January 19, 2012

THE PARTY IS VIABLE TO EXACTLY THE EXTENT IT'S THATCHERITE:

The shared delusions of Labour and the unions: Labour Party leader Ed Miliband versus the British trade union bosses? A plague on both their empty houses. (Mick Hume, 1/19/12, spiked)

The portentous language might make it sound like an historic split. But this fall-out over percentage points reveals that the leaders of Labour and the trade unions still share deeper delusions.

First, they share the delusion that Miliband's new announcement marks a big departure in Labour policy. Labour wants to dress up its acceptance of public-sector pay restraint as a bold step towards its new vision of 'responsible capitalism'. The unions want to highlight Labour's 'betrayal' to distract from their own inability to oppose the coalition's actual imposition of a public-sector pay freeze and subsequent one per cent cap.

In fact this 'new' policy is merely the logical outcome of Labour's approach since the financial crisis hit. The last New Labour government (of which Miliband was a member) itself imposed an identical one per cent limit on public-sector pay rises! Neither side can truly face the fact that Labour is just a 'responsible' wing of the all-party consensus behind the politics of austerity.

Second, they appear to share the delusion that this is really a struggle for the soul of the Labour Party. Miliband's few supporters hope it will be a 'Clause 4 moment', marking a brave new era just as Tony Blair did by ditching the old left's totemic clause of the party constitution. The union leaders, meanwhile, talk about a 'Blairite coup' to derail Labour.

In truth, Labour sold whatever soul it had long ago. The Labour Party 'as constituted' was destroyed years before Blair turned up to give it the last rites. It was the prior death of traditional Labourism that allowed the New Labour clique to take over the remains, not the other way round.

Since the party died, Labour leaders bereft of any alternative politics have tried to demonstrate their authority by beating the rump of the left.
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Posted by at January 19, 2012 6:39 AM
  

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