May 1st, 1997. I actually remember it well. Sat on the sofa, watching a jug-eared, failed guitarist called Tony Blair walk into Downing Street after a huge landslide victory which saw his New Labour vision come to fruition. I was only four-years-old at the time and my only interests were the Spice Girls and Action Man so I had not yet figured-out my politics, but I still remember genuinely thinking that this man was quite annoying. I don’t know if that was either because I had, even at that tender age, a finely-tuned intuition to awful, doom-mongering politicians, or whether the TV coverage of this was interrupting a rerun of Inspector Gadget, but in either case I didn’t care for Blair much. Twenty years on, my feelings have not changed.
Blair has brought-about a change in British politics that I cannot see ever being reversed. Not only did he alter the concept of party politics, he at the same time obliterated the British political spectrum. New Labour’s shift from the traditional hard-left approach towards the centre was unfortunately a roaring success, and it confined Old Labour (or Labour Classic, or Labour 1.0, whatever you want to call it) to a dustbin of democratic history. New Labour’s appeal was that it offered social liberalism combined with more economic conservatism, essentially offering Tory policies in red clothing, and for a long time rendered the concept of “Tory Guilt” (where a large number of the public vote Conservative but won’t admit it to any exit pollsters, which had been evident at the 1992 Election and more recently in 2015 when, despite hung parliaments predicted, the Conservatives won overall majorities) obsolete. Unfortunately, such was the success of New Labour, that it altered the Conservative Party’s approach, who then came in from the right to the centre-right. Peter Hitchens, on the day after the Brexit vote, described the Conservative and Labour parties as “corpses” that were “propping each-other up with their rigor mortis”. I tend to agree to with this – despite the Tory Guilt factor playing a role in the 2015 Election, the Tories are no longer the same level of conservative that they once were, and today, a huge proportion of people in the Labour Party believe that the Blair approach is what it should be.
This brings me to Jeremy Corbyn. Bless him, he looks like a gently chap who is a geography teacher at a sixth form college, conveying a look on his face that suggests he’s worried that one of his students could one day shank him with a Stanley blade. Despite his cuddly leanings towards high-ranking members of the IRA and his less-than-patriotic stance on the Falkland Islands, I do have some lingering respect and admiration for the man. Apart from his blatant Euroscepticism, his ideology and my own rub along together as badly as sandpaper over an open wound, but I would say this: at least he’s actually trying to make the Labour Party go back to its roots and stand for what it should stand for. Sadly, the New Labour concept has conditioned many into believing that it was what Labour should be about. No, it shouldn’t. As an outsider looking in and attempting to be fair, my summing-up of the Labour Party of old is that they were a party that stood-up for the working classes, opposed capitalism and battled the privileged. New Labour created a generation of privileged liberal elitists who pretended to oppose capitalism under a banner of being working class whilst at the same time tapping their fingers, wondering where their order of a fresh glass of prosecco had gone to.
Whilst I believe that Corbyn’s level of socialism isn’t popular with the majority of this country in this day-and-age, I am certain that this is not the only reason Labour are currently 19 points behind in current opinion polls. Of course, the Theresa May-led Conservatives are implementing David Cameron’s more modern, socially-liberal-yet-economically-conservative manifesto (which, much to Hitchens’s chagrin, seems to work) and are also appearing to make a reasonable and satisfactory – albeit painfully slow – progress with Brexit, but the other problems are within the Labour Party itself. Corbyn’s original shadow cabinet were full to the brim of Blairites who felt embarrassed and regretful that they had given Corbyn the sympathy vote to stand against them, as well as embittered and worried that their champagne socialist world-view was at risk, and stabbed him in the back with tabled motions of no confidence in him thus. So they all resigned, and what was Jez left with? A bunch of hangers-on, desperate for their fifteen minutes of fame, who do not possess the necessary oratory skills to be in frontline politics. Back in the old days, the Labour Party had articulate, cogent and intelligent politicians that, even if you didn’t agree with them, at least sounded more convincing. One generation had Attlee, Gaitskell and Morrison; another had Wilson, Callaghan, Jenkins, Owen and Shore. Unfortunately for today’s generation, they have to endure the likes of Richard Burgon, Jess Phillips and Angela Rayner, just three of a whole carnival of childish simpletons who make the shadow front bench resemble Jim Henson’s workshop. Put yourself in Corbyn’s shoes for a moment – how galling must it be knowing you’re facing a government with people like that behind you? Crumbs, I don’t envy the man at all.
What’s the conclusion then? Well, let’s have a proper old fashioned socialist Labour Party and a proper old fashioned Conservative Party (which, given the number of old UKIP policies they are currently adopting as their own, is closer) with bright minds and bright voices, competing in jousts at the despatch box, leaving voters to make a true choice between sides, rather than choosing between two parties mediating in wishy-washy Third Way cobblers. Tony Blair can even have a say about things too.
Provided that it’s at a witness stand in The Hague.
The week in LOLitics
NOT A LEG TO STAND ON: The Daily Mail‘s front-page picture of Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the subsequent headline beseeching us to look at their legs caused controversy. In the wake of the headline “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!” the British Press Regulator IPSO have received “thousands” of complaints aimed at the Mail for the headline.
Being a modern man with a liberal attitude in instances such as these, I did find the headline quite frankly absurd, and the Mail deserve everything they get for it.
The click-bait-happy MailOnline are no strangers to blatant objectification, and just recently they were guilty of an equally-ridiculous story in which the roles were reversed. Canada’s grinning smugathon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the subject of objectification from women in a story published by the Assistant Editor for MailOnline’s ‘Female’ page Bianca London (@bianca_london).
I don’t remember the British Press Regulator getting any complaints about this blatant case of objectification, do you?
DID UKIP IN FIRST CLASS?: Many stories have been written about Nigel Farage before, but this perhaps is the most random.
Yes, according to 30-year-old pornstar Valerie Fox, Mr Brexit himself “smothered” her with kisses in full view of fellow passengers on a Virgin Atlantic flight and Fox, who reminds me of the Mr Planter peanut sales-mascot, told The Sun that they even contemplated joining the mile-high club, something that Farage, who is 53 today, fervently denies.
I don’t think you did it, Nige, but even if you did, I’d be more ashamed of you for flying Virgin. Oh, and happy birthday, sir.
ENGLAND’S GREEN AND PLEASANT FECKLESS: At their Spring conference, which seemingly used a suspiciously-large amount of electricity, the Green Party gave potential voters a taster of their 2020 General Election manifesto, which included a three-day weekend for all, something with co-Leader Caroline Lucas has previous, when she suggested that butchers in her constituency of Brighton close on Mondays in order to encourage people to not eat meat.
It could lead to a future generation of lazy, unemployed layabouts who will spent all day at home, switching on their TVs and Xboxes, thus damaging the environment. It’s almost as if they didn’t think it through.
TEXIT?: Glug-happy EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that he would support Ohio’s and Texas’s independence from America if President Trump continues to support Brexit and promote it to other EU members.
If you can outrun the populism-mobile, Mr Juncker, then I would suggest a breathalyser.
From Eastleigh to ecstasy
Recognise this man? This a fresh-faced, 30-year-old Nigel Paul Farage, embarking on his first attempt at winning a seat in Parliament. The first ever UKIP parliamentary candidate at the Eastleigh by-election in June 1994, Farage came fourth from six candidates. It was the beginning of his quest to seek Britain’s independence from the European Union.
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, confirming that there is now no going back from last June’s referendum result, and that Britain will be an independent nation again, and also confirming that almost 25 years of hard work, in which he has endured torrents of abuse from his detractors, as well as a lot of personal sacrifice, has been worth it.
Europhiles will rue the day he entered politics, and Eurosceptics will surely owe him a huge debt.
Well done, Nigel.
Follow me on Twitter @MisterJackSmith
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