So – the party’s over. As Tony Blair left the stage – that shiny vision of new Britain’s new dawn is dead. I know, it’s a bit of a romantic,sort of through a looking-glass view of the Blair ascendancy – but that’s what it felt like when New Labour swept in to power and swept out the Nasty Party way back in ’97.
Of course – in the end – there was no new dawn and in fact, it was a rather old and destructive dawn where we entered an era of unparalleled spin. Trust in politics and politicians died. Ironic really – that Blair’s parting words were about the noble causes that politicians strive for and the respect he really, really had for the House of Commons! That respect was rather in short supply when he as PM had one of the lowest attendance, speaking or voting records in that very same House!
A great showman in the Commons Chamber – he played it to perfection to the end. ‘That is that. The End’ he said with a small hand gesture – and he was gone.
So now – there’s a cold wind blowing through the corridors of power as the dour Brown era is ushered in to the backdrop of terrorist attacks. Brown’s ‘change’ agenda – given his brooding, controlling, centralist track record – is questionable – just as are the sudden protestations about new Gordon, relaxed Gordon, decentralising Gordon, happy chappy Gordon all dressed up in talk of challenges – new challenges,challenging the challenges to bring new change so that change and challenges will change our challenging world.
However, events dear boy, events. In times of threat to our national safety, we want to believe that serious Gordon will see them off. We want to believe that serious Cabinet Government will replace informal and disorganised kitchen cabinet Government. We want to believe Gordon when he says he will come first to Parliament to make announcements. No longer will the media be the first to know and Parliament the last. We want to believe that the era of spin is no longer. We want to hear that we will fight to win the hearts and minds of all our communities so that there is no hiding place for anyone who wishes harm on our citizens. We want to believe Gordon when he says that he will not remove our civil liberties without great reason and caution – and not just to catch the next set of headlines in the next news cycle.
He is right to want to ‘change’ the atmosphere of governance. He isright to promise a new kind of politics. He is right to set himself up as an opposite to TB.And yet, and yet … he was there at the heart of New Labour all the time. Let us not forget that this is the same Brown who agreed with going to war in Iraq illegally and signed every cheque; wasted millions on consultants for PPP for the tube, wants to spend billions tagging innocent people with ID cards that won’t catch terrorists rather than using the money to put more police on our streets and more resource into intelligence and security and closed hospitals and health services.
Leopard and spots are the words that come to mind. Only time will truly tell.