People are sitting and watching the debacle that is David Cunliffe unfold before their eyes. They wonder at how the Labour party could have got it so wrong, after the heady days of Helen Clark’s power.
Part of the problem lies with that legacy of Helen Clark. She turned the party into a cult of personality and then surrounded herself with people who lacked ability, colour or ideas…lest they rise up and challenge her. So focussed was she on neutralising threats from within that she didn’t see John Key sneak up on her.
The marks of Helen still pervade the party, and now they seek to purge anyone from the centre right in the party. This of course has already been foreshadowed in the UK where Labour suffers the same issues.
What is it with British political parties? Is there some masochistic tendency ‚Äď a perverse self-destruct mechanism ‚Äď which invariably makes them denounce the very thing that has provided them with unprecedented success? You must accept that there is an uncanny parallel between the Conservative modernisers‚Äô renunciation of Thatcherism after a single electoral defeat which followed on 18 unbroken years of power, and the Labour party‚Äôs rejection of its New Labour incarnation after an unprecedented three terms in office.
Somehow the idea became received wisdom that winning three times in a row ‚Äď and then losing ‚Äď was a kind of moral catastrophe rather than being a simple (indeed, healthy) consequence of democratic life. Since when have politicians assumed that when they lose an election it must be a sign that everything they have been saying and doing is totally unworthy and repulsive to the people ‚Äď who had, until that point, been voting for them consistently for nearly two decades?
But here we are again. Labour is roughly where the Tory party was around 2000: in full-on self-flagellation mode ‚Äď renouncing the version of itself which had been its most stupendously effective election-winning formula in post-war history. Blairism has become the precise analogue of Thatcherism ‚Äď the evil spectre that must be expunged before the party can regain trust and credibility. In the case of Tony Blair, there is a convenient ‚Äď and fatally confused ‚Äď issue which can be used to justify his disgrace. His foreign military ventures and his association with the Bush ‚Äúwar on terror‚ÄĚ have given licence to his perennial enemies within Labour to cast his whole political programme into disrepute.
That he transformed the Labour message, so as to make it not only electorally attractive but consistent with modern British social attitudes, is deftly buried by the Neanderthal Left, which always hated his reforms and his attempts to break the party‚Äôs dependence on the trade unions.
This brings us to Ed Miliband, who was put into the leadership by those unions precisely for the purpose of driving out the last traces of the Blair heresy. So the lesson that Blairism learnt from Thatcherism ‚Äď that contemporary British politics is now all about individual aspiration, self-determination and genuine fairness (which is to say, you get out of life pretty much what you put in), rather than the old Left dogmas of class hatred, passivity and state-run collectivism ‚Äď must now be expunged from Labour‚Äôs message. ¬†¬† Read more »