Thursday, February 12, 2009

Portrait of a follower

Is it possible for an individual to agree with everything they're told, 100%, for twelve years? Well, it is.

When we blame those in charge for what goes pear-shaped in the world, one of the categories we tend to overlook is the second ranks. Some people call them 'party apparatchiks', others simply 'arse lickers', in any case referring to the second lieutenants and petty officers that will always follow the leader because career ambitions piss all over principles.

Think about it. How long would any messiah in the world last without the ranks of precious water carriers obediently doing the job and reciting the script word by word? Can you imagine Tony Blair managing ten long years if the Alan Milburns and the Geoff Hoons, the Alan Johnsons and the Jack Straws had ever stood up to him -for example- by saying no to the Iraq war?

Could any playground bully ever manage to pull off any of his tricks without the clique of hangers-on cheering him on and repeating his every last word? "Gimme your sweets!"..."Yeah, sweets!"

The Right Honourable Hazel Blears MP, current Secretary of State for Community and Local Government is the perfect one to fit that profile. There was a fantastic depiction of Blears' adherence to party principles in John Harris' So Now Who Do We Vote For?, a book that came out just before the 2005 elections. What stood out from Harris' account was the way Blears' distinct lack of depth and analysis was outweighed by her blind devotion to the party line that would justify whichever action, from the Iraq war to foundation hospitals or the introduction of tuition fees.

Even better however, is the superb appraisal of the former Labour Party chair as penned by George Monbiot, our new favourite columnist, in Tuesday's Guardian. His is a devastating charge sheet that exposes her sheepish parliamentary record. If you were still harbouring any doubt as to why people are so put off by politics, just ask yourself: if you lived in the Salford constituency and were a thinking individual, what would the point be in casting a vote if a party automata like Hazel Blears is invariably going to get elected?

She survived every single party lie, broken promise, cheating of the card, u-turn or gratuituous crime against humanity without a single moment of hesitation. Without any natural disagreement. Not a single Robin Cook-moment, not an impetus of individual thinking like Clare Short, or even Charles Clarke. Ever. Similarly smooth is her career in the Labour Party. From candidate to MP to Parliamentary undersecretary, from Minister of State to Party Chairman to Senior Minister. Spotless.

Like Monbiot puts it, as he addresses Blears in the form of an open letter: "It seems to me that someone of your principles would fit comfortably into almost any government. All regimes require people like you, who seem to be prepared to obey orders without question. Unwavering obedience guarantees success in any administration."


Stan Moss said...

Look at how the other sheep leaped to her defence.
David Blunkett, in a letter sent to the Guardian:

"George Monbiot's scurrilous, unjustified and pathetically spiteful diatribe against Hazel Blears is the kind of lowest form of journalism that is dragging this country into the gutter. "

Of course though, Blunkett doesn't address a single one of the factual points raise by Monbiot.

Helen Highwater said...

Clare Short rocks!

Madam Miaow said...

Stan, George must have hit home to elicit that response. If they're not hopping mad, you haven't done your job.

Monbiot's last sentence is chilling. And not in a good way. So bloody true.