Corbyn as Blair's child, 20 years on

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Prime Minister Tony Blair Credit: PA

We're all narcissists now (aren't we) so it must be OK for me to see the prism of UK politics through my two stints as a political editor, first in the 1990s for the FT and today (for you know who).

So I find it extraordinary that it is almost 20 years to the very day that I reported on Tony Blair's New Labour winning a general-election landslide which was widely seen - by Blair, but also by many others - as signalling the end of Labour as a seriously left-wing party.

Errr. That worked out didn't it?

And just in case you harbour any illusions or doubts about the serious left wing credentials of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, here is the speech he gave today to the Scottish TUC in Aviemore - which is a paean to trade unionism and the imperative of redistributing wealth.

It includes a pledge to allow co-operation in wage negotiations between employees at different companies and institutions.

That may well be sensible after years in which the share of national income going to workers has been falling, but I simply can't imagine Blair ever saying "we will work with trade unions and industry to reintroduce sectoral collective bargaining across the country".

Oh and Corbyn issued this challenge to New Labour's love-in with corporate bosses and the City: "we will introduce a right to own giving workers first refusal when their company faces a change of ownership or closure".

None of this is to say Blair was right and Corbyn is wrong, or vice versa.

But it is to argue that Blair begat Corbyn, that there is a causal link between their two Labour parties.

To tell you what you already know (I know that happens a lot!) Blair's famous pragmatism, which was in part what got him to Number 10 in the first place, was ultimately seen as a vice, because it sowed confusion about what he and his party really stand for.

That led, over many years but in a pretty straight line, to Labour members going for Corbyn's principles and his eschewing of "compromise with the establishment".

Going back to 1997, there were many who said Blair would still have won, against a shambolic Tory party, if he had compromised the party's values less than he did in practice, especially by refusing to reinstate workers' rights, by putting up taxes for the wealthy, and by reaching an accommodation with the right-wing media.

If he had been truer to Labour's history, maybe the backlash against him would not have delivered Corbyn.

By the same argument, though, Corbyn's powerful conviction that the normal rules don't apply to him - in particular that winning requires some compromise with the establishment consensus - may also damage Labour. And if the polls are any guide at all, that damage may be inflicted rather sooner than two decades from now.