Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Labour's trainwreck

How bad do things have to get when cabinet ministers coming out in favour of their boss is actually news. I mean what next? The tube announcing when the lines are working?

Personally I think it would be crazy for Labour to ditch Brown this close to the election, and I suspect they know it too, but the collective wail coming from the soon to be redundant Labour MPs just makes their crisis deeper and more horrifying to watch. Labour had their chance to choose a different leader and the cowards blew it. They have no one to blame but themselves.

When you have old New Labour warhorses like Blunkett and Clarke telling the world how ashamed they are of the government it's a pure tribal self interest. They aren't worried about post office privatisation or any other principle - it's about competence and the ability to win elections pure and simple. The difference between people like that and Labour leftists like McDonnell is that McDonnell has a vision of why he thinks Labour should be in power, but the likes of Blunkett and Clarke would not have been out of place in a Tory cabinet.

Now we have this odd situation where MPs are being called upon to renounce any ambition for the top job. Harman, who has done far less to damage the party than Hazel Blears, is having to undergo a loyalty test. I suppose everyone knows Blears is traitor, it's hardly convincing trying to backtrack and say her criticisms were not directed at Brown when she used the barb "YouTube if you want to." It only adds insult to injury that it's riffing off an old Thatcher slogan.

So Harman is having to claim she has no ambitions, that she'll *never* go for the leadership, that she is some sort of worm unworthy of the position. What if she does want the top job? She'd be better than the current goon surely? But I suppose when parties collapse it's always the members themselves who end up smashing them to pieces.

Where's the politics?

What's notable by it's absence is any political discussion. When Blears attacks Brown over the Gurkhas it's because the decision was unpopular not because she gives a toss about the issue itself, just as when the ten pence tax crisis broke it had been in the previous year's budget without a murmur - it was only when the opposition and the press raised the issue did Labour realise it had made a tactical mistake. It was the vote losing error that became the issue not the fact that they'd increased the tax burden on the lowest earners in the country.

I don't welcome their collapse, I invested plenty of my precious votes in Labour over years gone by and still feel connected somehow, but politically we're strangers. This government deserves to die for its wars, its racism, its free market policies, its authoritarianism and so much more.

Labour MPs may launch a rival leadership bid if June 4th's Euro election result is as bad as we can expect it to be (although Labour's last Euro result was pretty poor so the bar is set fairly low) but it will be too little, too late and simply based on venal self interest. A tough right wing government was fine by these MPs when they could keep their seats, its only now that they are on their way out that they've started to complain.

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