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The Choice according to New Labour

I don’t want a new best friend. I want a Labour Prime Minister,” says the headline on an article by Kevin Meagher, former special adviser to Labour Northern Ireland secretary, Shaun Woodward, on Labour Uncut, the website of Blairite former MP, Siôn Simon. It considers the choice in “Labour’s first truly modern leadership campaign” but warns us that “there is a balance to be struck between embracing the party’s new glasnost and forgetting the old ways – and why we adopted them in the first place.”

Now you would have thought that the loss of four million votes under Prime Minister Blair (followed by another million under Brown) would have taught the Blairites a thing or two about “the old ways“. But they seem to have a habit of forgetting about that first four million. Peter Mandelson asks about voters’ decisions not to vote Labour: “Was it because they thought all of a sudden (Editor’s emphasis) that we were too New Labour? I think not.” Not surprising that he makes the slightly chilling promise that “we will govern again as New Labour“. So, Kevin Meagher helpfully reminds us about the old ways and how we need a Leader to tell us some “home truths” about where we went wrong under Brown:

The public sector got too big and flabby under Labour. We did not demand results. Standards, performance and efficiency do matter. The public finances are a mess. Some public sector pension deals are scandalous. Immigration is a justifiable concern. In this “age of austerity” we must not become the party of soggy social liberalism, high taxes and public sector special pleading.

We’re not told who this leader is, but, helpfully, it’s made very clear that that it’s not his brother.

Ed Miliband is apparently “the political equivalent of a tub of Haagen-Daz ice-cream“:

comfort food for the terminally disappointed who see nothing in Labour but missed opportunities and betrayal. They gorge themselves on his selective analysis, reassuring commitments and “me-like-you” rhetoric.

Speaking as someone who has seen a few missed opportunities in his time, and even a spot of betrayal. I don’t feel too engorged. Maybe I’m not terminal. But I do believe that there are a few home truths which ex-Ministers and their advisers need to hear.

Tony Blair lost four million votes in his first two terms. His last election was, with one exception, the worst for Labour since before the second world war because he had lost the trust of the British people. He didn’t win the election — the Tories lost it because they had even less credibility. Everyone lost last election because the lack of credibility was more evenly spread. Gordon lost more ground not because he broke with “New” Labour but because he failed to break with it.

3 Comments

  1. “the loss of four million votes under Prime Minister Blair (followed by another million under Brown)”

    Sure, but you also need to acknowledge that Blair brought those 5m voters to Labour. How he lost 4m of them is a a good question, but it is clear that they weren’t there before Blair.

  2. Matthew Stiles says:

    To Richard Blogger, in 1994 Labour was already in a strong position under John Smith and the Tories were grievously weakened following the ERM debacle. The Euro elections of 1994, held just after John’s death, gave a voting share of 44% to Labour and 28% to the Tories.

    The article by Meagher is awful. Mark Serwotka was recently interviewed in The Guardian: “The most likely comment to exasperate Serwotka is the assertion that they’re fat cats, a smug drain on the public purse: of 301,000 members “we’ve got 30,000 people earning just above the minimum wage, 100,000 earning less than £15,000 [the average civil service salary is £22,000]. The pensions that we’re told are gold-plated – the average pension is £4,200 a year – reflects that you can have the best pension scheme in the world, but if it’s based on years of low pay, the pension is low. Job security’s a thing of the past.”

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