Losing Murdoch May Help Find Their Soul 16

I cringed throughout Gordon Brown’s speech yesterday. I retain, despite all, a soft spot for Gordon Brown. I know enough people who know him from Edinburgh, to be convinced that Brown basically means well. He is very wrong, but he means well. That is in sharp contrast to Blair, who is just a very talented charlatan devoid of any core belief other than his own self enrichment.

The Labour conference is attended by people whose standard of living depends upon their party having control of the state apparatus. Blair delivered on their personal craving for power and position, but self-evidently cared about none of the social justice issues which the party’s founders really did believe in, and which the conference members like to think they believe in, when they are maudlin drunk. So they followed Tony without loving him, and reserved warmer cheers for Gordon who they sensed was not actually a bad person.

Now, with no Blair to contrast with, Brown’s appeal of being well meaning but crap is less obvious. Watching him make a conference speech is like watching Eddie the Eagle plunge down a ski ramp – he is plucky but utterly unsuited. Indeed these are qualities which are fundamental to Grodon’s world view, as evidence by the execrable ghost written books he churns out, on themes like Courage and Britishness. It as though he is stuck in the Boy’s Own Paper. No wonder he believes he saved the world.

Yesterday’s speech was just excruciating to watch. The “Highlight” was a list of New Labour’s alleged achievements. He emphasised each by an extraordinary jerky hunch of the shoulders accompanied by a swivel of the head. It looked really weird – like a Gerry Anderson puppet, but without the warmth.

It was almost as weird as the previous day’s Mandelson performance. That was the most self-regarding speech I have ever heard, returning again and again to Mandelson himself as the reference point of success. His culminating point – “If I can come back, we can come back” deserves more analysis. What does it mean? “Because this government is so dodgy that a Minister twice sacked for corruption can come back a third time, then people will vote for us”?

Brown has promised us Magdalen homes for pregnant teens and an unspecified further crackdown on yobs. Here again Brown moved into superhero mode. “Whenever and wherever there is anti-social behaviour, we will be there to fight it.” That is plainly not true. It lacks any connection with reality. To seek to reduce anti-social behaviour is a good thing. Much more attention needs to be paid to the causes of the loss of family and community cohesion, and less to immediate recourse to the criminal legal system. But the idea that superheroes will descend “whenever and wherever” goes beyond the realm of legitimate rhetorical aspiration into the realm of delusion.

Brown’s empty rhetoric on banking bonuses could not conceal the fact that he intends to do nothing practical about them.

There is no real connection between yesterday’s speech and the announcement that the Sun will no longer support New Labour, other than being timed to endear Murdoch to the Tories.

New Labour should not be sorry to have lost Murdoch’s support. They should be deeply ashamed that they ever had it. At the last election, the Sun made plain that it was only endorsing New Labour because of Iraq and the “War on Terror” agenda.

Should New Labour ever recover electoral support, it will be after a period in opposition in which it must decide whether to try to outflank the Tories from the right and try to ally again with Murdoch, or try to remember something of what it was founded for.

How long will the “New Labour” brand be retained? It is associated with the liberalisation of banking regulaton and the disatrous collapse that followed, and with the horror of Bush foreign policy. If “New Labour” were a car, it would be eligible for Mandelson’s scrappage scheme.

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16 thoughts on “Losing Murdoch May Help Find Their Soul

  • Ed

    “No wonder he believes he saved the world.”

    I too have a soft spot for Brown – being Edinburgh alumni helps – and don’t see him in same light as Blair. But on this point about who “saved the world”, there are some very smart people who think Brown did with his global leadership from a year ago.

    Here’s Paul Krugman:


    “Luckily for the world economy, however, Gordon Brown and his officials are making sense. And they may have shown us the way through this crisis.”

    Gordon’s probably going to lose the next election, butb I think historians will be more generous to him than they will to Blair.

  • Grumpy Old Man

    Absolutely superb. Best written, most incisive critique of Brown and the state of Labour I’ve read today.

  • MJ

    For six months, perhaps even a year, I thought the New Labour government was pretty good. It did some laudable things in those first few months. Since then however it has rapidly degenerated into a putrid mess, helplessly – and increasingly transparently – wedded to big business and the neocon global agenda.

    But the next election is a crucial one. The party that wins will have two major tasks: cutting public services savagely and increasing taxation exorbitantly. For all its faults I am slowly and reluctantly coming to the view that the Labour Party will be marginally more humane than the Tories in how it goes about these tasks.

  • anticant

    I think self-advertisement looms even larger than self-enrichment in the Walter Mitty psychopathology of Tony Blair.

  • Roderick Russell

    You state “It is associated with the liberalization of banking regulation and the disastrous collapse that followed”. This is what the Bank of England, The Treasury and other regulatory bodies would like one to believe. Surely there is more to the banking collapse than that. Liberalization did not cause the banks to lend huge sums of money to creditors who did not have adequate security. It was atrociously bad banking practice, designed to achieve huge (though risky) short term profits and hence huge bonuses for bank executives. In reality it was bank fraud on a gigantic scale since the bankers took excessive risk to boost short term bonuses. The culprit was not the liberalization of banking regulation, but the fact that the regulatory authorities, such as The Bank of England, failed to issue the appropriate warnings. The ultimate long stop was The Bank of England and it is their incompetence that should be questioned. Only a decade or so after the war time debt was finally paid off, they have burdened the British taxpayer once again with huge debt loads. Roderick Russell

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I wouldn’t wipe my arse with The Sun in case it got my shit dirty.

    It’s sad that the Labour party leadership ever got into bed with Murdoch. I can’t help feeling they’re getting what they deserved now – sad that the Tories, who’re just as bad if not worse, may benefit as a result.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I wouldn’t wipe my arse with The Sun. It’s so full of shit it’s useless even as toilet paper.

    Sad that the Labour leadership got into bed with Murdoch. Can’t help feeling they deserve everything they get now Murdoch’s turning on them the way they turned on party members and Labour voters. Just a pity the Tories, who are even worse, may benefit from it.

  • dreoilin

    Glad I read this thread before bed. “I liked Eddie The Eagle!” and “I wouldn’t wipe my arse with The Sun in case it got my shit dirty”, are sending me to bed with a smile on my face.

    Oh, and I agree. I too feel that poor old Gordon means well. He’s like a big awkward Boy Scout — Blair is the smarmy used-car salesman.

  • Turkeybellyboy

    Some great points here: I would join together the fact that GB means well, and also the obvious fact that he is delusional.

    I think he’s genuine in getting worked up about things, but he seems to believe that the levers of power are actually connected to something!

    He’s getting frustrated (and blaming the ‘Media’) because people can’t seem to see what wonderful things he’s doing (sic).

    He doesn’t have the self awareness to see that the problem might actually lie with *him*.

    The sad fact is that he probably believes that if he spends billions on the Public Sector, things will get better. That, if he announces a policy, things will improve ‘on the front line’.

    Not sure if he knows what ‘unintended consequences’ mean, either. :'(

    It’s scary to have someone like this in charge of the whole Country when, instead of pulling a handbrake turn, they floor it.

    Last thing[!] – I can’t decide whether it is Peter M. or GB who better deserves the epithet ‘Ozymandias’ [tho suggested by others before me]…

  • mike cobley

    So the SUN ditches Nu Labour for its new boyfriend, Diddy David Cameron. Can’t say I’m surprised – Murdoch is probably salivating at the prospect of the Tories further eviscerating the BBC when (if) they get in.

    As for El Gordo – sorry, Craig, but I have absolutely no respect or regard for the man, zilch, zip, nada, none. Blair, Brown and the rest of the Labour government are all irredeemably guilty, stained by either agreeing with the attack on Iraq, or by just going along with it. There is nothing – NOTHING – which this government can do to expunge the vile, murderous inhumanity of that act. Yes, I know that a Tory government will probably turn out to be worse, but at least it’ll have the virtue of being an unapologetic adversary of progressive social democracy. We will have an unambiguously worthwhile target to aim at.

  • mary

    Like Mike above, I am appalled by Craig’s remarks about Brown. Just because he is a member of the Scottish mafia in the HoC does not make him alright. He is just as much a war criminal as Blair – he sat by writing the cheques for the Iraq slaughter and incineration of over 1 million souls. He continues ratcheting up the (illegal) war in Afghanistan and will end up with responsibility for just as many deaths as Bliar as the war campaign stretches endlessly into the future. The idiots at the conference have just been cheering Milepede who was banging the war drum.

    He was complicit in the creation of the housing bubble and the derivatives and traded on that by letting out the money and creating the debt which we and our grandchildren will be paying for decades ahead.

    Stevo on medialens has it in 12.

    1) No return to linking pensions to wages rather than inflation as they are now. Promises to restore this link never materialised.

    2) Undercutting NHS and other public services with PPP schemes.

    3) Removal of free university education with the introduction of tuition fees.

    4) A massive housing crisis.

    5) A big increase in child poverty.

    6) Ensuring British workers get amongst the lowest wages in Europe.

    7) Ensuring that British workers work amongst the longest hours in Europe.

    8) Maintaining the ‘postcode lottery’ that denies people life saving drugs on the basis of cost.

    9) A draconian crackdown on claiming disablement benefits.

    10) The maintaining of Thatcher’s curbs on union power.

    11) The ‘arms length’ approach to the stock market that led to this country being more affected by the credit crunch than most.

    12) Promising massive cuts in public services while renewing Trident, a £25 billion white elephant.

    Quite a proud record for a so-called Labour government, isn’t it?

    Keith-264 added a few more to the list.

    13. Endless wars of imperial plunder.

    14. Suspension of Habeas Corpus.

    15. Jury rigging.

    16. Torture.

    17. Concentration camps.

    18. Harriet Harman replacing Prescott as chief clown.

    19. Introduction of a Minister of Racism.

    Goodbye Craig until you come to your senses.

  • mike cobley

    I wouldn’t say that I was appalled Craig’s observations – which included such words as ‘cringed, ‘execrable’ and ‘excruciating’. I can understand where he’s coming from, as El Gordo does not give off the same odour of corrosive fake sincerity as Blair, and my reading of him is that yes, he may well be essentially a good man at the core. But that does not exculpate him from responsibility for his actions. Just wanted to clarify that.

  • MJ

    mary: everything you say is true. Do you therefore favour a Tory victory at the next election?

  • Stephen Green

    I’m sure Uncle Joe, Mao Zedong, Lenin and Trotsky meant well too. Their socialism gives them a warm glow as they are using others as expendables in their crafting of the perfect society.

    Give me a charlatan every time not those with a special glow in the eyes and the red flag flapping behind them as they stamp on your neck.

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