Tony Blair does not know how to argue logically


Tony Blair does not know how to argue logically

Tony Blair and his cronies have lost all sense of logic and reason since the Referendum, relying on baseless feelings, writes Bruce Newsome

Tony Blair is back, and his arguments are as stupid as ever. Not content for his protégé Lord Adonis to take the dishonour last week as barmiest Brexit-basher yet (Adonis blamed Brexit for his resignation from a minor advisory position on railways), Blair took the title this week, with a vengeance.

Blair’s new “campaign” against Brexit reprises all the abuses of evidence and logic, all the sanctimony and pathos, that made him a champion of the emotive and pseudo-intellectual classes.

Blair is not an evidence-based arguer. After some typically breathless, warbling appearances on radio and television this week, his most substantive expression of his “campaign” is a new “article” or “report” – entitled “What We Now Know”, published on the website of his Institute for Global Change. His “commentary” to “What We Now Know” doesn’t review what we know, it reviews what he feels. He tells us of his “desire” that Britain should stay in the EU, that he “passionately believes” that “we are making an error.”

Blair betrays no attempt to argue logically; in any case, he is deceptively contradictory. He writes that he doesn’t want “to reverse” the Brexit vote, and that “no one disputes it,” but he wants “the right to change our minds” and to be “permitted to mutate our perception.”

That’s it – that’s his commentary on “What We Now Know”. What we now know is what we always knew: he has passions and desires that contradict a popular vote, he wants everybody to trust his passions and desires rather than their own, and to pretend that nobody is overturning a popular vote – that they’re just asserting their “rights.”

Just to be clear what Blair is doing here: he is contradicting his own argument; then he hides his contradiction with double-speak, by pretending that a reversal of the referendum is not a reversal, it’s just a change of mind.

Incidentally, he conflates the term “right” in order to tap again on the knee jerk reflex of the emotive and pseudo-intellectual classes, to imply that if one doesn’t change one’s mind, then one is not exercising one’s rights, and that if anyone opposes a reversal of the referendum, then that person is taking away our rights! George Orwell would have been delighted to have dreamt up such double-speak and conflations for 1984.

Blair’s “commentary” offers no data, but leads to an executive summary, which is merely a list of data, none of which is used in an argument. Let me remind the pseudo-intellectuals at the Institute for Global Change: data are not evidence, unless they are proposed to prove something.

The Institute’s data don’t prove anything. They are just observations, left hanging, stranded, out of context, and without any propositions. The Institute infers that bad things are caused by Brexit, but without admitting that the referendum had nothing to do with them – or little compared to other causes. For instance, the executive summary states that food prices are growing at their fastest rate in 4 years, which actually has been a trend for decades, caused by over-population and climate change, and has nothing to do with Brexit. Similarly, the Institute states that applications from EU nurses to work in the NHS have fallen, but fails to mention that the NHS has belatedly raised its standards for English-language literacy and criminal background checks.

Blair’s Institute sources data without care to the biases of the observers behind the observations, such as the Centre for Economic Performance, which claimed that the referendum had cost the average household £404 per year already. Some of the sources used by the Institute are reports in The Guardian, placed by people who work at the Institute.

The rest of the so-called “report” continues on the same webpage – a tiresome series of headings above cursory sentences giving stranded and biased data. For instance, under the heading “Business Opinion” is the claim that “only 2% of British businesses think the Government is right to leave the single market and customs union” – but the source is the British Chambers of Commerce, which over-represents the service sectors that benefit from cheap migrant labour, and whose leadership is politicized. Let’s not forget that this is the same organization that suspended its Director-General for saying that Britain would be better off outside the EU. Of course, a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce should be included in any review of what British businesspeople think, but only if balanced by other surveys from other business representatives. The observation of 2% could be used as evidence, but only if corroborated by other surveys from other sources. The webpage doesn’t give any other British business sources -it goes on to tell us what “foreign businesses” think of us!

Blair’s argument is an abuse of logic and evidence. At best, it’s an argument of pathos – an argument that relies on emotion. He has been relying on his “passionate beliefs” since at least 1995. He succeeded politically in an era when emotion became more fashionable than facts – a shift that Blair and his New Labour spin-doctors constructed as liberal enlightenment.

Unfortunately, more than twenty years since he became prime minister, Blair’s norms are still at the centre of public discourse. They persist whenever the current Labourites and Liberal Democrats say that they are upset by the plights of the poor or EU migrants who choose to work away from their families. Aren’t we all? Just because we are upset doesn’t mean we should give up our capacity for arguing logically and empirically.

The trouble with a reliance on pathos is reductionism and emotiveness. Pathos gains personal, social, or political satisfaction by drawing attention to emotional awareness, at the expense of evidence and logic. Reductionists and emotives encourage policies that demand reaction rather than deliberation, treatment rather than prevention, relief rather than solution. Reductionists and emotives give us policies that treat poverty as the responsibility of everybody except the poor, that treat everybody who claims to be a refugee as a refugee, that commit a set proportion of our wealth as international aid to the corrupt governments and warlords who create those refugees, and that defer to the European Union rather than be accused of unilateralism or nationalism.

Then, when a majority rejects the reductionism and emotiveness, given an opportunity to deliberate the facts logically, the reductionists and emotives turn around and tell the majority to change their mind, because they didn’t know the “facts” (as Green Party leader Caroline Lucas claimed) or that they were too “uneducated” to understand the facts (as Labour MP Barry Sheerman claimed).

Nothing is more abusive of the facts or as uneducated as the Blairite style of argument. If Brexit-bashers want to win a second referendum, they’d better discover how to argue logically and empirically. But, as proved this week, Blair won’t be one of them.

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    Bruce Oliver Newsome
    Bruce Oliver Newsome, Ph.D. is a lecturer in International Relations as the University of California Berkeley
    • John M

      It amuses me that Blair has decided to put to sea just ahead of the annual Davos conference. It’s a good gig at Davos and they pay well over there. Clever stuff Tony…

    • MikePage

      The trouble with people like Blair (and that includes Obama, as we found out today) is they’re so pleased with themselves; they think they’re so flipping clever that even if they’re wrong, they’re still more right than the rest of us.

      But that’s a delusion. And the bad news is you don’t need to be clever to be a narcissist. My ex. for example, used to sulk for days on losing an argument. This phenomenon even has a name: Narcissistic Injury. She expected me to worship her feelings the way she did, not considering for a moment that I too was in possession not only of feelings, but more importantly the winning argument.

      Perhaps Narcissistic Injury is the whole problem with Remoaners?

    • getahead

      May I suggest that Blair’s only logical argument would be his EU salary?

    • CheshireRed

      ‘…because of climate change’.
      A fine piece slightly besmirched by agreed association with the undoubted greatest racket of our time, and ironically one argued for by irrational and illogical means. Exactly as Blair / Brexit then!

    • Little Black Censored

      We are so lucky in our opponents: Blair, Mandelson, Campbell, Heseltine, Adonis, Branson, and so on – a dream team! And that is not to mention cartoon characters like Juncker.

    • Shattah Flochasparras

      Blairs high but wobbly rhetoric and slightly `choked` delivery could pass in 1997.
      Not anymore,the internet will shred him with facts and numbers. Even the labour party `get` this. He, thank goodness,has not a clue.,

    • Tony in Southwark

      Let us just remind ourselves of the staggering victory the people of this country had over the ENTIRE Establishment – every one of them from the vast majority of Political Classes as the major parties and the smaller Nationalist wannabees, the career Civil Service, the Big Brother monopolistic CBI Businesses, the entire Groves of Academe and their associated Swamps of Education, the Quality Press, the Bigoted Broadcasting Corporation, along with its ‘independent’ rivals and their special ‘dependency class’ the Commentariat, also the alleged Comedians with their snarling prejudices, the Luvvies of the Glitterati and Culturatti and their associated hangers on of the ‘Sports Personalities’. All of them, ALL, got the biggest Collective Kick in the Crotch and then up the Backside from the vast Majority of the Electorate who turned out in the largest proportion and numbers ever seen in our Country.
      This was achieved not only against the EUroFantasists but also in no small part despite the unremitting propaganda which turned out to be so shallow that even Spending Twice as Much on the Remain side (that does not include the Government Leaflet neutrally explaining we Must Remain – for which Cameron should be Surcharged) as on Leave and We Still Won!

      • Sir Nigel of Brexit

        A million upticks sir.

        Apologies to Bjørge Lillelien.

        “Alastair Campbell, Andrew Adonis, Nick Clegg, Michael Hesltine, Anna Soubry, Ken Clarke, Nicola Sturgeon, Richard Branson, Tim Farron, Carwyn Jones, Gary Lineker, A C Grayling, Lilly Allen, Jason Manford, Nicky Morgan, Dominic Grieve, Gina Miller. We have beaten them all, we have beaten them all!. Tony Blair, can you hear me? Tony Blair … your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”

      • Little Black Censored

        Well said!

    • timbo_21

      On Radio 4 last evening (I think it was The Week In Westminster or something) some female Labour remoaning drone lied through her teeth by saying one of her (fellow female) constituents, who had voted for Brexit, has begged, yes begged, her to ‘help her change her mind’ about voting out.

      These people really do still think we’re stupid

      • Tony in Southwark

        Obviously her ‘friend’ couldn’t actually think of a single reason why she should change her mind and what is more the interviewee offered no arguments either.

    • Hibernating Dormouse

      Tony Blair isn’t ever logical. He is a vainglorious, self obsessed ego- maniac
      who listens too much to his own voice within his echo chamber.

    • Nockian

      Rather excellent article.

    • McRobbie

      Does anyone actually listen seriously to the noise from this self aggrandizing bigot ?

    • Captain Cutlass

      Let Blair carry on. He has much the same effect on the Brexit debate as he did on Corbyn’s election. The more he argued against Jezza the more the sans culottes flocked to his cause. Blair opposing the ref-result is good news for Brexiteers.

    • MrVeryAngry

      Roughly the same technique as he employed in that ‘report’ that got us involved in the Second Iraq war then?
      He is utterly incapable of speaking the truth. He, and his appallingly cronies ruled entirely by deceit and solely for reasons of the own self aggrandisement and self enrichment.
      A plague on all of them.

      • Fissionchips

        . . and a severe case of the pox on him and his god awful wife

    • me

      What we know now…….
      Blair is just full of hog s**t. End of.

    • SonofBoudica

      Blair is a pathologic liar and a delusional narcissist. Nothing he says can be of any value to anyone except him.

      • Nockian

        His ugly soul is now reflected in his face. A man shorn of any principles who’s only value is gained secondhand through prestige. This is a ghoul walking the earth until his day’s end. We and he, will no doubt welcome that day.

    • SonofBoudica

      The Remainers’ main argument – that the ordinary people are not capable of understanding the real issues facing Brexit (i.e. too thick) is rather reminiscent of the argument used by the landed gentry in the early 19th Century to oppose extending the franchise to non-landowners. Basically, said the gentry, the ordinary people did not understand the issues, and only their betters were in a position to safeguard their interests. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

      • Kingstonian

        Well no, it doesn’t ring a bell as most (all?) of us weren’t there – but we take your point.

        I find it extremely patronising to be told I didn’t understand the issue; I have waited 25 years to vote to leave the corrupt, undemocratic kloptocracy that is the EU and I don’t need any Remainers, particularly Blair, to tell me that someone else was better positioned to determine what was in my interests.

    • Bogbrush

      Excellent article. The contempt for the scientific method is probably as dangerous a thing in the World as anything else. The sad thing is that it’s been brought about by people like Blair who’ve corrupted the meaning of words like evidence and proof.

      Yeah, your article pretty much sums it up. Funny to see the guy now hoist with his own petard, in that it would no longer benefit him if he really did have great arguments because everyone has him securely classed a vacuous liar and dismisses any utterance accordingly.

    • Robert

      Interesting article. What always amazes me is how those in favour of a position on a subject – be it continued membership of the EU or man-made climate change for example – often invoke ‘science’ in the form of lumps of selected data as if a table of numbers, a graph or, perish the thought, a whole PowerPoint presentation – with tables, graphs, statistics and exploding pie-charts – is sufficient to prove their case. Lumps of data do not prove a causal connection between whatever things those lumps of data describe in numbers.

      To prove a causal connection requires strict testing in laboratory conditions. In the sphere of the social sciences – apart from some regular, time and space dependent, daily cycles of human activity (rush hour traffic and energy demand peaks, for instance) – that is not possible to any significant degree. In the field of accounting what may be causing a long term change in the Earth’s climate it is true that it is hypothesized that natural laws are at work – waxing and waning of the sun; ocean currents and the heating/cooling of the ocean in various places; volcanic activity churning out atmospheric dust, and; vegetation absorbing Co2 and so on- but isolating them and proving a causal connection is not possible because the Earth itself – this planet’s entire ecosystem – is the laboratory.
      What those who appear to be scrambling to save face over their past and current enthusiasm for staying subject to rule by public servants overseas in Brussels are doing is the complete opposite of proper scientific explanation. They seek only those things, the selections of data, that prove whatever the point it is they are trying to make when they should – pace Popper and his ‘Conjectures And Refutations’ – be trying to disprove it.
      …As for ‘reductionism’. Well, despite all the pseudo intellectual dialectical gymnastics there, is, at the core, a very simple ‘reductionist’ explanation for all that is wrong in the world from socialists the likes of Mr Blair – it is all because of the evils of capitalist exploitation and the ensuing class warfare. That is all one needs to know – the decryption key, if you will – to decrypt much of the gobbledegook emanating from those who believe socialism is the answer to all our ills.

    • mrdavidjohnson

      A good article. However you say food prices rises because of population increases and climate change. Climate change? Really? Is it making us eat more? Look at the data, all crop yields are increasing

      • Nockian

        Might be costing more to produce though. Think Carbon Tax and then ‘climate change’ is not the necessary cause, but the excuse.

    • Andrew Briggs

      Bizarre isn’t it that Blair is (or at least was ho ho ho) seen by many as clever and bright and yet is incapable of even slightly deep thinking or analysis. He always believed that announcing something with a big number in it – £100m here, £50M there, 50% go to Uni – was automatically good – and of the course the naive and gullible lapped it up not thinking – like him – to look beyond the immediate and the obvious.
      To me this is a defining characteristic of socialists – short sighted, superficial and incapable of analysing themselves or others – combined with a naive belief that absolutely everyone in the world is basically lovely. That their well meaning innocence keeps tripping over the less pleasant aspects of human nature does not seem to penetrate their consciousness.

      • Helen Smith

        Not everyone in the world, any Tory is horrible

        • Andrew Briggs

          Perhaps (I get the irony) although i would say the real hatred is more specifically a Labour trait rather than a generally socialist one and is particularly aggressive following the latest infiltration.

        • Kaiser

          that makes you Helen, a bigot of the first order

          • Helen Smith

            You misunderstand me, the view of the left is not that everyone is lovely, they think that any Tory voter is horrible

            • Kaiser

              ahh irony, sorry helen I apologise to you personally , though I think they also hate the white working class almost as much as well

            • MrsDoyle123

              Entirely my fault, I didn’t make myself clear! Taken the precaution of using my username from now on, don’t want to get a bad name lol. They do indeed hate the white working class too, pity the white working class doesn’t realise it.

    • Stuart Fairney

      He rather reminds me of a women who was beautiful and much sought after in her twenties, but to whom the years have not been kind. Now, many years later when the luster has faded and no-one is much interested any more, many such women are in open denial of reality. They were superficial and baseless but people forgave or ignored their faults because they wanted the youthful beauty so much. But when that’s gone you see an empty vessel and think “What was all that about?”

      So it is with “Tony”

      • MrVeryAngry

        Or pretty men … just to balance the sexism…

    • Jolly Radical

      Maybe a second referendum could be armed and ready to launch at 45 minutes notice?


    • fred finger

      Bliar is still trying to get that President of Europe job. The £2B a year bribe he gave back (and is still giving) to the EU, he still sees himself as the centre of attention.

      • Nockian

        What else has he got. He is Gollum of Lord of the Rings. A wretched creature walking through his personal Mordor bewailing the loss of his ‘precious’. I can’t help but have some sympathy just like Frodo.

        • Helen Smith

          No, no sympathy, I save that for all those thousands who died in his wars

        • ethanedwards2002

          My sympathy will be expressed as sending him an in Memoriam card when he’s locked up for War crimes. Doubly happy if they lock up Mrs Letterbox Frodo as well.

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