Saturday, January 8

Where Do We Go from Here?

Today there's a couple of pieces on the General Election (coming our way this year, by all accounts) that attempt to factor in the (strange) death of New Labour. Both are bogus.

The link is to one by Neal Lawson (who he?) that describes New Labour as "the party of the living dead": "it functions but not for the purpose it was intended". Well, to me Tony Blair's govts have done pretty much what they said on the tin, and I have precious few complaints, save for his occasional dreamer moments when he attempts to quick-fix the almost unfixable: Ireland, Africa, post-tsunami Asia.

Then there's this piece by John Harris, an extract from his latest volume of trex. In it he poses the possibilty of disaffected Labour voters turning to the Lib Dems, though, after one of Charles Kennedy's malted answers he calls their leader "ill-informed" (slightly rich, coming from the guy who last year asked in an article 'what do al-Qaeda want?').

Some points to nail.

Firstly, in the death stakes New Labour has been responsible for one act of patricide: the killing off of old Labour, the one beloved of Harris, and most of his interviewees (judging by the excerpt).

In essence, Tony Blair did what had to be done. Old Labour was, and still is, unelectable in Britain. The worldview of Tony Benn et al is moribund - probably forever (its rekindling as a political outlook eg nationalisation is about as likely as global communism). It may amuse and bemuse Harris to hear that I have friends, and know of friends of friends, who bandy with derogotary emphasis the term "socialist" at this govt - and at supporters of it such as myself.

Judging by these pieces the two main complaints from the left re Blair's govt are (a) the Iraq war and (b) tuition fees. To take the latter first, it's a fact jacked that for us graduates we earn a median figure of at least £500K more in our working lives than non-graduates do. So, from that half mil, we have to cough and drop around 5% of it over the years. Tell me now: what's the fucking problem with that?

The war? Well, let's get real now: what war? It was an intervention. And since that relative stroll, there's been a political scramble, involving acts of terrorism by factions who realise that they'll soon be in deep shit when there's a new, democratically-elected govt in Iraq. Some of them, plainly, just don't wanna know - period. And as for grief, I daresay that more Iraqis (and allied soliers) have died post-intervention, due to terrorism, than during the three-week exercise that took the coalition into Baghdad.

But it's worth it. It's worth it for the millions living now, and the millions in the the future generations to come, who can live freely, as opposed to life under a despotic dictatorship. It can be argued that, giving the shit going on now, we got there just in time. I've yet to read a convincing scenario for a future Iraq where they would be less bloodshed than has happened as a result of us taking action now.

Most of the opposition to the intervention is based on unthinking, unworthy junk: the anti any war lot, and those anti anything US foreign policy involves. Yeah: quite a few sport both badges.

Funnily enough, I think that old, old Labour, with its belief in the betternment of the conditions of mankind, would have got behind the Iraq intervention all the way. I would argue that, in global economic terms, what we've done is a socialist act: the rich are spending billions to help those poorer than themselves.

So, back to Britain, and to the question I posed in the title: Where do we go from here? Well, the real answer is: nowhere.* We stay where we are ie we vote Tony Blair back in. Picture in your mind the alternatives: a Scots drunk (Kennedy - a man who needs a stiff drink or three to run our third biggest political party, let alone the world's fourth biggest economy); a Tricky Dicky jock-jawed miserabalist who fails the used-car test (Gordon Brown); and, frankly, a relic - with blood all over the gaff - of the bad old days of busted flush Thatcherism (Michael Howard).

Me? I'll be abroad, and will sigh just a little bit and hide my shame if one of these becomes the next prime minister of the old country. And my heart shall sink as I see how small they are on the White House lawn. And, of course, I'll give the unfortunate one a complete dose of yarbles from my perch right here.

In that sense, I'm going nowhere too.

* There is, of course, another, slightly surreal answer out there. Where do we go from here? Cue Haircut 100.


posted by DD @ 13:05 


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