I am sure I have talked about this topic, or topics similar to it, before - so I am going to keep this one brief, and just say the stuff I've been thinking about recently. Warning. This will begin educationally and end rantily.
Tony Blair became the leader of the Labour Party in 1994 by virtue of dead man's boots. The internal leadership election pit him against such champions of the people as John Prescott and Margaret Beckett, and he - rather understandably - mopped the floor with them.
He stepped into the leadership of an opposition party staring down a 15-year streak of Tory governance. The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, had been Prime Minister for eleven straight years - she was followed by John Major. While my hatred of Thatcher's politics is a thing of legend, the hatchet job that was done to her was at least as worthy of scorn. Either way, between the two of them, the country had slid to the Right in a very definite way.
And so, cogs begin to turn. There was a way to gain power.
The attitude of the country was one of fiscal conservatism, a general distrust of Europe after Black Wednesday and discussion of the single currency, and a discontentedness with earnings in general. The glory days of the late Eighties were gone - the dream of everyone putting on shoulder pads and hairspray and earning an absolute killing in the City had become just that, a dream. (Of course, a lot of people were still making a killing. It just wasn't a very accessible club any more.)
This, of course, meant that the Left would feel disillusioned too - and why wouldn't they?
So rather than bringing Muhammad to the mountain, New Labour brought the mountain to Muhammad. They took the old-fashioned Labour party that an entire generation had only known as opposition and "sexed them up". They became new, trendy - and decidedly leaning toward the Centre on the outside...with the odd schizophrenic Right-wing leaning here and there.
Something to appeal to everyone. And sure enough, they took a searing amount of the vote in the 1997 General Election, absolutely crushing John Major. A significant amount of that is, probably, down to personality. John Major tried to do a good job, and was in my opinion one of the best Conservative PMs we have had in the past fifty years. Let's face it. He was boring - and Tony Blair played some guitar and stood around talking with Noel Gallagher.
They came into power, and leaned just a little more left than the Tories had...
...and then went back the other way...
...and honestly the parliamentary Labour party has never really recovered.
They've stopped being the Left. They are an opposition from just a little further Left than the Tories - but that isn't hard, I mean all you have to do is not fine homeless people for the audacity of not having a home. They're not Left-wingers. They've forgotten how to BE Left-wingers, because being Centrist Blairites has given them everything they've ever wanted: money. The villifaction of the Left and the poor and the needy worked out well for a party that had abandoned all three, albeit to a lesser extent than Thatcher and her mob of milk-thieves did.
Smash-cut to today, wherein Peter Mandelson - yes, that Peter Mandelson, the one who pushed through a bunch of anti-privacy laws after having dinner with the CEO of Geffen Records on his million-pound yacht - creeps forth from his fucking crypt to state, flatly, that he'll do everything in his power to bring down the current Labour leader, who has been elected twice so far and may need a third election just so this shower of middle-ground tossers actually shut up.
Now I understand why the Liberal Democrats made the deal with the devil that they did. They shook hands with the Conservatives and compromised against their natures, and it gave them that whiff of power - and for five years they held those seats, though not without attractive a significant amount of abuse (sometimes more than the Tories, which is a bit odd).
Labour just made the deal first. They made it back in 1997. They stuck the knife in their old principles. They didn't sign a deal with anyone or shake anyone's hands - they became the devils themselves. Three years after John Smith's death - the previous Labour leader before old Tony got in - they turned the party into something that would have made Smith spin in his grave. Can one imagine how Harold Wilson - who died two years before New Labour's victory - would have reacted to his party's heel turn?
Being in opposition is more than just making witty remarks about your opponent. It is more than just doing things the press will like you for. Being in opposition means OPPOSING. It means that in a time of enforced harmful austerity and deliberate malicious treatment of the British people, trying to emulate the people doing it - only perhaps with a little less cackling mwahaha - isn't effective. "They're all as bad as each other," some cry, and - you know what, at times, I look at significant proportions of the Labour party and I understand where that perspective comes from.
I don't believe Jeremy Corbyn has made 100% correct choices in his role. I am not sure his move regarding Brexit was the best one, though I am not so ignorant as to the parliamentary process as to believe it was as simple as it is held up to be.
But for fuck's sake, Mandelson hates him. That alone should be enough to make you want him in charge. The Murdoch press rips on him at every chance they get, as do the New BBC (same as New Labour, lean to the right for a greater market share). He is labelled as unelectable, in an ouroborean fashion, because he is labelled as unelectable. If you strip away people who say that or "I just don't really like him very much", then you are left with an actual, valid fucking leader of a Left-wing political party.
Even if you're afraid of the big scary S-word.
If I am really lucky, by the time the next election comes around, the Labour party will be the Labour party again. Not New Labour II - Labour. Harold Wilson's kind of Labour. Labour that recognises the wounds inflicted by the current administration and actually does something about it, rather than sparking massive internecine conflicts because the leader isn't your kind of Centrist.
We don't need a fucking Centrist.
We need an opposition party.