Saturday 8 September 2018


A decade or so after the Iraq War, many or most of the people who had nevertheless sworn to themselves that they would die in the Labour Party had done so. It was so reduced that Chris Leslie could become Shadow Chancellor. But then, of course, along came Jeremy Corbyn.

Why did someone like Chuka Umunna, to whom working-class people are "trash" and Labour Party members are "dogs", ever join the Labour Party? In what sense do Tony Blair and his flame-keepers define themselves as "Centre Left"? What do they mean by it?

They mean only that they were too cool for the Tory set at university. And yes, it is rather difficult to imagine them in tweed jackets. But some of the most left-wing people I know wear tweed jackets. I may even buy one in solidarity.

At this moment, the Shinies, and a few tagalongs such as Leslie, are planning their second vehicle for economic and foreign policies that were confined to the outermost fringes of the Loony Right until Blair was safely installed as Labour Leader, at which point they were magically declared to be "the centre ground".

For example, the creation of the National Health Service was in all three manifestos in 1945, meaning that it would have happened regardless of who had won. Margaret Thatcher barely touched the NHS. But then, in 1997, along came Blair, the erstwhile Trotskyist bookseller Alan Milburn, and the sometime Communist Party parliamentary candidate Paul Corrigan; when people like that move right, then they really move right.

Thus began 18 years, until the emergence of Corbyn, of NHS privatisation as the supposedly commensensical policy of all three parties. Although course it would call it something else, this new party would have NHS privatisation as one of its centrepieces. So to speak.

The real threat here would not be to Labour, whose present supporters would never dream of voting for such a thing when there was a viable alternative available. Nor would it be to the Liberal Democrats, whose remaining supporters are clearly very loyal indeed to their party.

Rather, and if only to a limited extent, it would be to the Conservative Party. There will always be a market, albeit a niche one, for "like the Tories, but without the Tories".

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