Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Labour is now beyond belief

Opinion surveys often reflect no more than the social mood of a particular moment, but the Guardian/ICM poll published today will nevertheless come as a bit of a shock to New Labour. The polls shows support for the Conservatives climbing to a lead that could give them a narrow majority in the Commons, while Labour has plunged to a 19-year low.

Significantly, 72% also say that government policies are at least partly responsible for the increased terror threat in Britain. A mere 1% of voters think the government’s foreign policies – such as the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan - have made Britain safer. Furthermore, only one in five believes that government accounts of the alleged terror threats are true while more than 20% think they are actually exaggerated.

Overall, you could say, New Labour is now viewed as an untrustworthy, lying bunch of self-seeking politicians. What a state of affairs after nine years in office with thumping great majorities! And what an indictment of the New Labour "project" which aspired to replace the Tories as the favoured party of the establishment and capitalist class.

New Labour took people’s desires for change and trashed them into the ground. Picking up where the Tories left off in 1997, the Blair regime quickly showed themselves, in Oscar Wilde’s immortal words, as cynics "who know the price of everything and the value of nothing". Now they’ve been found out, and as a result there is a real possibility of the once-discredited Tories returning to power.

Desperate governments often do desperate things. We should be on our guard against some joint New Labour-state provocation/war aimed at shoring up authority and credibility. One thing seems certain, however. We are drawing to the end of the New Labour era and the time is ripe for developing an alternative that goes beyond the tweedledum-tweedledee of parliamentary politics.

Paul Feldman, communications editor

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