FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Third Way to Nowhere

“The emergence of politicians-without-politics, and of PR machine parties without core support has made the electoral system more arbitrary and fickle… Few voters really care either way — and with justification.”

Mike Hume,  4/29/08

May Day, a time for the working class to ponder and celebrate its traditions and accomplishments brought bad news for so-called New Labour in recent British elections. In London’s mayoral election, even long-time incumbent Kenneth “Red Ken” Livingstone was narrowly defeated. It was that kind of day. Livingstone never really warmed up to the rightward drift of Britain’s traditional Labour Party. Years back, Tony Blair tried expelling him from the “Labour caucus” and announced that he would be a “disaster” if elected mayor. Londoners went on to reject Mr. Blair’s advice. Repeatedly.

Ultimately, of course, Britain rejected Mr. Blair and, it would appear, what he and his henchmen have done to the Labour  Party. For, just as in the US  where Bill Clinton, Joe Leiberman, Bob Kerrey and other corporate minions engineered the destruction of the 20th century New Deal party, so too in England, Blair and company savaged Labour. They asserted that there was a “Third Way” between the traditional interests and platforms of Right and Left. By adopting much of the Thatcher-ite rhetoric and tendencies on fiscal policy, privatization, “free” trade, and the rest — New Labour became Thatcher-lite.

Among the Clinton-clone New Democrats, it was assumed that working people and other traditional party constituencies had “nowhere else to go.” Since the base could safely be taken for granted — even insulted and punished — the blow-dried and telegenic candidates were now free to court the opposition vote.

Labour squandered much of its apparently overwhelming political capital through Blair’s “junior-partnership” in the American war of opportunity against Iraq. But, most UK press accounts seem to agree that the May massacre may be largely a result of their failure to protect workers’ economic interests.

The latest galling affront was new prime minister Gordon Brown’s policy making Britain’s income tax less progressive. Recent — 4/6/08 — elimination of the lowest 10 percent tax bracket (or “10p band”) has pushed England’s lowest paid workers into paying at a 20 percent rate. There were various rebates and other flavorings to make the medicine go down but nobody was fooled.
Labour MP Jon Cruddas told Sunday Mirror  readers, “Over the last few years Labour has been losing elections because millions of our core supporters have decided to stay home on election days… Let’s not mess about — our people are abandoning us, we’re sinking fast… The senseless 10p band row hurt us — but it’s only one example of where we’re going wrong. Hitting hard-working people in their pocket is not bright — but the strategists thought it was. You see they needed some cash so they could cut taxes for the so-called middle-class swing voters.”

Does any of this sound familiar?

Cruddas continued, “The New Labour attitude that you can kick the workers from pillar to post because ‘they’ve got nowhere else to go’ has reached its ludicrous conclusion with [this] election… [T]he picture for Labour was bleak. The people we have let down found someone else to vote for after all… There has been a rupture between the political-class and the working-class.”
Cruddas cited the “crumbs of comfort in the fact that Ken Livingstone bucked the trend and kept core Labour support on board. He has never played by Westminster rules. But even for him it wasn’t enough.”

In this new, supposedly post-political Anglo-American world,  what passes for debate is a sorry, debauched, and infantilized shadow-play. If the political class has divorced itself from the working class (and it obviously has) then one might as well enjoy the show. It’s wet t-shirt mud wrestling time.

In this reactionary era, the political has become personal. So the London mayor’s race became about “Ken and Boris.” It was a first name affair. Livingstone’s Tory challenger was one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. The former editor of The Spectator , a journalist, television personality and Conservative MP, the King’s Scholar at Eaton and Oxford alum was known for  campaign purposes as “Boris.”

The press loved attaching other b-words to Boris’s nom de guerre: “Boyish” for his looks, “Bonking” for his celebrity trysting, “Bumbling” for his careless  outrages. In one infamous article from 2002 Johnson had berated Tony Blair’s trips to Africa — arriving, Boris sneered, as “the tribal warriors … break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief.” He also alleged that the Queen made such trips because of the “regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

Bumbling Boris responded to criticism by saying that he was “sad” that anyone might have taken “offense.” London’s future mayor assured a distracted public: “I despise and loathe racism.” Good enough. Apparently.

London Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown notes that, during this time Johnson “delivered apologies like pizzas to the various groups he gratuitously offended.”

The campaign of personal sniping and (by American standards) dexterous word play has yielded London a mayor who supported attacking both Iraq and the Kyoto treaty. He opposes Red Ken’s “congestion tax” on big cars in the capitol, and anti-discrimination laws. Instead he supposedly favors “good manners.”

Alibhai-Brown warned on April 21 that “Londoners would be mad to vote for Boris.” She bemoaned the looming election as a flawed exercise: It “shames democracy itself. We lurch between democratic duty and an enervating loss of will.”

US voters face an even more grotesquely trifling set of candidates in a similar context of party structures largely emptied of traditional purpose and meaning.  The leading Democratic presidential contender  dedicates himself to removing the political from politics. He pretends to oppose another  New Democrat who pretends to have opposed NAFTA, and premature death from lack of insurance.

Bad show.

Bollocks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

RICHARD RHAMES is a dirt-farmer in Biddeford, Maine (just north of the Kennebunkport town line). He can be reached at: rrhames@xpressamerica.net

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail