Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Just what is New Labour?

After watching Margaret Hodge, the Labour "children's minister" on Question Time last night, I finally realised that there is no support for the programme of social justice within the Labour upper-ranks any more. Sure, I knew that it was mostly being left behind, but I really didn't think I'd hear a Labour minister push hard for strongly authoritarian "lock 'em up - it's the best form of rehabilitation!" policies on petty crime.

This morning, once more, we are treated to how Labour are going to use the economy as the centre of their election. We also have news of how Gordon Brown is going to make one million more homeowners.

Now, this in itself isn't bad. It is very difficult to get onto the housing ladder after all. But what I find alarming, and perhaps indicative of all that New Labour stands for now, is the fact that they are making this, and the economy, the number one and two priorities. Social justice, where are you?

It's dead and buried. I never thought I'd see the day where a Labour party spent the vast majority of its time appealing to the nation's back-pockets in the way the Tories have mastered for decades. It was Harold Macmillan, after all, we told us that we'd never had it so good. It was Thatcher who liked to proclaim that it was her who brought about the "homeowner democracy" and liberalising the economy.

Sure, no one is disputing that we need an economy doing well. But that is not all that Labour is about. Whatever happened to public services? Whatever happened to redistribution of wealth? Whatever happened to ironing out the injustices of society?

They're gone. And the worst of all this is that the party of the official Opposition don't give a stuff about any of those, and they're damn proud of it. Where is the choice going to be in this election? Can we ever trust Labour again?

Looks like we're going to have no choice.


At 12:29 pm, April 02, 2005, Blogger Matt said...

It is certainly a sad time in Labour's history. I wonder what the first people to give their lives for the worker's vote and for the Labour Movement would feel if they saw this. Also, how can this be a Labour government when the leader has openly said he doesn't care about the earnings gap? Hmmm....

However, amisdt all the crap, it shows to me that solidarity is the key issue. Members of Labour (and non-members, who should join!) must use the party structure to bring back the decisions to the majority. Labour is left, but the minority Blairites have power, thus they look like the majority. I'm 18 and joined Labour last year after nearly joining the Socialist party. I can be of more use in Labour by restoring some dignity. And besides, I'm not quite revolutionary. Not just yet, anyway.

Nice blog, I shall be a regular visitor.

At 12:51 pm, April 03, 2005, Blogger Eddie said...

Thanks for the compliments, Matt. Glad you like this blog.

I understand your point. It is frustrating to see the damage Blair has done to the party. I'm the first to accept that some reform needed to happen to make the party more electable, including some compromise and modernisation of older pledges... but Blair has effectively mirror-imaged the party he took over.

I respect you for wanting to change the Labour party from within. It's a noble goal, and I'm sure many others are already trying it. At the very least you'll get a vote in the next leadership election, which might come in handy.

I have toyed with joining Labour in the past, but I just can't bring myself to such an endorsement of Blair. It's a paradox I can't resolve: join and try to change the party from within, or refuse to join until it changes. Either way could work...

At 9:48 pm, April 03, 2005, Anonymous robin said...

Well locking up petty offenders does work.

So your both thinking of changing the Labour party from within-thats what people were doing 20 years ago

At 11:02 am, April 06, 2005, Blogger Eddie said...

I'm not saying that every sentence should be non-custodial. First time petty offences probably shouldn't be jailed, but they should be followed up to see what the problem is - be it drugs, lack of family structure, lack of support, no qualifications resulting in no job... and then attempt a solution to stop it there and then.

My point is simply that throwing people in jail does not end the cycle of crime. Each person needs to be looked at individually to see exactly what has motivated them to harm another.


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