Has Ed Miliband really broken with New Labour?
Norman Tebbit foams at the mouth on March 7 2011:
it is … obvious that however often I write here (and elsewhere) why I remain a member of the Conservative Party people like britishindependence [a regular commenter on his telegraph blog] still froth with a heady mixture of ignorance and ill manners. So let me say it again. The Conservative Party is my Party. I joined it 65 years ago, long before [Daniel] Finklestein and [David] Cameron were born. I do not see why such recent arrivals in the Party, unable to accept its culture, should push Conservatives like me out.
Since its Tebbit I’ll only administer the mournful music of a pin-sized violin, though I feel his pain; allow me to diagnose the problem.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall not only did Communism die, but all grand narratives were reduced to ashes. The implications were that no system of governance would be perfect, and so politics would have to pursue crisis aversion and hope for the best.
Post-war theories of economics would have to be employed indefinitely, and since global politics rejected socialism and unfettered markets, we’d have to find ways of living with boom and bust, credit-induced ignorance and torrents of misery, rather than finding its cure.
All political parties – including Tebbit’s Tories* – would have to accept this new political paradigm. Indeed, from the other side, Labour seemed to do pretty well out of this shift. Seventy-eight of Labour’s gains in 1997 were in the suburbs – Blair and New Labour’s pursuit further gains in this area were based on three things: 1) C2 (skilled working class), D (working class) and E(lowest grade) will vote for Labour anyway; 2) they could argue that the whole world was waking up to “third way” politics i.e. Clinton in the US, Gerhart Schröder in Germany, even Zapatero in Spain; 3) how long can a group of posh boys argue the case for working class politics for, particularly when the Tories are too right wing for C1 (lower middle class) and B (middle class).
The New Labour, rightwards leaning entryists, aimed to show that the world was moving in their direction (the third way) and that they could feasibly sell out Labour party principles in pursuit of this; while they spun this lie professional politicians changed the language of the Labour party, and while you’d expect many to kick up a fuss instead left-wingers resigned en-masse, basically accepting the premise that the party with the historic link to the trade union movement – which protects the rights of workers in all trades – should move to the right, with their backing, effectively allowing for the dissolution of the left in British politics.
Still, New Labour is over now, right? Ed Miliband recognises the union link, were it not for them, it’d be his brother in charge, right? He’s addressing the TUC march on March 26, right? But his silence on critical matters speak volumes – and we ought to judge a person by his actions not his words, right? Miliband and Balls should be devouring the coalition government for their agenda, but they are playing the safe game and buttoning up. Cuts are taking effect now, council budgets are being slashed with the vulnerable taking the worst hit. And yet we wait for the opposition to take its enemies (?) to task.
Cautious voices tell us that Labour should hold their message – wait until the cuts bite, wait until the growth budget, wait until the LibDems cause a stink, wait until… . What would Blair and Brown, under the shadow of Mandelson, have done? Stayed silent. Has New Labour really died? It’s legacy is being nodded to by Miliband’s silence. There are degrees of separation between him and Blair, to be sure, but we need to see the knife being wielded in the back of “third way” vacuity for good, and not just in words.
* Apparently (I didn’t know this before) “When trying to understand George Osborne Budgets, you need to bear in mind the mantra that he and his team live by: in opposition you move to the centre, in government you move the centre.”