Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gordon Brown? A loser

Labour has no longer a reason to exist, let alone any political ground of its own

Gordon Brown on the Andrew Marr show last weekend will go down in history as one of the all time displays of political ineptitude. Had it not been for the fact that many viewers fell asleep, it could have become the generation's own JFK moment: "what were you doing when Labour's death knell was sounded on daytime telly"?

But if you did manage to keep awake, you may have even felt a touch sorry for the guy. He just didn't have a clue. Here's a pool of pissed-off voters desperate for empathy, a sense of direction and a more sympathetic government. David Cameron understood all that and -in the words of John Cruddas MP- has taken up "the language of relationships and fraternity". Gordon Brown, instead, is bogged down in Dalek-land and the cryptic self-masturbatory language so reminiscent of my old Politics lecturers at University.

Even the dimmest viewer realised that not even King-of-incest Josef Fritzl replacing David Cameron as the next Tory Leader would hand Brown a chance to win the next elections. Such is the plight of the post-Blair Labour Party.

Because Labour has no longer a reason to exist, let alone any political ground of its own. Imagine the next Conservative government increasing tuition fees: who is going to have any credibility to oppose them? "You were the one who introduced them in the first place and then tripled them", would be the Tories' comeback to any hypothetical opposition. And even if Cameron didn't keep his own promises, any cry of foul play would be sneered at as the pot calling the kettle black - remember Tony Blair's electoral pledge that he wasn't going to increase University fees?

Not to mention fiscal policies rubberstamped by a permawink to the City. Isn't it what New Labour pursued until the bitter end? Remember John Hutton's cry that the very rich don't get rich enough? Or Peter Mandelson feeling "intensely relaxed about the filthy rich"? So very New Labour. Just in case the gap between minted and poor keeps growing under Cameron, given that the Blair years made the very rich more loaded than at any time in history, how on earth can Labour claim they'd pull off a better one than Cameron and his Etonian mates?

A new dubious military adventure based on scattered intelligence? Cries of "Iraq" and "hypocrites" will be the instant putdown against any Labour opposition in the Commons. Or undemocratic tricks played by The House of Lords? Labour had a massive majority, a list of promises to reform it and plenty of time to sort it out. And F.A. is what they did.

Any opposition to potential Tory policies against the lower classes will be saluted by a sound reminder that Gordon Brown meddled with the infamous "10p tax" escapade. Privatisations? Foundation hospitals? "You can talk" will be the answer. Along with more anti-scrounger rhetoric. Can you think of anybody outdoing Labour Minister Caroline Flint and her recent, reckless proposals "to force the unemployed to seek work or lose their council homes"? She made get-on-yer-bike Norman Tebbit look like a dilettante. Seriously, if you haven't got much dough in the UK, brace yourself for some pretty dire times. Because at least during the Thatcher years there was the delusion that a Labour government would fix it. Now, instead, the Labour Party is stuck in a rut, locked up, wedged. And people like Flint will, thankfully, lose their seat. In a recent article in The Guardian, Polly Toynbee nailed it just right: "what exactly [do] they intend to say on those middle England doorsteps[?] Um, well, more or less the same as the Tories, but we're tired after so long in office, while they are fresh-faced and eager. It's not an option, is it?"

Most infuriatingly, you can almost imagine Tony Blair's devilish grin behind the scenes. He's the one who sank the ship and then left Brown to deal with the scraps. Imagine how much of a loser the former Chancellor is feeling at the moment...14 years in the waiting only to inherit a party headed for slaughter. Gordon's going to lose the elections while Blair will like to think of himself as "the invincible one". Or better, the man who destroyed the Labour Party for generations.

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