New Labour was a glossy image which Tony Blair smeared over Old Labour, in his attempt to make the party electable. Behind the scenes, members of the party who dared to suggest that the party was left of centre, were weeded out skilfully as the new leader shaped the party in his own image. After all, he wanted to be Prime Minister.
As any road engineer knows, surfacing is always temporary and it is only a question of time as to when the weeds push through. In neglecting domestic policy and pushing for a dubious war with Iraq, Tony Blair has pushed his party to the limits. The values of Old labour did not disappear when Tony Blair pretended that the party was really a centre-right formation as the endless ride along the road of monetarism was pursued with a Thatcherite vigour.
“Tory Blair” and “Phoney Tony” were phrases coined out of the frustration felt by the party faithful who believed that the Labour Party was founded on the principles of justice and caring for the average citizen. The push for war against Iraq, without any plausible reasons having been presented – on the contrary, ludicrous evidence photo-copied from a theses and pages lifted from magazines – is not a just cause and runs against the grain of the grass-roots labour supporters.
The result is an alarmingly low popularity rating for Tony Blair: 20%, the largest ever peace-time demonstration in London, 67% of his local party chairpersons threatening to resign and serious dissent from his own back-benchers. But still he presses on.
Tens of British citizens have already travelled to Iraq, to act as human shields to prevent bombing raids on civilian installations, given the poor records in such raids in the recent conflicts in Kosovo, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. In the minds of those who are against this war is the tragedy of Amiriya, a bunker sheltering 480 civilians which on February 13th, 1991, was turned into an inferno by an American bunker-buster bomb.
In the minds of those who are against this unjust war is the notion that Tony Blair is allowing himself to be used by the weapons, steel and energy lobby driving the Bush administration in their desperate quest to kick-start the economy so that Bush can be re-elected.
John ASHTEAD PPAVDA.Ru LONDON UNITED KINGDOM