Just how bad were New Labour?
As more is known, whether from documents found in Libya or revealed in the copious memoirs pouring off the presses, the depths to which NewLabour sank keep getting lower. Unless and until there is some real blood-letting from the rank and file, they will carry the scars for a generation. Just how bad were the key players?
A: Anthony Blair: proven liar, religious fanatic and probably mad. That he is still given airtime shows how supine our systems are. The man should be in jail.
B: Gordon Brown: summarised as a raging ditherer, Brown was the wrong man in the wrong job. A fact that seems clear to everyone who worked with him. That he was elected unopposed speaks volumes about his colleagues, most of whom would have known about his tantrums, his turning to face the wall in a sulk and his penchant for throwing things round the office. B is also for Bully. Brown was a horrible role model for all those tinpot bosses who think that shouting and abusing staff is the way to get success. He also was very slimy in that he employed people like the appalling McBride to do his dirty work. At our expense. And the egregious Balls was his henchman, hitman and muckspreader.
C: Civil Liberties. Labour (old and new) have always engaged in a big willy contest with the tories on who can be tougher on ‘national security.’ They proved to be awful. Control Orders, detention without trial and as is now becoming clear, willing collaborators with the yanks and their ‘black’ prisons, rendition and torture. Quite shocking. The relationship with arms dealers with a vested interest in selling weapons of control to dictators is a further concern. They fell a long way from Robin Cook’s ethical foreign policies. No wonder he was sacked. C is also for corruption. Cash for Honours, the revolving door between ministries and the corporate world and; utilising Commons ‘rules’ to develop property empires (e.g. Blair, Hoon, McNulty et al). We expect the tories to be on the take. It is what they do. The fact that NewLabour were as culpable was really dispiriting.
D: Defence. New Labour approached this issue like Civil Liberties (see above) and embroiled the nation in several wars - most of which were unjustifiable. They also had a series of execrable defence ministers, some of whom went to work in the arms trade when they left office. D is also for Dodgy Dossier, mostly copied from the internet and used to justify an illegal war. D is also for David Blunkett who is one of the highest earning MPs reportedly on nearly a million a year. Still a cheapskate with his rail ticket scandal and deeply self-serving.
E: Education. They did spend a lot on rebuilding schools. Unfortunately much of this was off-balance sheet PFI. Lacked a coherent approach, numerous untested initiatives flowed from the many ministers who kept the seat warm, failed to leave their mark. Lots of wheezes but little substance. Reinforced the target culture to the detriment of sound education and learning.
F: Fraud: the abandonment of the Serious Fraud Office’s case against BAE on the orders of Blair is a stain on the country. The Rule of Law? Hardly. F is also for the financial sector which went into meltdown on their watch. Deregulating the financial sector was a disaster. F is also for ‘Freedom of Information’. Blair admitted it was one of his biggest mistakes, a sentiment shared by Straw. Surprise, surprise.
G: Gap between rich and poor. This actually widened under NewLabour - a deeply shaming statistic to many party stalwarts. A source of anger to everyone with a civic conscience. ‘The Spirit Level’ emphasised how much unhappiness is related to inequality. Exemplified by Mandelson and his ‘extremely comfortable with the very rich’ remark.
H: Health. Much money spent but creeping privatisation undermined core values. Again PFI used to pass the debts onto future generations. Too many ex ministers walked out of government and into private health care providers. H is also for Hoon. One of the worst Ministers ever to serve the people when he wasn’t serving himself. Slimy, slimy, slimy. He was also Minister for Defence at the start of the Iraq war. As Sir William Gage detailed in his report into the death of Baha Mousa, the MOD were appalling. The use of hooding and stress positions which he said were forbidden by the Geneva Conventions and had been explicitly banned by Britain for over 30 years. Despite this, the Ministry of Defence appeared to have “largely forgotten” the ban and subsequent training manuals and rule books left those involved in detention and interrogation unclear about what was and was not allowed.
I: Industry. Investment grants used to shore up marginal seats. The most ridiculous being the contract to build 2 new aircraft carriers (which will have to manage without aircraft). They are being built in part in the constituency of Gordon Brown. At a huge cost. Pork barrel politics at its worst.
J: Justice: A post occupied by the egregious Jack Straw, the thoroughly nasty piece of work who circumvented Parliament to deny the Chagos islanders their rights. A good friend to BAE. Despite appearances he is the heir to Castlereigh.
K: Kitchen Cabinet. Most decisions were made by the chosen few who occupied Blair’s sofa. It was here that the briefing against Ministers was plotted. It was also the place where overtures to the Murdoch media were prepared. This method of government actively undermined Cabinet government, Parliament and in particular policy making in the Labour Party. K is also for Dr Kelly. A reminder that power does not like being challenged. It also exposed Alistair Campbell for the ruthless bastard that he is. An attack dog of the highest order who diminished public life manipulating the truth. A malignant presence at the heart of government.
L: Libya. Having been pariahs for many years they were brought back into the fold to assist in the spurious ‘war on terror.’ Enormous blind eyes were turned to torture and rendition. Mealy mouthed declarations fooled few. Oh and there was the small matter of oil. The sick bag was in demand.
M: MPs. Knowing what they knew about Brown what on earth were they doing shooing him into No. 10? M is also for Miliband - the ex Foreign Secretary who fought tooth and nail to keep details of government complicity with torture and rendition becoming public. Why with such a record was he seen as a safe pair of hands? Thoroughly nasty yet lacking the balls to stand against Brown despite several chances. M is also for Murdoch who pulled all the strings and rewarded Blair by letting him become a godfather. Squirmy, corrupt and rotten.
N: NewLabour. Made the party electable but lost their values in the process. Lost touch with their roots. Too many 'political class' candidates who had never experienced the real world and who spent much of their time plotting against each other. Not missed.
O: Oil. The real reason we went to war.
P: Parliament. Treated with contempt by Blair despite being a consumate performer. Peter Mandelson - a value free zone so long as money and power were involved. Also for Prescott who provided Blair with a veneer of working class connectivity. Another who sold his soul and gained his just desserts in the House of Lords. P is also for Prudence. The much vaunted claim from Brown that we had seen the end of boom and bust collapsed with the sub-prime mortgage debacle.
Q: The Queen, reported to be more than disgruntled at the overstretching of her armed forces and the cosying up to America.
R: Robin Cook. The one who had principles, was sacked for them, and who died far too soon.
S: Special relationship aka being up Bush’s backside. The Saudi’s - the possibility of one of their multitude of Crown Princes being indicted for bribery was enough for Blair to pull the rug on a Serious Fraud Office investigation. The fact that their human rights record is diabolical was neither here nor there when there were weapons to be sold. S is also for Smith, one of the worst ever Home Secretaries. Seemed to get her principles from the Daily Mail.
T: Tobacco. Set the tone right at the start by kowtowing to Bernie Ecclestone because he had donated (bought influence?) millions to New Labour. He wanted to keep the ciggies on his racing cars. Blair obliged.
U: The Unions who for years bankrolled these unprincipled chancers without ever really holding them to account. Why did they do it?
V: Values. Having abandoned socialist principles and adopted tory-light ones the party is now in a vacuum. What is it for? V is also for Vaz, implicated in several influence-peddling scandals. Unusually appointed by the then government, rather than by being elected by MPs, as Chair of the influential Home Affairs committee. Another slimy piece of work. Spends a lot of time with his mirror.
W: Wars. Quite a lot of them. The most fatuous being the specious ‘war on terror’ which gave license to all the right wing holy warriors and who, as a byproduct, sold loads more weapons. And uncounted hundreds of thousands died. They were uncounted - another stain on our record.
X: Ballots. Turnout at General Elections has seriously declined. When it rose from 61% to 65% at the last election there were scenes of chaos as electors were turned away by jobsworths. NewLabour occupied ground previously held by the tories. The Lib Dems have joined in too so there are few idealogical differences between our political rulers. So what is the point of voting when so many constituencies are safe seats? NewLabour promised electoral reform until they won a landslide then they conveniently forgot about the idea until just before they were about to lose!
Y: Yates of the Yard who had the unfortunate task of getting this nest of vipers to testify to wrongdoing in the Cash for Honours scandal. Funnily enough - he failed.
Z: Zimbabwe - a country with another madman for a ruler who does despicable things to his people. Lots of hot air from NewLabour but no action. It couldn’t have anything to do with the lack of oil could it?
Put together like this it is evident they were truly awful. Their biggest sin was to make the tories electable again. They also put back the cause of reasonable, decent people for a generation.
In short, they were a disgrace.