THE cyclical nature of politics is illustrated by the direction taken by Labour since a young and fresh-faced Tony Blair first entered frontline politics.
Thirty-five years ago, the party was led by the staunch – and veteran – left-winger Michael Foot when Mr Blair was first elected to Parliament.
Yet, while Mr Blair moved Labour to the political centre prior to becoming Prime Minister in 1997, it shifted back towards the left under Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.
However the most dramatic realignment came with Jeremy Corbyn’s election as party leader in 2015 – he’s pursuing an old-fashioned socialist agenda as Labour finds itself in the grip of the hard left.
Nothing is permanent in politics – charismatic leaders are often succeeded by duller figures and vice versa. And, just as night follows day, there will come a time when the moderates regain a foothold in the Labour movement – history suggests that elections are still won from the centre ground.
For, despite talk of a new centrist movement being formed to appeal to those who dislike the Corbynites and Tory Brexiteers in equal measure, Mr Blair – and his remaining disciples – should be looking to win the policy argument from within their party. If not, Labour will remain at Momentum’s mercy.
Yet there’s also a salutary lesson for the former premier whose attempts to thwart Britain’s exit from the European Union, coupled with his foreign policy legacy, have seen him become a much diminished figure despite his work bringing Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement to fruition 20 years ago. If he had recognised the folly of unconditional European integration, not bequeathed so much sovereignty to Brussels and actually foreseen the impact of globalisation on Northern working class communities, recent political history might have taken a very different course.