What is the Labour Party for these days? What is it supposed to do and for whom? Many years ago the answer was easy. It was there as the political voice of the British working class, through the trade union movement, in their perennial struggle for social justice and fairer pay; the champion of British labour in its class struggle against capital, or so it seemed. These days after the re-branding of New Labour, years of being in government and gaining donors amongst the rich and powerful, Labour has largely abandoned its core electorate. Now it is the champion of the career politician (the privileged ‘champagne socialist’), the public sector, favoured minorities, big spending Big Government, the European Union and its corporatism, and political correctness; banal sound bites speak louder than actions, or Orwellian Duckspeak – engaging the larynx but not the brain.
In power under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Labour was, amongst other things, self-righteously arrogant, authoritarian, spendthrift and reckless; as a result the interests of hard working people suffered. It facilitated (even encouraged) uncontrolled mass immigration, built a dependency culture, reduced social mobility and targeted certain groups (often called ‘privileged’ or the self-employed/small businesses) for blame, vilification and exploitation. Spin, creative statistics and media manipulation replaced delivering actual results, which often deteriorated as seen in, for example, Andy Burnham’s managed NHS. And foreign military adventures became quite normal although any connection with the National Interest was often spurious at best. The sanctity of freedom and private ownership diminished, the State could meddle through incessant nannying of us and seize whatever it wanted, as in Gordon Brown’s raid on pension funds which played havoc with many, modest future pensions.
Labour’s leopard spots probably run too deeply to change and recent indications from the run up to the General Election and the current leadership contest are not encouraging. Labour comes across as inherently anti-democratic, anti-British and by extension anti-British working people. For example, the rhetoric is often along the lines of ‘I/we (Big Government and the EU) know best’. Consequently you (the electorate) can’t have an EU Referendum, direct democracy or even the final say in anything. There is even talk of purging the party of members who do not hold the ‘correct’ line. Anti-Britishness and the history of the destruction of national identity have long roots in socialism, certainly dating back to Karl Marx (‘Workers of the World Unite’) and the Second International. After all, for many years the role models for anything from social democrat to socialist/communist ‘utopias’ (of faux worker power) were overseas and symbols of Britishness were considered reactionary.
Most remarkable is the somewhat delusional culture of denial present within the party, where ideology and tribal affiliations triumph over reality, experience, history and analysis. Mr Brown (aided by Mr Balls) could, for example, defy the basic laws of economics (unlike the Soviet Union), and claim to have abolished boom and bust, whilst indulging in creative accounting via costly PPPs/PFIs (private finance initiatives), and rapidly expanding the size of the public sector workforce. There was also the delusional pre-General Election policy of price controls on energy charges and, these days, the belief that Labour lost because it was not extreme enough; it lost because of a widespread fear that it, together with the Scottish Nationalists, would be too extreme in government. Today Labour’s most visible tragic mistakes remain largely unacknowledged; for example, the social effects of mass immigration on poorer communities or see Labour in Denial, Rape of the Fair Country and The Tragic Ignorance of ‘Green’ Politicians .
The future cannot be very bright for Labour; hemmed in increasingly on the right by the Conservative Party drifting inexorably into New Labour territory (and beyond) under David Cameron and George Osborne, and on the left by the Greens, and Scottish and Welsh Nationalists all offering variations of socialism, and the Lib Dems once they have solved their identity crisis. It is difficult to see where Labour’s ‘clear red water’ from the others will come from and how it can facilitate genuine wealth creation, freedom and improved quality of life for the many in the real, highly competitive and increasingly dangerous world. It also has to contend with infiltration by the fanatical fringe intent on taking Labour to extremes.
Based on recent and not so recent history, Labour seems more likely to seek further inspiration from abroad, adopt bizarre short-sighted policies with disastrous long term consequences and ignore the wishes, hopes and fears of hard working British people.