Saturday, June 30, 2007

The ABC Of Brown's Government

The full list of Government members appears here.

What are its key characteristics? I take the headings from Alec Glasgow's "The Socialist ABC".

"A is for Alienation"

As a start towards what Gordon calls a "Government of all the talents" , he has given prominent positions to five members from outside Labour's ranks who are given Peerages to enable them to have a "legitimate" parliamentary presence. When you add to this the fact that at least two Lib-Dem Peers have been given the role of advisers, then we are starting out on the road towards building a National Government. This is added to by the fact that we are still looking for further defections from Tory MPs.

"B is for the Boss"

Big Business (but certainly not the Trade Unions) are given seats at the table, with the establishment of a Department of "Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform". In order that we can have no doubt as to what this is about, Sir Digby Jones the former boss of the Confederation of British Industry has been made second in command. Furthermore, he has also been given an overseas economic role at the Foreign Office. On top of all this a Business Council for Britain has been established which includes Sir Richard Branson and other top bosses. The Prime Minister and Ministers with economic responsibilities will attend its deliberations. If Thatcher had gone as far as this we would all have screamed blue murder.

"C is for Capitalism"

There are also several new faces at Junior Ministerial level, plus those who have been re-cyled such as John Denham into a Cabinet position. Yet the bulk of appointments are re-appointments, who have mainly be shifted into fresh positions. This gives huge advantages to Gordon.

First; as nearly everyone has to knuckle down to new tasks they are unlikely to be able to give much thought to Gordon's overall plan. By they get round to being in a position to think things out, it will be too late and they will be sucked in.

Secondly; The Labour members with appointments are mainly Blairites and Brownites. There will be little trouble from the former, especially when they see that Gordon's set-up is an even more dynamic form of "New Labour" than anything Tony ever got around to. We are now into Capitalism with a big "C".

"X,Y and Z, me dear daddy said, will be written on the street barricades"

X. There is only one possible hitch which I can see for Gordon's project. Some of the Brown camp who criticised Blair may have assumed that Gordon was (at least) a few degrees to the left of Tony. They now face reality. It is Gordon who is the political thinker and was the major architect of "New Labour". The first two moves of New Labour in 1997 were Gordon's. The establishment of the independence of the Bank of England and the announcement that we would stick with Tory spending limits for the first two years.

Will reality finally be seen by some of those close to Gordon, such as the former Bennite we used to call Red Dawn? And will they react? There are Trade Unions which should, at least, be alerting Labour MPs to the dangers of Gordon's project.

Y. The only good sign is that Jon Cruddas has had the wit to refuse what seems to have been the offer of a Regional Minister's post and Deputy Chairmanship of the Party - for the latter should, of course, be an elected post. Perhaps he and others linked in with Compass can at least press for the leftish shift which some Brownites had been dreaming about.

Z. The democratic socialists who remain in the Labour Party, need to appreciate just how bad things are. We can't just tuck behind John MacDonnell in campaigns which make us think that given one more bound, we will be free. Yet there is nothing we can feasibly build or associate ourselves with outside the Labour Party. Let us face it, we are in for a long and difficult haul. In a Deputy Leadership contest which gave us a final option between Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson, we saw the state the Party and the wider Movement are in.

As democratic socialism is so weak in the Labour Party, what should we do? We can't beat Gordon and company at the game of manipulating agendas and fixing votes. All we can do is what we should always do. Convert people to democratic socialist values. It is back to appreciating basic understandings of our values and having a commitment to "political education, political education, political education". Let us concentrate our efforts, where we should have our strengths.


susan press said...

MARGARET Beckett must be gutted - particularly as I reckon she had illusions in Brown (like a lot of us).You're right. It's all way beyond my worst imaginings. Welsh Labour is now so seriously different am contemplating moving......

Harry Barnes said...

I feel that Margaret's strengths were on social and economic matters, where her residual socialism gave her guidance. Gordon knows this, so if he kept her whilst shuffling the pack she was in danger of being in a job where she was moving in a different direction to him. She might also have refused a post when he was introducing businessmen. That would have given her a left platform on the back bench. So he decided just to dump her.

Duncan Hall said...

Completely agree with your analysis Harry. I wish we could have a cheerier conclusion, though. I agree we're in for a very long haul, but we are many and there has to be some room for optimism.

Tim said...

Any truth in the rumour of a forthcoming name change - in future it will just be the New Party?

Labour Party >= New Labour Party >= New Party


Harry Barnes said...

doctor dunc,
With Gamsci, I always have optimism of the will, but not of the intellect.

Of course, there is nothing new about the "New Party". It is the name Mosely gave his new Party when he broke away from Labour in 1931. He went on to form the British Union of Fascists in 1932. Perhaps this is what you had in mind. I wouldn't go that far.

Tim said...

I am afraid your knowledge of history hugely exceeds mine, so no I was not aware of that, rather chilling, reference.

Harry Barnes said...

From the blog you are linked with it seems you are from the Sheffield area. Moseley's New Party was launched at a Rally at Renishaw Hall. Some of the Left were sympathetic, but when he saw Mussolini in action the following January he flipped to fascism.

Tim said...

I live in Renishaw, in fact.