The Death of Third Way Politics: New Labour - defeated only by old Labour

Democracy
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Ben Harris-Quinney

 

For the right it should be a source of shame, not celebration, that it took a leftist to finally kill off Blair, and that Blairites now feel more at home in the Conservative Party.

When I first got involved in politics in the early 2000s the conservative movement in Britain, then entirely in line with the Conservative Party, was motivated by one thing - ousting the government of Tony Blair which had opened Britain's borders to 10 million immigrants, put British troops and citizens in harms way under false pretences, and would eventually leave the nation bankrupt.

Those involved in the movement, from that time right up to the 2010 general election, were motivated in campaigning for an end to Blair, not an heir to Blair.

For all of the criticism of Jeremy Corbyn's politics (and much of it justified) I cannot reach for a single figure in British history who has more greatly damaged the nation from within than Tony Blair.

His Premiership rests utterly discredited, and any claim he had over the Labour Party has now also been dismantled as its members roundly rejected his command to ditch Corbyn.

For the right it should be a source of shame, not celebration, that it took a leftist to finally kill off Blair, and that Blairites now feel more at home in the Conservative Party than Labour.

The former assistant to the Conservative Party Chairman, Paul Abbott, writing for the Tory Reform Group, has suggested that Blairites should be allowed to join the Conservative Party for £1 (a 96% reduction on standard membership).

This has been echoed by both the former and current editors of the "Conservative Home" website, where it was argued that the Conservative Party should "throw it's doors open" to the disgruntled Labour membership in Parliament and at large.

As Peter Hitchens has argued in response however, the Conservative Party "now represents a brawling coalition ranging from the Gay Liberation Front and fanatical feminism to the outer edges of UKIP". An extra helping of Blairites would only unnecessarily further take the Conservative Party towards ideological irrelevance, centrism and perennial internal conflict.

What the suggestions to co-opt Blairites assume is that the purpose of a political party is simply to achieve and hold power, rather than to actually stand for anything. An endless conveyor belt of managed relative decline to fudge our political process with systemic intransigence, and silence any genuine debate.

But even for those who think psephology is king, it should give pause for thought that Cooper, Kendall and Burnham were so soundly rejected by the Labour membership as soon as they were given a chance to have their voices heard. It begs the question would these people be politicians at all if the people at large were at any point given a choice in their candidate selection, before they were propelled into safe seats by huge Party resources?

Sadly the democracy that has broken out in the Labour Party - which has rapidly turned them into the largest political movement in Britain with almost 700,000 members and affiliates, could never happen under the increasingly centralised and overbearing management of the Conservative Party. There can be little doubt that if Conservative Party members were given the same level of choice offered in the Liberal Democrats, and now in Labour, the Party’s positioning and make-up would be radically different - and UKIP would be unlikely to even exist. 

The Party mandarins at CCHQ no doubt consider themselves very clever in not allowing democratic engagement and a similar cull of their cousins in New Labour in their own camp, and they will continue to feel that way until the inevitable point that their demise comes as quickly and as brutally.

It would seem that even more than winning elections at any cost - the modern Conservative Party is concerned with maintaining the status quo, a status quo they inherited from New Labour.

The real left is something that is roundly derided and lampooned in the UK media, but the real right is despised and feared. The reaction to Corbyn's equivalent being elected on the right would probably be custodial intervention - because a right wing leader would be far more likely to get elected, and change Britain swiftly and radically, the metropolitan establishment would exercise every power to prevent it from happening. The Conservative Party could, if it wanted to, return to the right, and it would only enhance its ability to win the next election - but more importantly to fix a Britain that remains broken.

The most discussed political figures of the last few months, Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump, have more than media fascination in common, the fact that they are polar opposites in a political, and almost every other sense, is also their common ground.

They represent, alongside Farage, Le Pen, Tsipras and Varoufakis, the bitter
expressions of discontent towards the third way centrism that has dominated western politics for the last two decades.

The Blair model of standing for office whilst standing for nothing is well and truly rumbled, with his successor as Labour leader now suggesting he belongs at the Hague rather than the House of Commons.

Whilst Cameroon and Co. might be jubilant at their recent election victory, they represent the ever decreasing circle of the modern establishment, as support for the third way generation of politics continues to mine the depths of public confidence.

Neither Trump or Corbyn are likely to make it to highest office, but the machine political operators in their wake can't possibly have ignored the stellar popularity they have achieved by performing the revolutionary act of speaking without filter, and refusing to apologise for what they actually believe.

The constant drone of the political class that they are "doing more" to address public discontent in politics are handed their defining answer by figures like Corbyn and Trump - people want genuine leaders, not front men for focus groups.

We have heard the endless crowing of the commentariat after each controversial statement these rebels against the system make:"Surely now they must leave the stage in disgrace", and yet, no doubt to the great chagrin of the metropole, their poll rating just keeps on climbing.

The third way is long dead in the minds of the public,  now it has to be killed off in the media and Parliament. The best mantra for the young and politically interested to adopt would be: the time to go along to get along is over.

Regardless of whether you like Corbyn or Trump, they are something different to the Blairite politician, a sign of change to the hitherto "politically correct" constraints of debate, and at this point ANYTHING different is good.

We have not seen it yet, but it can only be so long before a leader emerges that combines authenticity and electability, and such a figure is likely to very quickly become unstoppable.

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