DURING my lengthy commute to work, when I’m not listening to music, I tend to alternate between BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 4. And I can’t help noticing that one of the most frequent guest voices these days is that of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor. Whether the topic is Brexit or anti-Semitism, he’s wheeled out on a regular basis to give us the benefit of his opinion.

This week, he held forth on why he no longer wants to be a member of the Labour Party, and his concerns that the UK is heading into “a very dark, dangerous place with an unbelievably right-wing populist government”. For this, he blames Jeremy Corbyn. Some of his points would no doubt resonate with pro-independence and anti-Brexit listeners. Across whole swathes of the UK south of Gretna Green and Berwick, right-wing xenophobia is on the march, more stridently than at any time perhaps since the heyday of Enoch Powell in the 1960s.

And Labour’s approach to Brexit over this past year has been one almighty shambles.

Corbyn’s lukewarm approach towards the European Union goes back decades. Had his advisers helped him shape that legitimate scepticism into a coherent policy that sought to reverse Brexit while pledging to work with other left-wing forces across the continent to bring about the democratic and social transformation of the European Union, the political map of England would look very different. The Liberal Democrats would have remained marginalised while Labour’s Blairite opposition would have been, if not silenced, at least muted. Many traditional Labour voters in the north of England would have been reassured that the party was still on their side, and the internationalist-minded under-40s would have been galvanised.

Instead, Corbyn has ended up with the worst of all possible worlds. One unfortunate side-effect of Labour’s Brexit confusion is that the centrist moderates inside and outside the party are now presenting as saviours of the young. These include

Jo Swinson, who voted for the bedroom tax; for increasing VAT; for reducing corporation tax on big business; for more privatisation in NHS England; for university tuition fees, for ending financial support to teenagers in training; for cutting central funding to local government; for privatising the Royal Mail; for selling off England’s publicly owned forests; for increased rail fares – and against taxing bankers bonuses, against raising tax on earnings over £150,000, against spending more money to help unemployed young people get back into work; against increasing welfare benefits in line with prices, against higher benefits for those with long term disabilities; against stronger regulation of fracking and against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

In her defence, it can be said that up till now, Jo Swinson has been a bit-part player, focused mostly on climbing up the greasy political pole. Not so Alastair Campbell, who was anything but a bit-part player – not least in his role in paving the way for the UK to jointly invade Iraq, a truly catastrophic decision, which contributed to the death of hundreds of thousands, the mutilation of millions, the displacement of millions more, and the violent destabilisation of a vast area of the globe that stretches 5000 miles east to west.

That horrific legacy is so dark that it has overshadowed New Labour’s role in paving the way for the ugly right-wing populism that Alastair Campbell is so concerned about today. Back in 1997, Tony Blair swept to office on the back of a tidal wave of resentment against a besieged Tory government engulfed by sleaze, incompetence and division. Labour won 13.5 million votes. Four years later, their vote had slumped by three million. By 2005, four million had deserted the party, and more than five million by 2010.

Why? Because the traditional party of the working class had begun to lose touch with its heartlands from the first day that a grinning Tony Blair walked into Downing Street. “Britain needs more successful people who can become rich,” he told big business audiences, repeatedly.

“We are intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich,” said his close ally Peter Mandelson – who then became filthy rich to the point where he could afford to buy an £8m mansion in one of London’s most exclusive areas. “The class war is over”, Blair announced in 1999, which was great news for the UK’s mega-rich who tripled their wealth over the next five years. With Campbell by his side, he drove forward his vision of an American-style free-market economy, where the banks were deregulated, and Thatcher’s privatisation programme continued. At the other end, of the scale, low pay reached epidemic proportions during the Blair years, as the UK became and remains the most economically unequal society in Europe.

As a Daily Mail editorial back in 1999 put it: “When a Labour prime minister delivers a keynote speech which could just as easily have been uttered by Margaret Thatcher, John Major or William Hague, something notable has happened on the political landscape. The Tories may have been trounced at the election, but most of their policies and principles seem to be living on unscathed.”

To trace the disaffection with the liberal elites that paved the way for Brexit back to its source, go back to the Tony Blair era, when the old working class was all but abandoned.

In Scotland, they had a left-of-centre alternative offering a clean break with Westminster and a fresh start. In 2007, while Blair was still prime minister, the SNP won a majority for the first time ever in a national election. But in England they had nowhere to go, so they abstained in ever-greater numbers as resentment against the metropolitan elites festered and ultimately exploded.

Yes, right now the people we have to fear most are the fanatical Brexiteers running the UK, who want to turn the calendar back to the days when Britannia ruled the waves and foreigners knew their place in the grand scheme of things.

But let no-one be under any illusion that right-wing populism will be defeated by a bunch of highly privileged, self-righteous, middle-of-the-road, moral guardians.