Subject: [SocialistWorker.org] A bout of mutual loathing
View original article here:
Column: Mark Steel
======== A BOUT OF MUTUAL LOATHING ===========================================
Back in 1997, none of us, not the most cynical, realized that a New Labour
government would end up being chastised on a cricket commentary show 11 years
later for being too pro-war and pro-America.
September 11, 2008
ONE OF the main reasons for the founding of "New Labour," its supporters
insisted, was to ensure there would never be a return to the days when Labour
was forever rowing with itself, over issues such as nuclear weapons or the
unions. And this has been a huge success, because now they all agree on those
issues, and instead hate each other because they all want a job that's more
important than the one they've got.
Where an argument in the Labour Party used to be a battle about the meaning
of socialism, now it's a posh version of a power struggle in a borstal. It
would be more honest and much more thrilling if Alistair Darling put some
pool balls in a sock and whacked them round Brown's kneecaps, yelling "Now
listen--I'm the daddy in this party now--right!" And then flushed Ed Balls'
head in the toilet.
None of the current Labour leaders appear to believe in anything, except for
what's best to get them through the next week. But none of them can admit
this and say, "The main and substantial difference it would make if I were to
be prime minister is that, in those circumstances, it would be me being prime
minister, and none of the others."
And those that can't seek the post of prime minister are all lining up behind
whoever they think will look after them if they win. And so they might as
well choose who's on what side by picking teams. All the MPs can stand in a
huddle while Miliband and Ed Balls take turns in picking their favorites,
until at the end, there's just Blunkett and Prescott, standing with their
hands in their pockets, while the two captains whisper, "I don't want either
of them." "Well, you've got to have one." "It's not fair, they were on my
side last time."
Explaining his reasons for founding "New Labour," Tony Blair stated he never
again wanted to see the party receive the vote it got in the 1983 election.
But at the moment, it looks like the 8 million votes it got that year is a
height it can only aspire to.
So if Brown departs, maybe one candidate who should consider standing for
leader is Michael Foot. At least his conference speech would go, "Yes, aha,
now, Georgia, well some of you don't remember Suez, well this Cameron chap,
as Ophelia might have put it, seeks the wind, is that right, it was the same
with Neville Chamberlain," and most people would say, "It's certainly an
Never again, the idea went, would the party go into an election with ideas
that were clearly a minority view in the country. Yet every possible
contender for leader still backs the Iraq war, and no one who opposed it from
the start will be allowed near the contest.
Or to put it another way, the 11 years of New Labour government were summed
up by the cricket commentary on "Test Match Special." A commentator was
complaining about the rigorous security at the ground, as it had taken 45
minutes to get in. Then, suddenly, up popped the voice of Geoff Boycott,
saying, "You've Tony Blair to thank for that." "I'm sorry," said the first
commentator. "He was told," said Geoffrey, "that if he went around causing
wars, there'd be an increased risk of terrorism, but he took no notice, he
thought he knew best."
You could feel the BBC governors shrieking, "Shut him up--tell him he
couldn't play fast bowling or something," but Geoffrey was adamant.
So there we are--back in 1997. None of us, not the most cynical, realized
that a New Labour government would end up being chastised for being too
pro-war and pro-America on "Test Match Special" by Geoffrey bloody Boycott.
No wonder they're shafted.
/First published in the/ Independent .
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Columnist: Mark Steel
Mark Steel is a comedian, a columnist for the /Independent/  newspaper,
and a socialist and activist in Britain. He's the author of two collections
about contemporary Britain, /It's Not a Runner Bean: Dispatches from a
Slightly Successful Comedian / and /Reasons to Be Cheerful /--as well
as /Vive la Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution/ .
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Published by the International Socialist Organization. Material on this Web
site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd
3.0) license, except for articles that are republished with permission.
Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for
non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and
Sign up for e-mail alerts from SocialistWorker.org.
Published by the International Socialist Organization