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Milibandism is New Labour Mark II

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s call for the prosecution of Tony Blair at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes comes as Labour plans to restore the former prime minister to a prominent position in the party.

Nobel-prize winner Tutu’s honourable decision to turn down an invitation to share a platform with the former Labour leader at a conference on leadership is well founded.
 
In 2010 a Dutch inquiry found that the US-UK invasion of Iraq, authorised by Blair and George W. Bush, had “no sound foundation in international law”. In Britain two top judges also ruled that without UN endorsement, the war was illegal.

But while the misery in Iraq continues unabated, those who promoted the 2003 invasion and occupation are doing very nicely thank you.

Blair currently owns at least six homes and is said to be worth £20 million. Meanwhile, Blair’s former spin doctor, Lord Peter Mandelson, is competing with the ex-PM in amassing a wide-ranging business empire worth millions.

Mandelson’s international business consultancy has assets of nearly £600,000, according to the Sunday Telegraph’s Mandrake. Mandelson advises companies via Global Counsel. He also co-runs a company called Willbury, which posted a profit of nearly £375,000. He and his partner have just purchased an £8m home.

The extent of Mandelson’s wealth is guarded with jealous secrecy. But due to a change in the House of Lords’ transparency rules, the advisor to autocrats around the world may come under pressure to declare his company interests.

One might think that the extraordinarily greedy behaviour of these men who knocked the Old Labour into what it is today might give pause to those who still cling to the party – and parliamentary politics – as the only possible alternative to the ConDem coalition.

Unfortunately this is far from the case. There is, for example, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who sees the future in a conservative form of Milibandism.  Toynbee has taken upon herself the role of advising Ed Miliband about how to suck up to the LibDems. At a debate about the future of New Labour, at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Toynbee declared that Labour should be “the party of conservatism”, of “preserving and restoring”.

Blogger and political commentator, Gerry Hassan, who believes in Scottish self-government, rightly pointed out that:

Four periods of Labour in office and nine popular mandates since 1945 and the Labour Party hasn’t challenged the power nexuses and networks of establishment Britain or touched the institutions of ‘the Conservative nation’, which give succour and support to privilege and status. Nor has it, with the exception of the Attlee administration, substantially reduced inequality in any of its periods of office.

But nonetheless he shares Toynbee’s hope that Miliband would distance himself from his New Labour heritage. This is, of course, to ignore the reality of what he said himself: Labour is part and parcel of the establishment itself.

Despite the forlorn dreams of those who cling to Labour as the only alternative to the ConDem coalition, there is no fundamental difference between Miliband’s economic and political strategy and that of his predecessors in New Labour.

For all Miliband and others’ hot air, New Labour was the real architect of the introduction of the market into the public sector. The only difference between the Labour and the Coalition is in the degree of austerity they endorse.

Feeding the illusion that the New Labour leopard can change its spots leaves the door wide open for Tory backwoodsmen and more sinister forces lurking in the wings. The serious danger to Cameron is not from Miliband but the Tory far right.

This prospect makes working for a more advanced form of democracy such as A World to Win’s strategy of people’s assemblies an urgent political task. It is certainly more progressive than waiting three years for a chance to vote for Miliband’s New Labour Mark II.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
3 September 2012

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