Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Getting New Labour out of office

The problems with NuLabour

The New Labour project started as a method of making Labour electable again, by bringing under control their less, shall we say, thoughtful, elements. In government, it has taken that controlling tendency further. It is taking control of our lives.
  1. We are to be tagged, numbered and categorised; "unhackable" database?
  2. Businesses are to be regulated out of allowing their customers choices with legitimate products.
  3. We are to be subject to summary confiscations and surveillance
  4. Our right to protest has been restricted
  5. If they could, they'd ban us from mocking religion
  6. But they don't want us to "glorify" Bad Things
  7. The vaunted change of leadership is being set as a coronation
  8. They're even planning to bypass Parliament and change the law by decree
So much for democracy and individual freedom.

In 1997, I wanted Blair to win. New Labour appeared to be a refreshing alternative to a Conservative govt that had been in office too long and lost its way. Now I want the whole lot of them out of office. It's not just Blair. Traditional Labour voters are increasingly alienated and looking elsewhere or simply not bothering. Labour cabinet posts are being filled by careerist politicians who have never had a life outside the political arena.

Building a coalition of the willing

I have argued in the past that the NuLabour has changed the face of British politics.
  1. Blair has taken them from centre-left to authoritarian centre
  2. This has forced the Conservative Party to embrace it's liberal/libertarian wing
  3. The Lib Dems are the opponents of Labour in seats the Conservatives can never win
It is New Labour that is the enemy, it is the electoral system that creates the problem. To defeat the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems built an unspoken coalition built around tactical voting. In order to remove New Labour, we'll need to do the same.

Who's with me?

Bloggers can play a role in defeating New Labour.
  1. liberal Labour bloggers can work within the party in an attempt to bring the control freaks to heel
  2. Lib Dem and Conservative bloggers can emphasise the links between the parties, and persuade activists to put aside old scores
  3. The non-partisan can continue to highlight issues and attack the govt on its record
Dunfermline has shown the LibDems can defeate Labour and capture their traditional seats in a way that the Tories never can. The Tories will need a clearer run in those marginals where the LibDems may hold the swing. The Labour "awkward squad" can be identified, and potentially left alone or not targetted.

In those seats where Labour hasn't a chance (hello Torbay), then such a coalition is not needed and would be damaging; the differences between the LibDems and the Tories must be emphasised, not hidden - this is of course essential to gain Labour supporters in their traditional heartlands anyway.

Defeating New Labour is doable. It's acheivable. But neither of the two main oppositions can do so alone; electoral mechanics say it isn't possible. I can't face living under NuLab past the next election. But defeating them won't be easy. Are we up to it?

Update: Follow up posts here and here.


Anonymous said...

I agree this situation is becoming very serious; I have a fear that the others are just as bad. I hope we Bloggers can influence the other party’s to offer a reversal of the authoritarian direction of Nu Labour. I have written to my MP on several occasions about separate things, and do not get the feeling the Conservatives are particularly concerned. But I suppose anything is better than this

Anonymous said...


BondWoman said...

I agree with the diagnosis, but we need to be clear about replacement with what. I won't risk a return to the 1980s. I was just too young to vote in 1979. Thereafter my entire young adulthood was blighted by a government which was even more authoritarian and lacking in care than the one we have now. What is it you want instead? Be clearer.

Anonymous said...

I'm with BondWoman. I was petrified that Labour would lose in 2005 - thank you very much, Polly Toynbee - because it meant we'd get a Howard government that felt victimizing minorities was okay.

Cameron... doesn't seem to be as bad. But that "seem" is important. He's still backed by a right-wing party, his libertarian instincts are unproven, and being quite nice is no substitute for policy. My big fear is still that once we have a Tory government we'll suddenly realise that Blair Wasn't That Bad.

There seem to be only two hopes: that Brown does, in fact, turn out to be different from Blair; or that we get a hung Parliament in which the LibDems can force some sort of constitutional reform that weakens the executive and thus breaks the monopoly of power held by leaderships.

So... what the hell do we do?

BondWoman said...

Electoral reform and learn to live with coalition government. Do everything to strengthen civil society. Don't diss professionals just for the sake of it whether those in education, health care, the law or whatever. Bit serious for a blog, I know, but it's important. And in the case of many people in this country, stop being so bloody insular and stand-off-ish about what goes on around us in the rest of Europe.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, thrice yes. And can we please have a political class that doesn't think that "liberal" is a term of abuse, just because Paul Dacre says it is, please? A socially minded party that attempts to lead debate rather than being dragged around by it? A belief that ideas and discussion are more important than dogma and dictat, that subsidiarity and localism are better than trying helpless to control things from the centre, that protecting economic freedom is not the same as kow-towing to Digby Jones every time he uses the words "drowning in red tape"?

It isn't Brown... but it isn't Cameron, Miliband or Huhne either, is it?

Part of me thinks there's a role for a real liberal British blogs movement, like in the US. Part of me was disappointed to find it didn't already exist.

Then the other part of me remembers Howard Dean and shuts up.

Anonymous said...

John/Bondwoman, essentially, I agree, the last thing I want is a return to Thatcher style Tory govt, it's just as bad in a different way.

Bear in mind I openly describe myself as a libertarian socialist (making me both extreme left and extreme right economically at the same time on the traditonal scale...).

Essentially, Cameron for one term would knock sense into Labour, Cameron + LibDems with a commitment to reform and update would be the ideal. At work, proper follow up tonight (if Blogger lets me post).

Bishop Hill said...

The idea of a libertarian blog movement which exists only to slaughter any party which proposes illiberal measures is a good one. This could be used against any of the parties - even the allegedly liberal LibDems have been in favour of bans on smoking on private property and foxhunting.

My concern would be that most people in this country have yet to wake up to the idea that if you can persuade the government to ban something you disapprove of then someone else can persuade them to ban something you value.

How many who opposed the smoking ban were in favour of the foxhunting ban?

Until people can accept the idea of people engaging of activities they find objectionable it is going to be a hard struggle to change things.

But in the meantime there is no alternative but to get Labour out.

Bishop Hill said...

Here's another idea. Your list of Labour transgressions could be put to the other parties as part of a deal.

"You undertake to repeal all this legislation and we will encourage our readers to vote for you."

Presumably that's how Murdoch does it.

BondWoman said...

What I cannot understand is why people get so exercised about the smoking ban as an infringement of "civil liberties". That seems to me to be a complete abuse of the term civil liberties which hardly does justice to the work done by people such as Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela as *real* campaigns for *really meaningful* liberties. The right to pollute the atmosphere (whether in public or private) with loathsome fumes seems to me, whether you support the case or not, to be on a wholly different scale. Moreover, coming at the identity cards issue from a different perspective, since we have already stumbled into a surveillance society with photo driving licences, machine readable passports, store loyalty cards, CCTV (for safer communities of course...), then this is just one step further, but not the profound step across a rubicon that many suggest it is. On the contrary, my opposition is entirely based on cost, and on my hunch that there is a twin movement for this namely the need for Blair and others to appear "tough" and the need to kowtow to commercial IT interests which are very very powerful (and in some cases, very very American). One final point makes me laugh: I read somewhere a blogger suggesting that all these measures were pushing him/her to emigrate, and Germany was mentioned as a possible place to go. Not too bad if you want to be able to smoke freely, but would you really like to live in a country where you have to legally declare your Wohnsitz if you are trying resist ID cards here?

BondWoman said...

Sorry, Wohnsitz - that's your residence.

MatGB said...

Bondwoman: On smoking, I'll do a different post, it's not really civil liberties, it's economic freedoms that concern me.

ID cards? If the ID cards were on the lines of, say, Germany or Sweden, where they're effectively extensions of the passport, I'd not have much of a problem; probably principled objection, but I'd be worried about other things. It's the National Identity Register that bothers me; I don't want my biometrics stored on a centralised database, I don't want to be tagged and categorised.

ID cards unnecessary and expensive. NIR intrusive and dangerous.

On emigration? Assuming you mean Nosemonkey pretty sure he's joking, I think it was me suggested Germany, and the Germans have struck a median between state surveilance and individual freedoms; I've got friends there, visit regularly, not keen on aspects, but, well, not my country.

Currently, we're a lot more free, but the Govts proposal swing that pendulum so far the other way it's abhorrent.

quarsan said...

I would argue that Blair/Brown et al are essentially Thatcherite, but with a taste for authoritarianism that she lacked.

We must use the political system which is why I argue that, for the sake of democracy, we must vote and vote for anyone but Labour.

Let's give it a go in the run up to the May council elections (and remember next years may be cancelled by New Labour) and see what happens.

The alternative is to carry on as we are.

Anonymous said...

As soon as I first heard about the ID cards thing, I was thinking 'Well done George Orwell, you were right.'
.. well... a bit at least..

Deffinately agree on the Lib Dem bit.. I don't want to see what Labour bring out if they win the election again.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your comment about Nu Labour being 'centre authoritarian'. Labour was hijacked by right wing totalitarian extremists who plan and wage aggressive war, collude in torture and so on and so on. The decimation of our civil liberties and transition to overt police state is all part and parcel of their 'vision'.

Thatcher was awful and is responsible for the economic conditions that have allowed fascism to blossom under Blair. I was also a child when she was destroying the welfare state, but the nightmare of Thatcher was a walk in the park compared to what is happening now. We have forgotten history and are cheerfully repeating it.

Work will set you free.

Anonymous said...

Very much agree. It is rotten and must be cut down.

I very much like the idea of a 'libertarian blog movement', a new coalition of the willing, so to speak. Whoever starts it, I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. An interesting idea but I can't see many Labour supporters, of whatever persuasion, putting the boot into their own party on a promise of....well what exactly?

Many still have bitter memories of being out of power for years and don't want to be consigned to the wilderness again.

I'm not convinced that the Tories would not bring in ID cards (they talked about it last time they were in power) or that they would stand up for freedom of speech against religious, and especially Muslim, extremists. They were as quiet as mice during the Cartoon War.

As for surveillence - the Daily Mail love it and so do a lot of Tory voters - and a lot of Labour voters too. ASBOs are very popular among the people who live in the crime ridden estates. Expect more CCTV cameras, more satellite tracking and more "if you've nothing to hide then you needn't worry" rhetoric. The Tories would just carry on where new Labour left off.

I can't see much that would attract most liberal-ish Labour voters to the prospect of a Tory government, even a Cameron one. I can't see much to swing the working class voters that Thatcher captured either.

The way Cameron might win an election is if enough of the pissed-off Labour voters stay at home. I can't see them switching in droves though.

MatGB said...

Steve, you are, of course, correct; the Lib Dems, specifically, need to pick up traditional solid Labour voters if they(we)'re going to pull it off.

That means not just emphasing the thing they agree with Cameron on, but also the things they disagree on. Economics being the important one there.

Essentially, three-way politics under FPTP, the options are Labour still in power, Tories on their own, or Tories and LibDems.

The more LibDems there are, the easier to control the Tories it is. I don't trust Cameron at all, he's blatently copying Blair's media spin style, but he's saying what we want to here. That means we need genuine representation for a party that truly believes in individual freedoms, even if they do fuck up every so often.

I think I feel another post coming on. Libertarian blog alliance? Hmmm...

Gareth said...

You forgot to mention that the leader in waiting is democratically unaccountable (ie. he is not elected on) to any electorate - Scottish or English - on all issues that are devolved to Scotland.

education and training
local government
social work
tourism, economic development and financial assistance to industry
some aspects of transport, including the Scottish road network, bus policy and ports and harbours
law and home affairs, including most aspects of criminal and civil law, the prosecution system and the courts
the Police and Fire services
the environment
natural and built heritage
agriculture, forestry and fishing
sport and the arts
statistics, public registers and records

A vote for Nu Labour is a vote for the Scottish Raj - just say No!

Gareth said...

Also, you forgot to mention the imposition of an unwanted tier of regional government and the forced regionalisation of the fire, ambulance and police services in the face of massive opposition from those service providers and the public they serve.

Gert said...

Great post, I'm linking to it.

My long term solution? Proportional representation...

MatGB said...

Gert, I agree, but many on the Right remain unconvinced; as we need them in order to pull this off (need to use the current system and work within it), can't go further than they're prepared to.

Constitutional settlement of some sort is needed though.

J.UL1R4 said...

I think PR is probably a good thing as Gert says.

I disagree some comments here that things were 'worse' under Thatcher though. Thatcher did encourage a culture of selfishness and she had her own disasters like the poll tax, the stupid pointless Falklands war and she was very harsh on the unions of course. She probably inadvertantly laid the foundation for the despotic Blairism we see today, but, to her credit as well, she recognized absolutely the poisonous danger that could be posed by a malevolent socialist leaning government and the unending damage it could wreak on society if it got a grip.

Blair's 'third way' of relatively (purportedly) free market economics mixed with 'social justice' has delivered a monstrous mix of government and globalism that now presides over your destiny. Meanwhile Blair endlessly chops away at your quality of life with intent to ever grow government and push the UK further and further into a third world police state. All of this set to get 20 times worse under Brown. Companies and private banks love big government for exactly this reason; a captive slave market that is expanding.

Fascism/Communism ammount to the same thing, and higher up the food chain no one believes in either other than as a means of control and monopoly, indeed they have tended to be funded by the same forces. But for what little difference it makes, I strongly suspect that those in Labour (particularly the useful idiots beneath Blair) feel they are delivering Stalin's murderous brand of tyranny rather than Mussolini's or Hitler's, after all many Labour MPs are 'former' communists. (Perhaps Blair is rather like Mussolini though).

Similarly, 1984 has been wielded as a manifesto by this government, not treated as a warning, where presumbably it is highly revered as a sacred scripture by these Fabian devotees.

There is no doubt the Conservatives allying themselves with Blair over Iraq was a stupid disgrace, there is no doubt the Tories took a dive with ridiculous fools like IDS, but I think I'd far rather take the ghost of Thatcher any day over Gordon Brown's 'constitution' he going to give you, full of 'social responsibility' that will rubber stamp Blair's police state for good. As for Howard's 'victimizing minorities', all Blair is doing is victimizing everyone. Nonetheless, it was Howard who presided over the beginning of the CCTV programme at the Home Office, who began awarding grants to local authorities to spend on these systems. Presumbably there is something pretty nasty going on within the Home Office overall.

I would also add, it is those like bondwoman who try to rationalize ID cards based on the choking tyranny that already exists who are part of the problem too.

If Blair had a policy 3 years ago of cutting off our childrens' left arms, I guess he/she would be first in line to have their childrens' right arm cut off when Blair announces that as the lastest policy, afterall based on the loss of the left arm it's just a simple progression.

He/she doesn't understand the Orwellian surveillance society is a top down choice, not an evolution. Either that, or he/she works for the government. In any event the cameras are abnormal and need to come down period, it's not a debating point.

Oh, and it isn't 'ID cards' btw, it's an ID slave-grid.

My friend Gert recommended I check out this blog, but judging from some of the comments here, there are still those weirdos who enjoy their slavery.

Anonymous said...

As someone who enthusiastically welcomed the constitutional reform, modernisation and new politics agenda of the Labour party circa. 1994-9, I share much of your frustrations and resentment.

However, there is a big danger in what you are proposing. It is precisely the decent sort of liberal, anti-war, pro-electoral reform, conscientious Labour MPs that you would probably support, who are most likely to lose their seats in any swing away from Labour. It is they who largely represent marginal constituencies; whilst the tribal yes-men and and women with authoritarian tendencies mainly get selected for an represent safe Labour heartland seats.

You only have to look at the last election to see what happens. It was Labour MPs and candidates closest to our own views - the likes of Anne Campbell in Cambridge, Val Davey in Bristol, Jon Owen Jones in Cardiff - who lost their seats thanks to a concerted anti-Labour vote in those constituencies. Whilst the likes of Tony Blair, David Blunkett et al sit pretty on substantial majorities.

The only solution is to push Labour to adopt some form of electoral reform. A hard task I grant you. But there are supporters of reform within the party - from Cabinet ministers down. And some previously hostile MPs are starting to become more open to the idea. So there's a platform to build on.

Anonymous said...

This government is worse than Thatcher's. It is Thatcherite, and also makes fundamental changes to the constitution which adversely affects the way the majority of people in the UK, the people of England, are governed - time and time again.

Also, a lot of work on dismantling the NHS has been carried out since Thatcher left power. Why this cop out - "it all happened in the 1980s"? It didn't - it also happened in the 90s, it is happening now. Psychiatric services have just been cut to ribbons where I live.

There are women fighting for breast cancer drugs in England that are freely available on the NHS in Scotland - these women are fighting for the right to live.

Our ambulance and police services are being regionalised, and unelected regional assemblies rule across England - despite the North East's massive "No" vote. Our counties go next. Large "super" authorities will take over.

I howl with laughter at accusations of "Little Englander" from "Little Scotlanders", and Unionists.

Things have to change, but I don't believe you are barking up the right tree. Things do not apply across the board to the "UK" anymore. You are living in the past.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's particularly down to the party itself, the whole system needs an overhaul to get the best and most genuine people to administer (not govern) the country. this present government is doing so much to damage this country, they are not representative of the people who voted for them and certainly do not do the best things for the people of this country. We live in a lawless society, the law has no power to punish criminals, these people are aware of this and have no deterrent.
Taxes have risen far above the rate of pay rises, they say that consumer spending is rising too fast but do not seem to realise that much of the borrowing is not for luxury goods or frivolities but is down to people borrowing to stay afloat due to swingeing tax increases. I earn a reasonable wage but cannot afford to stay alive at the moment, I do not have any money left after paying all the bills and essentials, have no spare cash to provide for a pension or insurances despite the fact that I don't go out or spend any moneyfrivolously.
I am sick of being victimised out on the road whenever I get in my car to do my job, I saw eight policemen manning a speed trap in Swindon the other day, just after a news Item that stated that three of our local police offices were being closed due to lack of staff, meaning that we now in this area will have more difficulty in contacting police for local crime.
The country is also becoming overrun with illegal immigrants who then work here on the black economy and then sending money out of the country thereby damaging our economy further.
We have a Big Brother state which is getting more oppressive all the time.
Our military have been slashed to the minimum, but are expected to be evrywhere in the world without having the equipment to support them, they certainly couldn't protect this country if anybody decided to invade us at this time.
My teeth are going rotten and falling out because I cannot get dental treatment and the NHS is crumbling (what happened to the extra 1p per pound on income tax which was going to save the NHS??).
Need I go on? It's time the people of this country showed their dissatisfaction at the way this country is run before our economy collapses altogether and we end up in anarchy or even worse, civil war.
I suggest a movement called ENOUGH! If somebody could design a website and put it up (I wish I could)to invite comment, maybe we could start a revolution and eventually gain a better way of life for all. 

Posted by Brian Keen

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Anonymous said...

» International Trial Of Novel Breast Cancer Drug
14/12/06 07:03 from Breast cancer blog from
A clinical trial of a new targeted breast cancer drug, led by
physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer
Center, has begun enrolling patients. The TEACH (Tykerb
Evaluation After CHemotherapy) trial will investigate ...

For useful content on obese women breast cancer ,passive smokers breast cancer and nutrients help prevent breast cancer: check
the url is