Thursday, 14 May 2015
None so Blind
Can’t see for looking? Can’t see the wood for the trees? Yesterday brought yet another flurry – or is it a rash? – of Labour apologists suddenly discovering what they struggled to see for five long years. But I’m not so ready to forgive their casual myopia; there’s none so blind as those who will not see. For all those years (and many before, while still in office) the Labour Party steadfastly refused to acknowledge what their own voters tried desperately to tell them. The very people who brought Labour into existence felt abandoned as their lives degenerated and every time they tried to raise their concerns the party cocked a deaf ’un and pretended all was well.
But their supporters are a stubborn bunch and clung onto their belief even as the existence of the godhead was being shown to be just smoke and mirrors. The conjuror revealed the cards up his sleeves, the stooge in the audience and the dove in his pocket and still the faithful willed it to be real magic. And then the little boy in the crowd pointed at the Emperor’s naked bollocks and, as if he had counted to three and snapped his fingers, they all woke up. Stunned, they realised they had been led up the garden path; tricked, betrayed and abandoned and all for an ology looking for an idea. The dream was over and the ballot proved it.
Yes there are still some too stupid to fully understand and yes there are those still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but only now, their credibility in tatters and their enemies triumphant; only now do the party leaders even begin to admit what we all knew for years. Not only wasn’t Labour working, it wasn’t listening either. The voters are innocent; all they did was try and try and try to get through. But the party apparatchiks deserve every last bit of humiliation that can be heaped upon them. Shame on you all; this wasn’t incompetence, it was wilful ignorance.
For a century labour didn’t need to listen – they knew what their people wanted because they were their people. And even now they are not apologising because they are sorry for anything, they are doing it because they think it’s what we want to hear. Tony Blair took a leaf out of Margaret’s book and led his party to the right and into the light, but he still allowed himself to imagine the party knew best what people wanted. Things can only get better, they sang, and then assembled focus groups to find out what things people should be told would get better. The New Labour babysitters had little in the way of a vision, but they sure knew how to bribe the kids into keeping quiet.
Smoke. And mirrors. And now, as the latest line-up of bright-eyed hopefuls takes to the stage, they wonder what they can do to repair the rift. Surely not ‘The Third Way’ again? It is telling when agitators like Owen Jones urge them to take up the mantra the Conservatives have chanted for years. “Don’t let the Tories steal aspiration – we on the left must claim it” he squeaks in his latest piece for the gutless Guardian. Is he turning away from ultra-socialism and embracing Maggie’s way? Is he bollocks; in true Marxist fashion he really wants Labour to continue turning left, but just appear to occupy Tory territory and alter the meaning of the word.
Thankfully, the true party of aspiration – you’d have to go a long way to beat the vision of a home-owning democracy – has five years to steady the ship and prove to the country that a hand up is far better than a hand out. Things can only get better? They can now.