Tuesday, September 26, 2006



Blair's successor?

This week, the British Labour party is holding its annual party conference in Manchester. It will be Tony Blair's last conference as leader, and just to remind him of the fact, 20,000 protesters turned out to demand his resignation. But with Blair having already promised to step down at some undefined time in the future, attention is focusing on his expected successor, Chancellor Gordon Brown. Brown's keynote speech today was widely regarded as his pitch for the leadership. Unfortunately, it's clear from that speech that his leadership will not be that different from Blair's. He wedded himself to the Blairite platform of cuddling up to America and being First Cheerleader in Bush's "war on terror", public service "reform" and privatisation, identity cards and indefinite detention, being "tough on crime" and even harsher on immigrants. So anyone looking for a serious change of direction following Blair's departure is going to be disappointed. However, he also laid out a few points of his own, focussing on constitutional reform. He's hinted at a written constitution and the possibility of electoral reform (though Labour, as a large party, naturally prefers preferential voting to proportional representation). And he seems eager to continue the program of devolving power away from Westminster (though it will be interesting to see if this is real devolution, or the clayton's sort pursued by Blair). Most importantly, he said that

it is in my view right that in future, Parliament, not the executive, makes the final decisions on matters as important as peace and war.

This is good news - but still my overwhelming feeling is disappointment that the UK Labour Party can't come up with anything better than this. The Tories are trying to reinvent themselves and push to the centre by discarding Thatcherism. If they are to win a fourth term, then Labour needs to offer something other than "more of the same".

8 comments:

They're a centre-Left party so I'd be surprised if you started singing there praises just because Brown takes over. You're right Brown is not too dissimilar to Blair. But that really is where the majority of the Left is. If you're after something more to your taste I wouldn't be waiting round for Labour to make those sorts of changes.

For those who took exception to Blair's occasional references to his religion, Brown might come as a bit of a shock. I'm not a believer but I think I prefer English Catholicism to Scottish Presperterianism. But that might be a family thing.

Posted by Neil Morrison : 9/26/2006 02:50:00 PM

The Tories (well David Cameron) actually said they'd abolish the Royal Prerogative to declare war (which is what Brown's talking about) also, so no difference there...

Posted by Lewis : 9/26/2006 05:35:00 PM

I hope Labour loses, for its war of aggression on Iraq. If they win it will be confirmation that Labour voters are themselves war criminals, or at the very least that they condone the "supreme international crime."

Posted by Anthony : 9/26/2006 07:08:00 PM

Brown give me that "Im going to fly this party right into a brick wall"
sort of feeling.

Fortunately I'm not to concerned about Cameron. One can give the tories their one term (which has come due) next election.

Posted by Genius : 9/26/2006 08:11:00 PM

this you gotta see

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c382/Truman_/INVESTIGATE-Sept06.jpg

Posted by Anonymous : 9/27/2006 03:49:00 AM

Note that the above link is definitely not work safe, and Ian Wishart would regard it as defamatory.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/27/2006 11:57:00 AM

Neil: it's not where "the majority of the Left" is. It's where Blair is. As an electoral strategy, he has marched his supposedly centre-left party well to the right, to rob the Tories of electoral ground. Meanwhile, his core voters are staying home in droves, and only reason he keeps getting elected is because the Tories were so obviously patently worse (and Cameron will probably change that).

If I was in the UK, I'd probably vote LibDem - and I'd be hoping for a hung Parliament and electoral reform so they could reintroduce some decency back into politics.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/27/2006 12:06:00 PM

It's a clear point of difference between us. It's my view that Labour, both here and in GB, have gained office by appealing to a broad range of voters and that there really is not enough of the Left you refer to achieve this.

You are claiming that there is a large enough section of Left voters that do not vote, but would ensure a Labour victory, that for some reason Blair ignores in favour of moving the party to the Right. I'd say that the initial assumtion is wrong. In NZ Labour has to appeal to centrist voters, most Labour voters are not very Left.

The only party that could be seen as to the Left of Labour is the Greens and they survive because of green politics not because they have strong roots in the working class or unions.

Posted by Neil Morrison : 9/27/2006 01:09:00 PM