Wednesday, March 31, 2010


New Soiled Labour: A Cautionary Tale

With excruciating timing, just as the bloated zombie of the “New” Labour Government is (hopefully) due at last to lumber into its grave, one of the main reasons to bury it at a crossroads with a stake through its heart returns from the dead. Long-term readers may remember that I was never fond of the pure poison to the body politic that was for too long Prime Minister, so Mr Blair’s resurrection today in a body that (like Lord Voldemort’s) is no longer quite human started me thinking of the terrible lessons to learn from the fable of New Labour…

Wasn’t it astounding to see Gordon Brown, surely one of the few people on Earth who loathes Tony Blair more than I do, calling him back after all the hate everyone knows they’ve spat at each other to give one last lie for the gitter?

Wasn’t it astounding to see Labourites on Twitter pretending they’re pleased to see him again, with the celebratory hasbeentag #BlairsBack (still with #BrownsKnives?) fighting for attention with the competing #TheMummyReturns, #SendHimToTheHague and #MoneyTalks?

And wasn’t it astounding to see a man who’s not standing for election – who can’t be held to account – fly in on a tide of money and order us all what to do, as if he still had absolutely power? Wasn’t it just like old times for the Labservatives to assume that we must all do what they say, as long as they’re rich and arrogant enough, and no need for them to be elected? And wasn’t it absolutely bloody typical of the man who lied our country into an illegal war at the behest of God and George Bush – and with the full support of the Labservative Parties – to make his grand declamation, tell us all what to do… Then refuse to answer a single question, ordering out anyone who tried to hold him to account?

As you may have gathered, Mr Blair descending to Earth to lay his holy hand on us miserable sinners is reminding me just how much I loathe him. I disliked him very much even before he became Labour Leader; he fulfilled all my grim expectations as Prime Minister; and then as war criminal and George Bush cheerleader he became someone who I could no longer look at without feeling muscles clenching and teeth grinding.

It’s one of the paradoxes of politics that, although I dislike Mr Cameron far more than I do Mr Brown, I suspect that Dave (in his vacuous nebulosity) would be easier to deal with. Gordon Brown is a bullying, egomaniacal control freak and not up to the job, but I can’t help thinking that he means some of what he says – unlike Mr Blair, bar his warmongering. If there’s one good thing to say about the (looks at watch) still current Prime Minister, it’s that while he always wanted to have Mr Blair’s job, he never wanted to be Mr Blair. One reason I detest Cameron more of today’s two Labservative Leaders is that he desperately wants to be Mr Blair, only without the talent (which means, grudgingly, that he probably has less capacity for evil, though not for want of trying).

Blairytales of New Labour

None of this is to deny Tony Blair’s abilities. He was a phenomenal talent, leaving his two Labservative successors standing. But having talent isn’t enough – it’s what you do with it. And he used his flair and his power to preach at the powerless and suck up to the powerful. He was a poisonous, hypocritical, sanctimonious liar. Mr Blair reminds me of the joke told by Denis Healey about David Owen, in the style of Sleeping Beauty:
When Tony was born, fairies gathered round his crib to shower every possible gift on him. He would be successful, intelligent, lucky, handsome, charismatic…

But, unfortunately, the bad fairy also turned up. And she said, ‘He will have all those gifts, and more. But he will also be… A shit.’
The moral of this story, as always, is that it’s not what you have that counts – it’s what you do with it.

The other cautionary tale to take from New Labour is simply this. The moment they were elected, they started tugging their hardest at all the levers of power, only to find they weren’t connected to anything. Their solution?

Build more levers! More levers! Always more levers*!

Still, after all that, if you’re a better person than Tony Blair – and that’s not hard – you might find it in your heart to pity him. Just a little. Have you seen pictures of him speaking today? The poor** man. Wearing those burning pants so long has finally barbecued him all the way up to his face.

Count Packula, Prince of Markness – yes, the Lib Dems have our own undead forces – has applied his razor-sharp teeth and discovered that, in endorsing Gordon Brown, Tony Blair has been careful to leave his own ‘plausible deniability’ in place. You think that’s an exaggeration? Seriously.

Update: having been unable to bear actually watching Mr Blair’s speech, I sat down to read some of it. It was worse than I expected.

He still has chutzpah; he attacks Mr Cameron’s message of “change” as “the most vacuous in politics”. It’s bizarre to hear the truth from Tony Blair, and yet a truth that can only ever reflect on his opponents, and not himself:
“Is there a core…? Think of all the phrases you associate with their leadership and the phrase ‘you know where you are with them’ is about the last description you would think of.”
Is that just out-and-out hypocrisy from the man who “changed” the Labour Party by turning into a vacuum, precisely as Mr Cameron attempted to do with his own half of the Labservatives? Or is it the disdain of a convert who finally found something to believe in – conquering the world with George Bush – and so embodying a very particular cautionary tale, that if you elect someone who’s ditched everything they ever believed in, you never know what hideous monstrosity is going to crawl into the vacuum left behind?

But the line that really turned my stomach – the one that the Liberal Democrats should shout from the rooftops, because it should make everyone still considering voting for the Labour Party ashamed – is when he finally came out and revealed what he really believes, deep in his shrivelled soul.

For all Labour’s attempt to be all things to all people, for all their attempt to chat up Lib Dems in 1997 and, again, now that they fear they need our votes, their record is of a savagely authoritarian party that has turned back the clock at almost every point to state power against individual choice, that has tried again and again to destroy the Rule of Law. One that has been, incredibly, far worse and more repressive than the Conservatives of the 1980s and 1990s. But who could have guessed that even Mr Blair would choose so revealing a selling-point as to shout that we must choose Mr Brown over Mr Cameron – because the Conservatives are TOO LIBERAL.
“On law and order, they've gone liberal when actually they should have stuck with a traditional Conservative position.”
Like yours, Mr Blair? And yet he hacked apart our liberties in ways even traditional Conservatives wouldn’t have dreamt of – and now, at last, he boasts about it, like the murderer returning to the scene of the crime. A monstrously illiberal Prime Minister, finally turned from dissembling to proclaiming his monstrosity with sneering pride. The man who believes he is always right has finally made a statement of such appalling hubris that it deserves to be repeated over and over until every Labour voter knows exactly what foulness they’re supporting.

*The Labour Party has created more than 4,300 new laws since it came to office, at a rate greater than any government in the history of Britain.

**Tony Blair’s definition of poor does not exclude wealth beyond the dreams of githood.

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