Left Out Liberal

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Labour, New Bullshit

As we all know, we've heard a lot of nonsense talked about the issue of "respect" in society the past few days. Sure enough, it is a concern for many people, and I acknowledge that. But the "solutions" we've heard the past few days have been half-baked and mostly not worthy of any attention. The uniform for people on community service was the pinnacle of all these for so many reasons that it is more worthy analysing how a moron like Hazel Blears is in government, rather than consider how useful her "solution" might be.

But what is remarkable is that the media has let New Labour and Blair adjust recent history. The day Blair was elected for the third time was quite possibly the very first instance in which he mentioned the problem of "respect" in society. Since then he has talked about it endlessly, even getting the Queen to join in yesterday, complaining that she just wasn't getting her "props" any more, and the feral (suddenly the media's favourite word) youth just can't help but diss her.

Pardon me while I chuckle uneasily at the irony of an unelected symbol of all that is wrong with Britain's class culture is given words by the government to expound on the lack of respect in society. Fuck your deference and the horse and carriage she rode into Parliament on.

Blair's blather has now reached mountainous proportions. There's not a day that goes by where he tells everyone he is going to work hard to restore respect. Indeed, the more he says it, the more I think this is becoming outrageously shameless. New Labour are now claiming that they have a mandate to bring in everything in the Queen's Speech announced yesterday, and so it would be wrong for the Lords or anyone else, including those naughty rebellious backbenchers, to oppose it. Remarkably, this includes the issue of "respect".

I can count the number of times Blair complained about respect during the election, or indeed in the manfesto, on one hand. The word "respect" appears five times, and in only three of these cases does it actually refer to ensuring respect in the school classroom for example. It certainly does not make a case that there is a breakdown in social order from these so called "feral" youths.

So does New Labour have a mandate for this? After all, if they really had spent many days in the election talking on this issue, I can't help but feel that it would have played right into the Tories' hands, since this was a crucial part of their campaign. New Labour didn't talk about this issue for the simple reason that to do so would completely undermine everything they had done over the last eight years.

Instead, it was shamelessly stolen from the Conservatives. Indeed, so many things in yesterday's Queen's Speech were done so. School discipline. Cleaner hospitals. More police (OK, community service officers). Controlled immigration. Except the lower taxes bit, naturally. We've heard all of those before. They aren't particularly Conservative things, as we all know. But they are centrist, and they populist. So Blair grasps them with his greedy hands. Anything to stay in office.

The media is wrong for letting Blair blind us all that he has always been concerned with this issue. He only became concerned on May 5th, when he realised it's a good excuse for more ridiculous and badly drafted legislation, especially now there're 17 months of a Parliament to fill with the usual top-down, centrally controlled and high spin factor authoritarianism.

Here's to the next 4 (or 5 if we're unlucky) years!