The Fall of the House of Labour
[col. writ. 5/12/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal
When Gordon Brown surrendered the post of Prime Minister to his Conservative opponent, David Cameron, he signaled the collapse of the Labour Party from its heady days of the '90's, at the end of the Thatcher era.
In 1997, when Tony Blair took power, he gave an extraordinary speech to the Labour Party Conference, which looks all the more remarkable in hindsight. Blair announced to the assembled throngs:
Since this is a day for honesty, I'll tell you my heroes aren't just
Ernie Bevin, Bye Bevan and Attlee. They are also Keynes,
Beveridge, Lloyd George. Divisions among radicals almost
one hundred years ago resulted in a 20th century dominated by
Conservatives. I want the 21st century to be the century of the
radicals [Labour & Trade Union Review, No 197 (May '09) .p3]
Blair became the youngest Prime Minister since 1935, and an heir to a party that held power only 25 years in the preceding century. He held power for a decade before turning it over in 2007 to Gordon Brown, the former Chancellor of the exchequer, the British equivalent to Finance Minister.
The Iraq war and its discontents soured huge swathes of the population on Labour, and small parties of left, right and center began to nibble off of the behemoth's carcass.
George Galloway, of the anti-war party, Respect, spoke to Parliament in June, 2009:
When, in 2005, I was elected as the first left-of Labour member of parliament in England for 60 years, I was elected because of Iraq. The Labour Party's membership has halved because of Iraq. Millions of Labour voters have left them and new parties - some of the left and some of the right - are proliferating and strengthening, in substantial part, because of Iraq. That has happened not directly, but indirectly because of the poison that the Iraq question has caused to pulse around the British body politic. The lack of credibility of the British political class has also been the result of Iraq. [Labour & Trade Union Review, No. 199 (July/Aug. '09) p.11]
Blair and his supporters turned the government into an instrument of corporate power, and an extension of U.S. Imperial power, and thereby betrayed not just their party but their class, and their nation. For in fashioning 'New Labour', he sold the machinery of the state to the marketplace, and turned his back on his constituents. In truth, workers had a party in name only.
Their slavish bowing and scraping to Bush, Wall St;, and the banks and financial houses of London led to the fall of Labour and the emergence of Conservative power in Parliament.
As for his 'heroes', they'd hardly applaud the mess Blair and NL made of the party. For Ernest Bevin (1881-1951) was quoted as saying: "There never has been a war yet which, if the facts had been put calmly before the ordinary folk, could not have been prevented... The common man, I think, is the great protection against war." Aneurin Bevan (1897 -1960) once said, of his loathing for the Tories 'New Labour'--indeed.
--(c) '10 maj