Neoliberal Blairite Labour is over – New Statesman

End of the line for the Blairites: Labour is coming back to the people - and not a moment too soon.

End of the line for the Blairites: Labour is coming back to the people – and not a moment too soon.

Every day, either on the Facebook page, Twitter or here on the blog, somebody tries to tell the world that Labour is just as bad as the Conservatives (or almost) because the right-wing Blairite neolibs are in control. These people adamantly refuse to believe evidence put before them that this isn’t the case – will they believe today’s article from the New Statesman?

It says: “In today’s party, Blairite stock has reached junk status.

“The brief, flickering hope among some last week that Alan Johnson could be persuaded to take over if Miliband was forced to quit, came to nothing. He was the last, best hope of what remains of the party’s Blairite tribe. And he wasn’t interested.

“Most of its other chiefs are no longer involved in frontline politics (think David Miliband, Alan Milburn, Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon, Hazel Blears, John Reid, Patricia Hewitt and Charles Clarke).

“There will be no sequel.

“The circumstances that propelled Tony Blair to the Labour leadership and on to Downing Street were unique, a conjunction of the party’s desperation to win after four general election defeats in a row and Blair’s personal reputation as “the man the Tories most fear”. For Labour, for a long time, winning became all that mattered.

“Fast forward to today and it’s clear just how parlous the prospects are for contemporary Blairites. They enjoy none of the old master’s advantages… The old Labour right of the party feels short-changed that after 13 years in power, the north and midlands still lag behind London and the south east; demanding a focus on the heartlands rather than the marginal.

“The metro-leftists, who flocked to Blair’s cause, have now reached their political dotage. For the new generation of activists, well to the left of the party mainstream, it will take several more years (and election defeats) before they make a similar journey to the centre.

“The trade union movement, so important in providing finance, organisational muscle and political cover for Blair, (certainly initially) will no longer accept a policy platform of privatisation, contracting out and spending cuts.

“Today’s party grassroots are nowhere near desperate enough to switch off their critical faculties, extinguish their idealism and countenance allowing the party leadership to do absolutely anything to win.”

In other words, Labour’s right wing needs to face up to the fact that they are far – far – out-of-step with the party’s current membership. Labour’s grass roots won’t accept a metamorphosis into ‘Tory-lite’ for the sake of winning because they know that it would achieve nothing – the policies that would go forward would be almost as damaging to the people of the UK as Tory plans.

This is why Ed Miliband has been changing the party. It might not be easy to see because his changes have been announced as individual policies, rather than as part of any overarching philosophical change, but change is there.

It is change for the better, and even if he were to lose the leadership in the future, his successor would continue the trend he has started.

So let’s have an end to all the whining about Labour being “just the same as the other parties”.

The only people who believe that little myth have been listening too hard to Lynton Crosby.

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28 thoughts on “Neoliberal Blairite Labour is over – New Statesman

  1. Andy

    Nope. Not convinced. Labout might not be AS Right-Wing as they were but are still not the party they should be especially on things like Welfare where Blairite Rachel Reeves is saying that Cameron & Co are not doing enough and that she and a future ‘New’ New Labour government will be even tougher on Benefit Claimants. They are just CLAIMING they have changed to get back n power at the first attempt. Labour had 13 years to help people after nearly two decades of Tory rule and all they were was Tory-Lite. As long as groups like Progress are still in (and Call the Shots) in the party they won’t be getting my vote.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Where did she say she would be tougher on claimants?
      She didn’t.
      She said she’d get the benefits bill down – that’s what she meant about being tougher on benefits. That’s a long way from your accusation.
      Are you really saying you’d prefer another Tory or Tory-led government?

      1. Gary R

        So that’s it then: vote for Labour (whether they are for the people or not), or get the Tories?

        I’d rather have policies than scare tactics.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I’ve put plenty of those up on these pages in the last few days. 46 of Labour’s went up over the weekend. How many do you want?

    2. Ley Shade

      Totally with you matey. An article by a Labour supporter, attempting to trot out statements that are going to appeal to both UKIP and Green supporters at once (and subsequently alienating both further) isn’t proof.

      When it comes from an unbiased source, and it’s backed up by actual actions from the Labour party, not voting with the Tories to withhold welfare claimants money, and not forming grand-coalitions in councils, and not appointing Sadiq Khan as the ”green menace” who completely misses what the Green party is about, then I might consider Labour.

      Until then, I’m voting with my conscience and going Green. I’m not selling out to the Red Tories just to keep Blue Tories out. I’d rather have no Tories at all, and moving ”slightly left” isn’t good enough, not when they’re still on the right of the field. A gesture, that’s quickly withdrawn, isn’t going to convince me or any of the other millions people they’ve openly betrayed.

    3. Sam

      I’ll believe Labour have changed when the leadership openly supports striking workers, pledges to re nationalize the utilities without compensation to the current owners and put an end to the disgusting buy-to-let market. Total asset stripping from all tax dodgers would be nice too.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        I’ll support what they’re offering now and put pressure on for them to offer more in the future.

  2. itsalllies994

    Mike have you seen the NHS reinstatement bill by Clive Efford?

    It has some welcome changes, but if Labour produce similar bills on the NHS it will just continue down the same path to oblivion.
    It’s rather vague language and doesn’t reinstate the Secretary of State’s duty to provide healthcare for all, even though that is the title?

    Here is a review by Professor Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick.

    They have also drafted a proper NHS reinstatement bill which undos all of the privatisation for the past 30 years.

    Interestingly no one in Labour took on anything from the bill by Allyson and Peter.

    I’m not saying Milliband is going back to New Labour, but this NHS bill isn’t a good start!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Clive Efford’s Bill is not the law that a Labour government would enact – please do not make that mistake.
      It is an attempt to lessen the effect of the Tories’ changes – during the Coalition Parliament – presumably with the intent of getting the Lib Dems onside.
      I’m surprised that you would confuse what a Labour government would do with a Labour backbench Bill.

  3. davidmorling

    Noises from down the rabbit hole . . . does anyone REALLY believe that a single jot of tory “coalition” barbarity would be reversed by an incoming labour party ?!

  4. andyantichrist

    At a Labour Party event in West Yorkshire this weekend (with Owen Jones) it was clear from the floor that whilst left of centre policies (many of which are promoted by the Greens) are what the majority want, there is still a glass ceiling when it comes to getting those types of policies past the wonks to those at the top.

    It may be what we all want to hear, that Labour is taking a big step to the left, but you still have to get past the advisers and lobbyists, along with the cynicism that greets so many career politicians who haven’t done a days hard graft in their lives, to get people back on side where Labour is concerned.

  5. Steve Kind

    I would love to believe it – and I’ve *never* subscribed to the lazy thinking “they’re all the same” nonsense. However – a couple of things suggest to me that New Labour and the Blairites are far from ready to be consigned to the dustbin history. One was Ed Milliband’s meeting with, and subsequent endorsement by, Blair – and another was this article in the Independent :

    “Mr Miliband’s speech on Thursday, in which he said criticism of his leadership would only make him stronger, has won over the “internal doubters”, says John Woodcock, one of the party’s leading Blairites and the chairman of the Blairite organisation Progress.”

    coupled with a sudden cessation of the rumours about a leadership struggle.

    Sounds to me as though a deal has been done.

  6. jaypot2012

    It’s about time changes where made and that the Blairites are being pushed into the past as Labour needed to change to get anywhere.
    I’d like to see the changes now become more apparent to the public and not just the party and it’s members. We also need to see more changes and more policies being pushed out, showing the tories and ukip that they are there to take Westminster for their own. If they show the other parties that they mean business and make it public, then they will get more votes.
    I’m afraid they won’t get the votes in Scotland as the Scottish Labour really do need to sort themselves out, and that’s going to take a long time – but the SNP have said that they would help with Labour as they would never, ever help the tories.

  7. Andy

    ‘Are you really saying you’d prefer another Tory or Tory-led government?’ Of course not. However, if ‘New’ New Labour get in lets be honest – you won’t be able to tell the difference anyway. Plus in regards to the ‘She said she would get the benefits bill down’ comment. How? By continuing the coalition’s punitive sanctions regime perhaps? I live in a seat that is likely to be a (due to the Lib Dem’s collapse and UKIP taking Tory votes) safe Labour seat at the upcoming general election. Hopefully i will be able to protest vote for the Greens.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Ye gods. You could try looking up the facts for yourself, you know. A quick trawl on a search engine: “Vox Political Rachel Reeves” ought to do it. You’ll see that I’m not keen on her but you’ll also pick up the facts you so desperately need to get a grip on.

  8. Chris Mckenzie

    In my view the Green Party, Left Unity and campaign groups such as the Peoples Assembly etc. can only push the Labour Party leftwards so far until the “glass ceiling is reached”. I believe after the next election the Unions need to threaten Labour by withdrawing union funds unless they move consistently left. If, or when Labour fail to do this (as they historically tend to do), a more robust party such as Left Unity should step up financially supported by key unions, as they offer the most coherent, thorough and realistic radical policies to challenge Labour. Like Podemos in Spain, or Syriza in Greece have done. This might be a pipe dream (?) and will need time – to break down years of habitual trade union support for Labour will be a struggle. The more immediate goal is to get a left coalition of Labour, Greens, SNP into power to get rid of the Tories and try and undo the most damaging aspects. Thank you Mike for myth busting and diligently pointing out the facts on Labour, keep up the good work.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’m certainly not opposed to the left-of-Labour parties that are springing up – if they bring forward policies that start attracting popular attention, in a more coherent way than UKIP has managed, then it’s possible that they will influence Labour for the better, similar to the way UKIP has influenced the Conservatives for the worse. After that, who knows?
      There are a lot of rats that need to be cleared from all the main parties. I think that needs concentrated attention from the grass roots but it seems only a few people can be bothered at the moment.

  9. Gordon Powrie

    I suppose the way Rachel Reeves intends to tackle the benefits bill is to try and get employers to pay their employees more, thus reducing their reliance on in-work benefits. But of course Lynton Crosby and co. put it out that she’d be just the same as her opponents. Yes?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Crosbie’s idea is to make people believe that there’s no difference between any of the main parties, so you might as well not vote. Then of course the Conservative voters will still go out and vote while the Labour supporters and everyone else stays at home. I don’t think his plan extends to individual Labour frontbenchers.
      Rachel Reeves has put a plan forward, although it’s not a very good one. You should be able to get the details if you go on a search engine.

  10. Darren

    Ed Balls is the one who scares me. On record as being ready to continue the austerity programme, which does not bode well for social security budgets. They’ll be stuck with the new bunch of crooks who are taking over from Atos too, unless they’re going to be prepared to write off the cost of the contract and scrap the WCA altogether. I haven’t heard them commit to that, yet it’s one major issue that needs to be put to sleep once and for all.

    And from what Reeves has been saying, I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could spit into a hurricane.


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