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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Rave from the grave...

Back blogging again. I haven't done anything much for about a month, which in the blogosphere is considered a century or two.

I suppose a lot has been happening in the world in that time, but I haven't been commenting on it. Perhaps it is because I am showing my age, and it's "same old, same old" to me. When I was a lad, every little political development seemed to be an incipient sign of the end and/or revolution, but now a feeling of ennui grips me all too often. I shouldn't be like that, the world is as exciting as ever, or so a nagging voice in my head tells me.

Anyway, I have some big blog pieces that I would like to get up and running. However, I need some real sitting down and concentrating to attempt these in a worthwhile manner (remember that procrastination is the id to the ego of perfectionism). I sent a couple of pieces to the New Statesman (basically e-mailing anyone of consequence there) but I have had no replies as yet. I don't want to say anything about that lack of response yet. The lack of response must be partly, I guess, a consequence of a period of high excitement in British politics at the moment (wake up at the back!!) what with the Tony v Gordon battles. I've said things previously about the whole saga before in my blog, but a few other comments may be in order here.

First of all, this is very much a battle between two wings of New Labour. Only those who still quaintly refer to Labour as "The Socialists" would see a Gordon Brown victory as meaning we become "the New North Korea" or some such nonsense. New Labour is built on the myth, forged in the aftermath of the 92 General Election defeat, that the public will never vote for higher taxes for essential services such as health and education, despite what they may say in opinion polls. In fact, the majority did vote for such policies in 92.

However, the voters were split between Labour and the Lib Dems (and other parties considered to be "Centre-Left", such as the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens) so the Tory minority was able to get back in with a split opposition vote. Now I think it would be harder to get people to support tax rises, because so much has ostensibly been ploughed into health, education and other social services without much discernible effect. However, a lot of that is to do with the various scams pulled by consultants, accountants and the verious other parasites who have made a killing out of New Labour embacing the private sector, without New Labour having much of a clue about how the private sector works under Actual Existing Capitalism. A book I have been reading in the past few weeks of blog silence worth having a read of is Plundering The Public Sector: How New Labour are letting consultants run off with £70 billion of our money by David Craig and Richard Brooks. Opinion polls I have seen recently suggest that people are losing faith in the Welfare State, including the NHS. If the public sees the Welfare State increasingly as a means of funneling public money into the pockets of a bunch of private sector hucksters after the quick buck, no wonder the public has lost faith in it!

The other point I was going to say about the whole Blair-Brown saga is the myth that Blair is an election winner. Let's be honest, before he died in May 94 John Smith was well on the way to a solid Labour majority at the next General Election. OK, it would almost certainly have not been the 179 Blair achieved in 97, but it would have been solid enough (and would a smaller majority have been such a bad thing?). The Cons were in serious trouble by May 94, and people were sick to the back teeth of them by then. In 2001 Blair faced William Hague (I loved the strapline of his weekly column between 2001 and 2005 in the News of the World: "He Knows: He's Been There"...WTF?), who came across as one of those kids you used to see on Jim'll Fix It: "Dear Jim, can you fix it for me to become leader of the Conservative Party?". However, Mister Saville would make sure it was only for a day. Young Master Hague had the post for four years. Any half-decent Labour leader would have won against William Hague. In 2005, Labour got in quite narrowly, and the main reason for that was Gordon Brown being allowed on the election trail with TB, as opposed to being shunted over to the election trail equivalent of a Siberian power station. If anyone remembers, at the start of 2005 Blair's campaign manager was Alan Milburn, one of those bugger all in a suit types the Cons used to specialise in during the 1990s, and which Blair likes to surround himself with. The election was going to be all about public sector "Choice" rather than providing nearby quality hospitals, schools etc. When the polls started to show the Cons coming close to Lab Milburn was dropped (there is serious talk of him standing as the Blairite candidate for leader- do they want to lose the next election so badly?) and Gordon Brown was hastily rehabilitated and brought back on the national election campaign. Even with Brown and the playing on Labour's economic record (surely with anyone with half a political brain, their trump card) it was a damn close thing in 2005, a General Election won despite of Blair, not because of him.

Something else I was reading recently was an article by Ross McKibbin in the London Review of Books which makes the point I've made before: the pro-Americanism of New Labour, Brown as well as Blair:

"To Blair, and even more to Gordon Brown and his kitchen cabinet, America stands for ingenuity, dynamism, wealth and power. It is the model we should aspire....New Labour's relentless urge to privatise, to provide 'choice', even in areas where most of us don't want to make choices (like the secondary school system), to minimise the public sphere, all comes from the US. The Treasury's labour market policies are largely American...."

McKibbin also makes the point that the British public's resistance to public sector "reform" has:

"...increased the frustration felt by the Americanising members of the government- especially the prime minister- and thrown them ever more enthusiastically into the arms of American foreign policy, since in this area the preferences of the electorate don't keep getting in the way."

So expect, "same old, same old" when Blair finally ascends to Heaven. Blimey, I'm tired. However, I will keep ploughing on for a while. I need to stay up. I start nights at work tomorrow evening, and the quicker I adapt to staying up at night, the better.


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