« Home | Scum and Scumday Times-watch: Invasions, thugs, an... » | Doing the goose-step to Swan Lake, and other stori... » | Scum-watch: Saddammed. » | Give him the respect he deserves? » | Joined-up government in two short bursts. » | The 30 best albums of 2006. » | The worst music of 2006. » | War ain't over. » | Who will rid of us this meddlesome commissioner? » | Scum and Express-watch: Veiled abuse. » 

Thursday, January 04, 2007 

From elephants in the room to the rutting of New Labour.

In one sense, you have to admire the chutzpah of Gordon Brown, his admirers and advisers in briefing the Grauniad that they believe British foreign policy has got itself into a "rut" due to the continuing occupation of Iraq. They're continuing in the fashion of Blair's own spin doctors, the one who wrote the highly humourous memo that was leaked to the Mirror about the plans for Blair's departure from office, where Iraq was merely referred to as "the elephant in the room". This is an elephant that has rampaging for 16 years, killing hundreds of thousands, either through sanctions, bombs or sheer criminal incompetence. After a brief lull in the violence during Eid, the bombings appear to have started up again, another 13 dying in an attack on a petrol station. Every morning dozens of bodies are found dumped in Baghdad's streets, having discovered themselves stuck in the same rut which is so vexing Brown's supporters.

Even more galling is that the admirers further briefed that once Brown ascends to the throne, he's no more going to "cut 'n' run" than Tony. How could he? He'd never hear the end of it from the Scum, for the start. For all their support of the troops there, they'd rather that they continue to return home in body bags than for us either to drastically draw down forces, finish training the Iraqis, and then get out completely. No, Murdoch's war for oil must continue until it reaches its $20 a barrel conclusion.

It's OK though, as Brown's been brainstorming some apparent ways to either distract us from the slaughter, or at the least, perhaps level out the deaths with initiatives that those on the left will find impossible to oppose. Who could reject the idea of spending 2 pence a day on educating the children of Africa? Better still, this scheme can be done without spending yet more of the Treasury's coffers - those in the "richest nations" will all apparently contribute - even though how this will work in practice predictably isn't fleshed out. Also mentioned by Brown's briefers, but not in Brown's actual article, is that he apparently plans to get tough on climate change, making clear that he considers it a "foreign" rather than "domestic" issue. One has to wonder, judging by the less than tough changes in policy in the pre-budget report whether this will in fact be Brown attempting to pass the buck: if other countries are still refusing to act, why should we may well be his argument if his powers of persuasion fail him.

The chancellor's strategy, should he succeed Mr Blair later this year, will be to dilute the influence of Iraq by moving other issues up the policy agenda.

Only once last year did something other than Iraq top the foreign policy agenda, and that was when Israel set about destroying southern Lebanon from the air, while ministers declined to call for an immediate ceasefire and dismissed the idea of recalling parliament to discuss the hostilities. In reality, the idea is utterly farcical. Iraq has dominated the political debate for the last 4 years, and until the troops come home will continue to do so, however much this government attempts to stifle parliamentary scrutiny of its myriad failures. However much Blair wants to push Israel-Palestine to the top of the agenda, glad-handing as many politicians he considers to be moderate as he can while thumbing his nose at the extremists on his trips to the Middle East, his legacy has already been written. The only way Brown can escape a similar one is to abandon the shoulder-to-shoulder approach with the neo-conservatives which has done so much damage, both to the wider Middle East and our reputation. He instead seems ready to carry on regardless.

There may however have been a more immediate political motive for why Brown's article and briefers were out in force yesterday: John "Dr Demento" Reid picked today to make the first of what is an apparent series of speeches, and would you believe it, he's defended his saviour Blair's legacy to the core. With the Dear Leader earlier in the week pleading for "New Labour" values to stay, which is so ripe for parody after 9 years in office that to do so would be overdoing the point, Reid has just reinforced the message in his predictable shutting down any dissent fashion. The unfathomable thing is that these ministers can't apparently see how being New Labour to the core has demoralised the party and its supporters, wiped out half its membership and brought it to the edge of financial ruin, beholden to the corporate donors it mortgaged itself for in exchange for peerages. The only reason things aren't worse is because Cameron's a Blair clone with no policies to speak of.

Whether Reid will actually stand for the party leadership once Blair departs is still unclear. Dividing the party on New Labour/Brownite lines would only deepen the infighting, something which is in the interests of no one. What is apparent is that Brown intends, rightly, to purge the most egregious New Labour ministers and replace them with ones more in his own image. How Reid and others react to such a potential bloodbath may decide whether there is a proper leadership challenge or not.

You can expect that the various majority of policies though will continue as normal. Brown's love of PFI certainly isn't going to go away, he couldn't even resist getting a mention in of extremism and potential terrorism in the article on Africa today, and we all know he personally supports the extension of detention without trial for "terrorist suspects" to 90 days, even though such a deprivation of liberty isn't supported by evidence. Health reforms will continue, the attacks on civil liberties go on unabated; all New Labour values which are stuck in much the same rut as Iraq, but which won't be glossed over through distraction.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

Links to this post

Create a Link