No difference between New Labour and New Conservatives?

Alex Kane sees little redemption, political or moral for the current UK government, and is less than impressed with the Conservative opposition.By Alex Kane

As troubles swirl around and threaten to engulf the Prime Minister, I am reminded of Enoch Powell’s dictum: “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.” And the brutal reality for Tony Blair is that he is now a washed-up Prime Minister. His authority within the Commons and within his own party has withered. The fact that he cannot now serve out a third full term of office has reduced him to the status of a verbose albatross. His political judgement, along with his moral judgement, has vanished. The occupant of Number 10 is now the mere ghost of a politician.

His inability, or his unwillingness, to dump John Prescott, an incompetent, adulterous buffoon, is a clear sign that the Prime Minister no longer knows the difference between political ineptitude and plain old fashioned immorality. Most of the people booted from the Cabinet in the reshuffle deserved to go. They were no good at their jobs. That is the nature of government office, for not everyone appointed to a top position in politics is capable of handling the pressure, the responsibility or the flak. So be it.

But in Prescott’s case it wasn’t just about incompetence, monumental though the evidence was to indicate it. All of the information now in the public domain, none of which Prescott has denied, is that he is an adulterer, a sexual predator, an office bully and a thoroughly disorganised and uninformed departmental minister. This, it also needs to be remembered, is the same man who led the charge against the sleazy, slimeball, trouser-dropping, brown-envelope-collecting members of the Conservative Party in the mid-1990s. And this is Tony’s mate, the same Tony who swept to power in 1997 with a promise to end the political incompetence and personal immorality which was drowning John Major’s administration and swamping public opinion in general.

Holding on to Prescott is a quite clear and staggeringly blatant abuse of Prime Ministerial power. In allowing him to keep the title of Deputy Prime Minister, the £133,000 salary, the grace and favour accommodations and the chauffeur driven cars, it also comes close to political corruption. But hey, since this is a Prime Minister who seems happy to swap peerages for donations to his party, I doubt if he will lose any sleep over using tax-payers cash to keep Prescott’s snout deep in the trough. Still, at the very least, Mr. Blair could ask the congenitally sanctimonious Peter Hain to lay off the lectures about MLAs being paid to do nothing!

But the most depressing aspect of the crumbling and meltdown of Tony Blair is the fact that his two most likely successors are simply appalling. Gordon Brown has been grazing at Number 11 Downing Street for almost a decade, bleating in the background like a malign sheep. But he doesn’t have the personal or political bottle to seize the crown and seems content to inherit and wear whatever rusty trinket Blair tosses over the garden fence when the furniture van trundles him out of office in a few months time.

David Cameron, on the other hand, is an ideologically vacuous hoover, spending his time sweeping up anything and everything which can allow him to present himself, and what was once the Conservative Party, as the I-can-be-anything-you-want-me-to-be alternative to Labour. If Mrs. Thatcher’s party political legacy was the destruction of a socialist, nationalising Labour Party, then Tony Blair’s may well be the destruction of her once beloved and triumphant Conservative Party.

Let’s face it, with this imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery approach to inter-party politicking, it’s no wonder that the electorate is staying at home. There is no difference between New Labour and New Conservative. Radicalism has been replaced with wretched opportunism and false consensus; and both parties now want complete state funding and compulsory voting. Could there be any greater admission of their selfishness, stupidity, arrogance and venality?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty