June 24, 2009


This gaping hole calls for a new party. Let's call it Labour: The party I joined as a gullible student has been dismantled by Blair and Brown, and with it any voice for those on the left (Simon Jenkins, 6/23/09, guardian.co.uk)

As a doubtless gullible student, I purchased a Labour party card, gulping at the notorious clause four on its reverse. Even when, disillusioned, I crossed the floor to a similar flirtation with Conservatism, I retained a respect for Labour as custodian of a fine genetic strain in British politics, an ambition for social liberalism, fairness in wealth distribution and ethical dealing in public life.

That party was dismantled, ideologically and constitutionally, by Tony Blair and his circle, to prevent it impeding his freedom of action in office, as it had done so many of his predecessors. He wanted no trouble from that quarter.

He was right. The exigencies of power led him in directions far removed from the wellsprings of his support. There were reasons for the U-turn on labour law and progressive taxation in the 1990s. There were reasons, albeit weak, for the wars of liberal interventionism. There were reasons, downright bad ones, for passing 14 repressive and illiberal curbs on personal freedom in the name of national security.

There were even reasons for accelerating Tory privatisation and for increasing the disparity between rich and poor. There were reasons for responding to the credit crunch by re-enacting the last chapter of Animal Farm on the sofas of Downing Street, with ministers carousing with bankers, lords and ladies until you could not tell them apart. As the money men traipsed through Whitehall protecting their backs and their pockets, the high streets and the factories shut and the job queues lengthened.

What has been astonishing is the silence with which the Labour party has received all this. So thoroughly had Blair destroyed Labour as a movement ­independent of its place in power that hardly a peep has been heard from what is supposedly a party of the left.

...with the Left unrepresented.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 24, 2009 5:17 PM
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