While I was doing a little research on fascism recently I began to think about what fascism, and particularly British fascism might look like in the 21st Century. Britain has never been a militaristic country so expect British fascists to wear suits rather than boots and uniforms. An article I came across by Skip Stone gives the first hallmark of fascism as - "One leader who has nearly absolute control of government, despite pretense otherwise. There is no effective opposition to his policies." Now who does that remind me of? Sums up our glorious ex-leader Tony Blair exactly, and Gordon has been more than happy to follow in his footsteps - so we live in an elective dictatorship, where the leader is all powerful, the cabinet and parliament are treated with contempt. But what other fascistic traits does new New Labour have?
Dr. Lawrence Britt wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20) in which he described 14 characteristics of fascism. How does New Labour measure up here?
I've followed each one of Dr Britt's characteristics with an affinity (High, Medium, Low) and a corresponding score (3,2,1). So lets see how New Labour does:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Gordon’s flag flying and obsession with Britishness is largely driven by fear of the SNP but don’t be complacent New Labour has moved to the right on this issue. M=2
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - A real mixed message here. We have the human rights act but a government with little respect for our freedoms. M=2
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - There is no significant left opposition but expect scapegoating to happen as the contradictions in the government’s approach to climate change cause more strain. As our climate worsens green ‘militants’ are likely to become the ‘enemy’. There are also some mixed messages on the scapegoating of Muslims, and how about the treatment of asylum seekers?. M=2
4. Supremacy of the Military - British governments have never really trusted the military but this may be about to change, as the going gets worse. New Labour has made up for this deficiency by being in love with the police and security services. M=2
5. Rampant Sexism - New Labour can talk the talk but does the walk leave something to be desired? L=1
6. Controlled Mass Media - Spin has certainly been used to manipulate the media but its Gordon’s chum Rupert who controls it. M=2
7. Obsession with National Security - Full marks here! H=3
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - The government has been dishonest with the electorate about its religious affiliations and is pursuing a religious agenda. Faith, apparently, is better. H=3
9. Corporate Power is Protected - A definite yes. H=3
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Ditto as 9 above and don't tell me about the minimum wage. That is the fig leaf which covers New Labour's anti-unionism. H=3
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - There’s no great liking for either in New Labour except where luvvies can be used for party gain. New Labour is the celebs party. M=2
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Full marks here, once again. H=3
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - I would argue that New Labour’s cosiness with big business, the revolving door culture, and PFI are all examples of rampant corruption, of our democracy if nothing else. M=2.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Despite Labour’s shenanigans with postal votes in the Midlands this is still low – for now. L=1
Total (out of 42) 31 = 74 %
So New Labour scores nearly 75% on my improvised fascist index. Not very scientific perhaps but an indication of just how far New Labour has moved to the right in the past 20 years. Just because this is Britain doesn't mean it can't happen here and it doesn't have to be the BNP wearing those fascist suits. You have been warned!