Monday, April 20, 2009
New Labour - The Goodwill gauge is empty.
The Easter weekend has been extra-ordinarily bad for the Government in general, and the New Labour project in particular. For weeks the papers have been hammering away at MP's and cabinet members in particular for mean-spirited and in some cases very questionable expenses claims, culminating in the Mail openly accusing a serving British Home Secretary of being a thief and a liar and challenging her to sue them (she hasn't).
The bank holiday weekend then opened up with revelations that Gordon Brown has employed a man who spends his tax-paid time concocting made-up slurs against senior Tory MP's to anonymously spread them round the internet. This was bad, but the further revelations about the nature of the slurs enraged the press and led to an avalanche of further stories from senior Labour figures who said that they, too, had been the subject of attacks and innuendo from the same 'hit squad'.
A lot of my non-political friends wonder why this story has qualified for day-after-day coverage for two weeks, the reason is that it exposes the squalid core at the centre of the New Labour project for the first time. One of the main complaints about the New Labour project has always been that it relied too much on the dark arts of rubbishing enemies and not enough on having a decent plan to run the country. They have been rightly accused of being stuck in opposition mode ever since 1997 - relying on spin rather than substance.
Not only that but it has re-opened the old wounds between the Brown camp and the Blairites who always complained of dirty tricks against them when this lot were working for the Chancellor in his ten years at the Treasury.
And this morning the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson as good as called Ed Balls a liar for playing down his relationship with Damian McBride; it is obvious that people at Gordon Browns right hand were in this mess up to their necks - Labour would do well to remember with Watergate it was the denials and the cover-up that cost Nixon the White House, not the bugging of his rivals.
The reason this is all very important is that the public are scathing of politicians who they think are more worried about their own jobs and careers than with running the country properly. The Government have suffered a humiliating collapse in their poll support just weeks after the world's media were being told that Gordon Brown had saved the world.
Watching Labour deteriorate into an unseemly scrabble for the post-election job of leader of the opposition while Britain slowly becomes once again 'the sick man of Europe' is frustrating and depressing.
Sadly we have another year of this to go.