Remember what I was saying about Polly Toynbee?
I don’t take back any of it, and those who were saying I was too harsh should take note of the following few paragraphs from her latest execrable offering.
Those who think about [a leadership challenge] also think the cabinet so spineless that none will dare. “Oh, wake me up if anyone does anything,” said one despairing MP. Ministers look at one another and say nothing. Older MPs say the young ministers simply have no idea how horrible eight or 18 years in a rump opposition will be, watching Tories demolish cherished Labour projects.
They lack mettle, this generation that had it all on a plate. They never lived through years of fighting Militant and forging New Labour. This is their Clause Four moment, their moment to save the party, and they’ll probably flunk it. It should have been before the long summer break: the autumn conference will be dire. The one who dares first may be the one who deserves the crown.
They have another fear: if Labour goes down badly under Brown, a rump party of mainly leftist old Labourites will select some unelectable leader and seal the party’s fate. Better to choose the best now so that, even if Labour loses, it’s a soft landing with a good leader who lives to fight another day.
You can feel the atmosphere of terror, that when New Labour goes through their own 1983 that the left might recapture the party. It’s pretty unlikely given how deeply New Labour have managed to entrench themselves, but it’ll be interesting to hear how the Millbank Tendency justify their own continuation following the electoral annihilation of 2010 or whenever we finally hold the election.
Just what constitutes ‘a good leader’ in Polly Toynbee’s eyes is anyone’s guess, but evidently anyone to the left of Cruddas doesn’t qualify.
On the other hand, there are elements of Toynbee’s commentary which really make one aware why this government is going to be thrown out on its ear. Older MPs say that the younger lot have no idea how it will feel watching the Tories demolish Labour’s cherished projects. Well, firstly I would say that the Tories probably won’t bother: New Labour and the Tories have a lot in common.
The privatization of the health service etc will simply continue apace.
Secondly I would say that of the younger people parachuted into parliamentary seats most of them probably won’t be terribly bothered. Most of them were simply interested because it was a well-paid job; they’ll find the same thing with Merrill-Lynch or whoever else when they cross into the private sector to market their connections and knowledge obtained while at Westminster.
Most laughable of all is that the least unrepentant Blairites and Brownites will merely be sorry that they can’t abolish Clause Four all over again. Ironically people like Toynbee, having so thoroughly cleansed the Party of the Left they despised, have no one to blame except themselves for the sword of Damocles currently loitering above us. Oh they’ll find a way to weasel out of it, but that’s the final truth.
Triangulation and all that guff could survive for a while on the tidal wave of anti-Tory sentiment that swept the country in 1997 but eventually the impulse would depart if Labour simply appeared to be the slightly-to-the-left arm of the Conservative Party. That’s precisely what has happened. The electoral logic of New Labour has vanished into the mist, which is the next stop of a shower of smooth, Mandelsonian arseholes who can’t be having with a bankrupt party.
It’s a sorry mess but it’s nice to see that there is a Priestess of TINA (There Is No Alternative) will be around to read us our last rites. Step up, Polly Toynbee.