Saturday, 11 July 2009

New Labour, New Cronies

Interesting story in the Independent on Wednesday about Lord Mandelson. Apparently this very important person has no less than ten people working for him in his new empire. His Lordship's newly formed Department for Business, Information and Skills gives him control of trade, consumer affairs, science and innovation, higher education, communications etc etc etc. Of course, Gordon Brown brought his erstwhile enemy Mandelson into government out of desperation, and since he saved Gordon's skin in the recent attempted coup after the Euro-election debacle, its no surprise that he has become more powerful.

When you look at Mandelson's departmental heads what do you see? Well no less than four of them are unelected Lords, and there is also a Lady. Was it really that difficult to find MPs to fill these posts? Or does New Labour actually prefer bankers and Tony's cronies to their own party members? We know that Gordon likes bankers and financiers. Look at his response to the credit crunch. Any curb on bonuses? Any break up of banks too big to fail?

The truth is that the leaders of New Labour - Blair, Brown and Mandelson - have all but eviscerated the Labour Party. It is now an empty shell. Merely a vehicle for the careerist politicians who lead it. Peter Oborne in his book the Triumph of the Political Class describes this process and how the people who rule us do it largely for their own purposes, they have become an elite, answerable only to themselves.

At one time the Labour party stood for something and people in politics paid their dues. They worked themselves up from the bottom, starting out as local councillors, and active trade unionists before moving on to parliament. The Labour Party used to have a democratic structure. The Labour Party conference wasn't mere PR window dressing - it meant something. If you want to find out more about the history of Labour Party democracy read the excellent book Parliamentary Socialism by Ralph Milliband.

Nowadays if you run the country you don't bother to debate in your own party, you don't bother to give any kind of space to people who may have different opinions to yourself, you simply parachute in people who share your views and will do your bidding. This is what New Labour did with the likes of Lord Adonis and Baroness Vadera. This is not only profoundly undemocratic but its also bad for our country. All those people who used to pay their dues to get into government learnt something valuable in the process. Now we get people coming into government with their potty ideas fully formed and untested in the crucible of democracy. This is just another example of why government in our country has become so rotten.

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