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Friday, October 27, 2006 

The silent nightmare.

Bob Piper had a nightmare, and it's a terrifying one. He dreamed that the Tories were denouncing the PFI schemes that they introduced, which have been accelerated and used throughout the public sector since 1997. His brain created the illusion that a Thatcherite had gone on the Today programme to denounce the government's caving-in to the religious schools lobby after just over a week, with the Catholic church being at the forefront of the campaign to stop their schools having to admit 25% of their intake from either a different religion or of no religion.

Piper's nightmare isn't just a bad dream for Labour supporters, it's also deeply angering a lot of the Tory grassroots. The political spectrum has become so distorted over the last year with Cameron's attempts to move his party towards the centre, that Labour has moved into the void left by his party's vacation. Peter Oborne, although something of a partisan figure, identifies how the debate on the veil and on Islam in general has been used by Labour to push themselves even further towards the centre-right. A certain amount of their thinking behind doing this is to try to outrank the BNP in their intolerance towards Muslim communities, as they've come to the conclusion that they've lost their support due to the Iraq war for a generation. Cameron's failure to use immigration in the same way as Michael Howard did has also left a hole for Labour to move into, with their Sun-pleasing remarks about how "political correctness" should be no bar to debate.

This move towards the centre-right is even infecting some of Labour's otherwise reasonably sane members of parliament. John Denham, who resigned over the Iraq war, has floated the idea that the unemployed should be given tougher sentences when found guilty of any crime, as well as making those on community punishments wear easily identifiable clothing, something which the Blairite robot Hazel Blears had previously brought up. Patricia Hewitt's laughable wheeze about taxing "alcopops", which are usually only drank in clubs and pubs where it's more difficult to get served in the first place, misses the point that the vast majority of youths who hang around in parks drinking are usually quaffing the likes of cheap, strong cider and beer than the expensive sugary, brightly-coloured vodka mixes. It also completely ignores the actual reasons behind the British binge-drinking culture - the fact that we are a greatly unhappy nation which uses alcohol to escape from the bleakness of work isn't something that the government can either do anything about or want to talk about.

We're constantly reminded by the likes of Polly Toynbee and the more hand-wringing Labour members that the redistribution of wealth has been Labour's greatest silent success, something never mentioned for fear that it may anger the middle classes taxes which pay for it. The reality is that it just isn't good enough when Labour goes all out time and again to seemingly annoy its core support. While they were winning, with two huge landslides, this worked for a while. Now, with Iraq the "elephant" in the room, Blair's agenda on crime, education and the health service just rankles. When once we would have forgiven Blair and his ministers' complete seeming indifference to mainstream opinion, instead riding the Murdoch tiger for all its worth, now it simply makes us seethe. Instead of realising that things can't go on like this, John Reid and others seem even more determined to seek the Sun's approval.

At least in America politics hasn't turned upside down - yet. Dick Cheney's comments that a "dunk in the water" is a no-brainer, even though he and America would never ever even consider authorising torture, was a shameless playing to the right-wing gallery. The nastiness of the campaigning going on for the mid-terms, with Rush Limbaugh alleging that Michael J. Fox was "acting" in an advert calling for support for a politician who supports stem cell research, seems to know no bounds. We haven't quite reached those levels in Britain, for now at least.

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