Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Chickens coming home to roost.......

In the local election in Northwich West I polled 540 votes which was 14.3% of the total - not bad for a first attempt. Northwich West is part of Cheshire West and Chester, one of the two new unitary authorities imposed on Cheshire without consultation. The boundary is the same as the old county council ward - which was held by Labour. The 'new' ward now elects three councillors and all those elected were Tories.

So, not such a bad night for me but a terrible one for Labour. Back in April I predicted that Brown and New labour would lose the next election and gave my reasons before the 10% row really broke.

The reasons are not difficult to work out. Eighteen years in opposition corroded Labour right down to the core. So desperate were Labour politicians for power that they were happy to ditch Labour principles to get elected. Now as a result New Labour stands for very little. It is a centre-right party, based on neoliberal free market ideals which belong in the 19th century. The very ideals which the Labour Party was set up to fight. Along the way
they have ditched not only Labour values but thousands of loyal activists and thus hollowed out the party. Those left are hardcore followers, donkeys who could be lead anywhere, Blairite and Brownite apparatchicks, opportunists like Hazel Blears, those who don't know where else to go, and those who hang on in the hope of change. Meanwhile those ministers who promise to "listen and lead" - what a fatuous comment! - listen and learn is what they need to do - might as well be living on Mars for all the understanding they have of the depth of their plight.

My Dad used to be a local Labour Party chair and he fought local elections against all the odds in a safe Tory area. He resigned in disgust about two years ago and has vowed never to return. There are many like him, now joined by many more thousands (millions?) of Labour supporters who are bewildered by the fact that the Party that they elected with such enthusiasm in 1997 has done so little for them, and so much for the rich. Something had to give sooner or later, the amazing thing is it wasn't sooner. In fact, Blair only did as well as he did in 2005 because he promised to quit. Had he not New Labour's majority would have been a lot lower.

So what has New Labour done for us? Well we always hear about the minimum wage and there is no doubt that Gordon has managed a certain amount of re-distribution. But balance that against the downside:
  • student fees
  • rampant house prices
  • the destruction of pensions
  • damaging PFI projects which have lined the pockets of corporations and saddled the nation with debt
  • closure of post offices and cuts in public services
  • privatisation of the NHS
  • the Iraq war
  • refusal to repeal damaging trade union legislation
  • promotion of divisive faith schools and privatisation of education
  • a complete and comprehensive failure to deal with environmental issues
  • an increasing gap between the rich and poor
  • a reduction in social mobility
None of the things in this list are things which natural Labour supporters would have wanted. Only the party right and those fools who were dazzled by apparent Blairite invincibility supported them. What's worse is that they were done dishonestly. Whoever asked us if we wanted the NHS to be priviatised? Not New Labour. Why? Because they knew it would have been rejected.

Not only is New Labour going to lose the next election but we have to ask - what is New Labour for? Tony Blair said "We will govern as New Labour". I say they are going to die a political death as New Labour.

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