As for the election results, these are deeply depressing and frightening – in terms of fascist gains – if predictable. Whether Brown stays or goes, New Labour has clearly failed to change Britain as it once promised to do. This, combined with the recession has opened us up to new right scare mongering from the BNP and new right opportunism from the Tories. Awful to hear George Osborne sounding so pleased with himself on the Today programme.
Meanwhile the gigantic and increasingly irrelevant power struggle between the Blairites and Brownites has reached epic proportions – and what an interesting ever tricky role that Mandelson has played! – but now threatens to wipe out the Labour party for a generation. The irony and the tragedy of it is that these two factions do not even disagree on policy.
They will not give up easily. As a key new Labour anti Brown figure said yesterday, ‘ How do we continue to pursue the New Labour model; economic efficiency and social justice?’ Need it be said: deregulation and the sanction of greed destroyed that dream of ‘economic efficiency’ and there has been insufficient social change for the millions who needed it, some of whom have turned to the BNP.
The expenses crisis is just the icing on the cake of that deep disappointment. Harriet Harman was right this morning; people are angrier with Labour not because Labour MP’s behaved particularly badly on the expenses front compared to the other parties, but because so many expected so much more, in terms of fairness, from a Labour government.
And now, of course, the Tories offer up a diluted and clearly opportunist version of the same firm but fair agenda.
Of course, Blair and Brown did – and I would argue, still do – represent a slightly different emphasis within that economic efficiency/social justice paradigm. Blair was clearly all for the aspirational, individualist dream whereas Brown is, I’ve no doubt, more committed to collective solutions, viz, his current promise to provide more social housing.
The tragedy for him, and those of us who lean more to the left, is that this vital emphasis has come too late, at the tail end of a Blairite administration, post Iraq etc. I do not think a Prime Minister of a party that has been in government for twelve years can talk about ‘setting out his vision’ – like a fresh faced new leader – although I understand why he does it. His government is only two years old, has hit the worst recession for decades and faced a newly resurgent Tory Party etc etc.
But can he still do it, even after today’s appalling results, last weeks post-Blairite rebellions, and his own continued lack of an easy public style of communication?
Well, stranger things have happened.
Am I really seeing a glimmer of optimism?!