9 October 2010

Mandy's mea culpa

I had promised myself never to write about Mandelson, in the hope that he would fade away like the memory of a bad dream. But now he has done such a "clever" nostra culpa in the Guardian that I can't resist.
"Yes, we failed New Labour" reads the article headline. "We let down younger people. We thought that relying on Tony Blair's charisma was enough".
I know headlines are usually written by witless subs, but the reification of "New Labour" does, I believe, identify what was wrong with it from the start. It posed as an ideology, but was not. It posed as a programme of government, but was not. It posed as a movement for institutional renewal, but was not.
It was a never more than a means to get elected. Stripped of Blair's charisma, it revealed its true colours in a frantic attempt to buy the 2010 general election - which came closer to succeeding than most wish to admit.
But above all - and this is where Mandy's article is so revealing - it was entirely autoproctological, forever seeking enlightenment up its own arse. Apart from a fleeting reference to "squeezed middle Britain", the lessons Mandy claims to have learned are all about the Labour party. Still, full marks to the old queen for the following:
Which brings me to my last point: the failure, within the party, of New Labour to organise, mobilise and renew. We used fear of being accused of factionalism as the excuse. But the real reason is that we enjoyed government too much, from the prime minister down. The Labour Party of 2010 is thankfully a completely different animal to that which only narrowly elected Denis Healey to the deputy leadership over Tony Benn in 1981. But in government New Labour was nevertheless too lazy in putting energy into keeping alive reform and renewal in the party.

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