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Friday, September 01, 2006 

The evil of the unborn foetus, and other stories.

Tony Blair returns from holiday. He finds that a good number of his party is up in arms, partly because of the almost unforgivable government stance on Lebanon, party because of the appalling polls, brought on by the realisation that our foreign policy has only increased the threat to the nation, and partly because everyone except him and his closest acolytes realise that his time is up.

What would you do in the circumstances? Try and reassure those who are calling for your head that things are going to be different? Admit that he needs to go sooner rather than later? Realise that his continuing capitulation to the worst media interests and American foreign policy is only undermining what his party is meant to set out to achieve? If you were not clearly delusional, then perhaps that's where you'd start. For the Dear Leader, however, he's just carried on where he left off. Why else would he give his first interview to the Times (Prop. R Murdoch) and announce his Minority Report style intentions to target "anti-social children" before they're even born, appeasing the Sun (Prop. R Murdoch) and their WAR on young savages?

Apart from seeking to dampen talk about his departure date, Mr Blair’s main theme was the need for Labour to renew itself, to demonstrate “we are not paralysed or run out of steam. The Government is pursuing a programme of NHS reform which is revolutionary; we have trust schools and city academies which we have to get a critical mass on; we have pensions and energy policy which we have now secured policy for and now have consequent legislation.”

Revolutionary in its spectacular ability to disillusion the entire NHS staff while continuing the permanent reform revolution which successive health secretaries have imposed from above. Why else would those in charge like John Ashton be leaving their jobs and speaking out? Blair also talks of trust schools, which no one apart from the prime minister and the Tories wanted, and academies which are performing little better than the schools they replaced, except with private-sector sponsorship and in some cases ran by religious extremists who demand that students carry bibles around with them on certain days. This truly is Blair's bold strategy for the recreation of Britain in the image of the Dickensian workhouse. The energy policy involves the building of new nuclear power plants, which won't happen without the industry being given huge subsidies, money that would be better spent investing in renewables. Still, we knew that this what would happen long before the review, as Blair told his favourite friends, the CBI, that "nuclear was back with a vengeance".

He drew a comparison with the failures of the American Democrats in the post-Clinton years since 2000. He believes that Labour must show that it is the party of change, otherwise the Conservatives will be given an opening.

The failure of the Democrats was that they fell in line behind the Republicans after 9/11, afraid to criticise anything for fear that they would be painted as unpatriotic. They had good reason to be, as they were anyway. While Britain debated the case for war, the Democrats rubber-stamped it with hardly a moment's thought, something which has come back to haunt them. The Democrats failure was that they failed to be bold enough, that they didn't speak out for the American who wondered where all the wars and tough talk were going to lead. The success of Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman showed that they have finally got it. For Blair to criticise the Democrats for doing this is pretty rich; his desire to stick with George Bush whatever the Republicans decide to do, support or attack is the exact same weakness that the Democrats suffered from. That they have recovered from this while Blair has not is typical of his hubris.

“I totally understand what people are worried about, particularly when our position on the Lebanon was parodied as saying that we really don’t care if Israel carries on doing whatever it wants and we’ve given them carte blanche. That’s not what we were saying at all. What we were saying, however, is that you could not talk about a meaningful ceasefire unless it was one that was agreed in the political framework.”

Was parodied? I suppose we must have imagined Margaret Beckett's refusal to go into whether Israel's response to Hizbullah's kidnapping and killing of soldiers was proportionate. We must have imagined her statement that even if you could get a ceasefire "even if you could get a ceasefire half an hour ago, you would probably be back in hostilities in a few days", proved entirely wrong by the subsequent ceasefire that Britain refused to call for, while almost the rest of Europe and the world did from the beginning. We must have imagined Tony Blair's spokesman saying "a ceasefire call would only make people feel good for a few hours and would have no impact." If that wasn't giving Israel carte blanche to do what it liked, then what was?

Mr Blair argued that large parts of the Western world, including in Britain, still do not appreciate the seriousness of the global terrorist threat. It is not just a matter of tough new laws, but, rather, of challenging the “unjustified” sense of grievance felt by many Muslims.

Yes, the completely unjustified sense of grievance that has led to the Muslim and Asian communities feeling almost under siege in the last few weeks, thanks to the government's over hyped and overblown warnings of the terror plot that seems increasingly likely to crumble once it actually gets to trial. As BlairWatch points out, their grievance about the Israeli dropping of cluster bombs across southern Lebanon, which occured almost entirely in the last 3 days of the bombing and which has so far killed at least 12 people would similarly be unjustified. No one denies that this country faces a threat from Islamic extremists, but this government has repeatedly lied about the true level of threat, exaggerated plots and plans which were nowhere near the scale they originally claimed and has in effect decided to almost govern by fear, attempting to show only they can protect us from the coming oblivion.

Blair's farcical attempts to declare war on anti-social foetuses is from the same political rulebook. He could have described his plans as helping the disadvantaged and downtrodden from the cradle to the grave, but instead he attempted to appeal to the Sun's criminalisation of youth as a whole. The target? The single mothers, the feckless, the work-shy, the same scapegoats which the Tories blamed and attacked for the decline of our society. Blair's ideas could have sold as part of the compassionate, caring and aspirational society which New Labour is meant to be creating, but instead it's part of the same old crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour. It seems if single parents are too proud to turn for the government for help, whether they want or need it or not, then they're going to go down in the government's black books. The whole scheme smacks of being ill-thought out, designed only to get the tabloids off the government's back for a couple of weeks.

Labour deserves better. The country deserves better. Blair has to go. He might have hoped that his Times interview would stop the speculation, but he may well have equally hoped that it would bring out those opposed to him so that he can cast them as the wreckers determined to drag Labour back. He might have succeeded with Tony Woodley's comments about being aware of the curse of Thatcher, but the emergence of some thoroughly unradical and non-left wing backbenchers calling for a timetable for his departure may well have the opposite effect. The more who call for him to go the better, leftists or not. His time is up.

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