New. Just as new Labour was hardly specific in offering anything actually new, the subsequent political formation will have to invent the semblance of something new, of ‘movement’ and transformation, while once again presenting the trick of the same old right-wing ideas as innovation. Those who fell for the grubby hype of Blair’s new broom will be happily swept up in the transition to Brown and not for a moment notice, or think, that the replacement of the figurehead means little in itself. The new Labour project continues to leach off the old idea of Labour while revising every one of its policies and ideals. That this should give serious pause for thought and initiate a reassessment of why Social democracy was so weak it could be hijacked is never raised amidst the false drama of when Tony will go. A focus upon a minor spectacle disguises the rotten corrosion of the core.
Meanwhile, Donations. The ‘scandal’ of donations to the Labour Party for Peerages or passports (the Hinduja bros.) is strangely revealing of the failure of Labour to break with the ruling class system. Why would a government, nominally in charge of taxation, need to go begging to big business? To do so is not primarily a way of securing the Party’s finances but rather a way of deflecting and avoiding the obvious task of a Labour government which should be the systematic redistribution of wealth from rich to poor via mechanisms such as corporate taxation [really?, oops – ed]. As beggars, albeit in a rarefied atmosphere, the Party presents itself as weak and helpless, subject to lager forces of capital in front of which it can do nothing but prostrate itself. It renounces any idea of governing in favour of being the administrative assistant of the super rich. It refuses the very idea of redistribution. Any chance of a favourable pay settlement, workplace reform (safety, pensions) or infrastructure initiative (transport, health, education) can be dodged in a climate of constraint where the minor inconvenience of scandal secures the greater convenience of not having to govern.
Same as ever. 1950. The appeal to traditional British values is a spurious trick designed today to reconcile an overworked and underpaid population with the material austerity of the post- war period at the very time that capitalist profiteering reaps its greatest rewards and the polarization between rich and poor is massively increasing everywhere. No longer is it acceptable, so goes this routine, to pay the price of prosperity by funding a partial mitigation of uneven economic circumstance though welfare and tolerance. Today though, a price must still be paid, and the ‘fair price’ we are persuaded to accept now involves restraint and cut-backs, and the ‘harsh but fair’ removal of welfare from those who might most need it. This austerity is accepted, even actively welcomed by those ‘individuals’ who have been made to feel there is nothing they, or their alleged leaders, can do about it.