Andrew Rawnsley gives us this piece about the apparent death of New Labour – in fact he goes on to tell us not that it is dead – but buried, too. It’s death secured in a 50p tax rate on the rich and the super-rich, how that is the demise of the party that isn’t a socialist party, isn’t a left-wing party and certainly doesn’t look to help the poor – or society in general.
If, like me, you were as cynical you would see the Guardian piece for what it is – a piece made of a wish rather than truth.
Andrew Rawnsley may want New Labour to be dead – many others do, too – and in growing numbers. But the death of New Labour is presumptuous. It is not dead – far from it.
There are far too many people who agree with the 50p rate – so much so that Dave Cameron, and the front benches of the New Tories will not say, dare not say, that they will give up that rate and return it to something much lower. And add to that, that their financiers are not howling too loud about it either. This isn’t because they agree with it – the fact is that they believe they should be taxed even less than the workers or working-class. They are, after all, the wealth creators.
You will see, if the New Tories are voted into power, tax rates that show their true allegiance and like New Labour before them you will see that the rhetoric is such that they say they cannot give you any answers now, as they are not in government, so cannot make that pledge – to do so would be silly as they have not seen the accounts. You can guarantee that it will happen though, and the people will, within six months realise what a bad choice they had made, again.
Yet, as I say, New Labour is not dead – they are alive and well and scheming as much now as before. From now until the general election Dave Cameron will have to keep the lid on what the Tories will do in power as much as Campbell and Mandleson did before. If one aspect of their future plans are laid out, set free out of the bag – then that could mean New Labour has a real run for power again – and that is what they are waiting for. Can the Tory leadership keep Boris’ mouth shut? I doubt it – but we will have to wait and see. And there isn’t just him – you have others just outside the line of sight waiting to plunge into the argument that New Labour is finished and “…this is what we will do once we are in power!” A headline that will be splashed across the papers and the web faster than the speed of light.
And New Labour will exploit it.
Saying New Labour is dead and buried isn’t just a foolish thing to say – it is downright dangerous. New Labour is a wounded animal – and we all know how they react.
The most obviously symbolic respect in which the budget marked the final full stop on the New Labour era was the new top rate of tax on higher earners. For three elections in a row, they pledged not to do that in the belief that it was politically suicidal to hike any of the rates of income tax. They have slyly bent and sometimes flagrantly bust other promises over the years, but the pledge not to touch income tax was treated as inviolate – until now.
This is the point where I almost laughed a proper “LOL” – if Andrew and others feel this, they are deluding themselves. Whether you feel this is relevant or not – New Tories do, you are of the thinking that people are looking away from the globalisation of the crisis – whether you believe that the UK has a special relationship with the US – as most party’s do, in the political game being fought out at the moment – the global downturn and the fact that Bush and his cronies caused this crisis will be exploited by New Labour – ‘It wasn’t our fault! – Is was the Americans!’ And people will buy that because, in some part, it is true.
New Labour isn’t dead, Andrew – it is merely awaiting the right time to strike, and the iron will be very hot when it does.