From London daily The Morning Star:
The curse of Blair
(Friday 04 May 2007)
TONY Blair insists that Labour’s electoral performance provides a “good spring-board” to win the next general election.
He suggests that this is because governments always “take a hit mid-term,” but he ignores the fact that Labour’s share of the poll has been declining ever since the historic victory in 1997.
Labour Party membership has plummeted, with more than half the members who welcomed the 1997 triumph having walked away from it.
If Labour had risen to 27 per cent from, say, 20 per cent, it might have been possible to see this level of support as a good springboard, but its backing has moved in the opposite direction.
The Prime Minister claims that “people thought it was going to be a rout and it’s not turned out like that,” which is clutching at straws.
Labour was already at a low ebb in English local government, but it has still managed to lose another 300 seats.
Welsh Labour is likely to be forced back into the arms of the Liberal Democrats, from which it escaped last time round.
Its progressive and popular policies on free prescriptions and rejection of city academies and foundation hospitals were insufficient to overcome altogether the new Labour kiss of death.
And Scottish Labour, which tails slavishly behind new Labour’s Made in Westminster policies, has seen its reward in the resurgence of the Scottish National Party.
It could not even win political capital from the SNP decision to accept a £500,000 gift from anti-union transport privateer and gay-basher Brian Souter, given new Labour’s addiction to its financial drip feed from big business and the consequent cash-for-honours scandal.
More worryingly, in a number of areas where major factories or coal mines once provided employment and where communities feel abandoned and neglected, the lying rhetoric of the BNP fascists has received a hearing.
Although there has been no spectacular electoral take-off for the BNP, it has taken many more votes and even saved its deposit in the north Wales regional list election with a campaign that concentrated entirely on false claims about Polish workers and other ethnic minorities.
New Labour and right-wing tabloids bear joint blame for making the political bullets for the BNP to fire, with their victimisation and scapegoating of asylum-seekers and “illegal” immigrants.
Gordon Brown is at the heart of new Labour and will not be substantially different from Mr Blair if he takes over from him.
That’s why an election contest for the Labour leadership is so essential – not only to provide a real personality choice but also to enable a full debate to take place in the labour movement and to build a political alternative to the curse of Blair.
See also here.