Friday, 8 October 2010

The taste of Labour

(Sighs...) I suppose now that the New Generation (TM) has truly got its feet under the desk, a tired hack like me needs to get a life, move on etc, from the dismal events of a fortnight ago. It's hard, though, to spit out the rancid taste of that spectacle, those grim cheerleaders for 'change', that result that could have been cooked up by some demoniac scientist in a laboratory, his intention to make everything about Labour look backward and third-rate and full of spleen... As someone who only came round to Blairism about 10 years too late I can't be regarded as a genuine tribalist or a reliable guide to 'the soul of Labour' (an expression you'd expect to see in any Gordon Brown peroration, and one I'd like to club to death with a baseball bat). Still, hard to bear, son...
My fellow college/student-paper alumnus Peter Hyman wrote in the Times the other day that "only victory at the next election will justify Ed Miliband's leadership bid." Even I - finding 'Death Ray Panda' hard to look at/listen to, and agreeing vehemently with Hyman's withering assessment on Newsnight last week - would say that's setting the bar too high. A Labour leadership candidate can't promise that sort of sway over the wider electorate, he can only hope to impress his congregation, work the ridiculous electoral college system, and so jump the hurdle in front of him - which for DRP was defeating his brother. And, you have to say, no prospective Labour leader can hope to ascend without having reached at least a hand-shake settlement with the trade union leadership, even though that settlement will, of course, be broken by said leader over time; and the failure of David Miliband and his footsoldiers even to get to the foot of the hill in this respect will always count as a serious demerit. For want of a nail...
A great political party doesn't die overnight, though the annals show it can slip into suspended animation or, if you like, aggravated nostalgia. For instance, my pre-Labour-leader-result prediction about the impending return of Neil Kinnock, the consummate Labour career-pol and parader of principles he would later junk in the hope of favour - proved grotesquely accurate, and gave David Cameron an easy joke for his Conference speech. As for the shadow cabinet, I would never seek to patronise Alan Johnson, but really, and nervously, I have to wish him the very best of luck for his new posting. In the words of their last elected PM, I will still be wishing Labour well, wanting them to win, since they are the future now... But I'm still reaching for the full-strength mouth-wash, looking for something to like about the new dispensation.
(Cartoon above by Steve Bell, of course.)

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