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Friday, June 16, 2006 

Guess the quote.


"Look at Blair and Reid and how they almost take pride in the rigid populism of their political thought. There is a new and profoundly unpleasant Blair agenda abroad - the Labour party is now increasingly given over to the worst of petty bourgeois sentiments, the thought that there is something clever in cynicism; realistic in selfishness; and the granting of legitimacy to the barbaric idea of the survival of the fittest."

Who do you think? George Galloway? Tony Benn? Some other far-lefty? Well, it's a trick question, as the above is adapted slightly from a real quote. It's taken from a letter sent to Michael Foot in 1982, with Thatcher and Tebbit changed to Blair and Reid, Tory changed to Blair, and then in the following sentence Tory to Labour. The writer of that letter? One Tony Blair.

Elsewhere in the letter, Blair admits to reading Marx, which is something he might not today, especially in the company of his new found friend Silvio Berlusconi, who often accuses judges of being left-wing stooges and communists in disguise, or indeed Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, who had involvement in the Reagan administration which called the Soviet Union the "evil empire". He castigates Thatcher for visiting economic madness on the country, something he has been happy to further entrench rather than slow. He states that the right wing of the Labour party is politically bankrupt, which certainly hasn't changed since his day. The difference is he's now a part of it. He also admits to being happiest addressing people who don't necessarily agree, but are willing to listen, which pretty much sums up his relationship with the majority of the Labour party. Most of it just hasn't fallen into "introspection", which he accuses the left of doing. Power and being pragmatic, something which he said tainted the right wing, has resulted in the current malaise which the Labour party is in.

Some things don't change though. Blair at the time recognised "in nuclear war we face a greater threat than any of our ancestors". Now he recognises it by sacking Jack Straw who described war with Iran as "inconceivable", and the plan by the US to attack it with nuclear weapons, reported by Seymour Hersh, as "nuts". He also notes that profound problems require profound remedies. Sadly that now means "choice", more privatisation, more reform and a rebalancing of the criminal justice system in favour of the victim, accompanied with a populism and relying on tabloid headlines that would make an 80s Tory blush. As Rudge said, history is just one fucking thing after another. Even back in 82, Blair was already New Labour.

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