Lib Dems Aim at Winning Blairites from Labour

Also in the I newspaper today, right opposite the report about the three pro-Corbyn councillors, who have been suspended from the local party in Bristol, was the news that the Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has made a bid to win over right-wing Labour voters in his speech at their party conference.

The article states

Tim Farron cast himself as the heir to Tony Blair yesterday as he delivered a direct appeal to disillusioned Labour voters to switch allegiance to the Liberal Democrats.

Only his party can prevent a 25-year-long Conservative “stranglehold over government”, he insisted in his keynote speech to the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton.

Mr Farron coupled praise for many of Tony Blair’s achievements in office with a stinging attack on Jeremy Corbyn for viewing winning general elections as a “bourgeois distraction”…

Targeting the centrist Labour supporters, the Lib Dem leader said he believed Mr Blair made many serious mistakes, but admired him for achievements such as investing in schools and hospitals and introducing the national minimum wage.

“I respect him for believing that the point of being in politics is to get stuff done, and you can only get stuff done if you win. Otherwise, you’re letting your opponent get stuff done instead, ” Mr Farron said.

Farron and his supporters are keen to promote the idea that the party is undergoing a revival after losing all but eight seats in the elections last year. The same article quotes him as saying that by next year, his party will be the only thing standing between another Tory election victory.

But Farron has already confirmed my negative opinion of his party, and my decision that I won’t vote for them. Tony Blair and his supporters aren’t centrists. By the standards of the 1980s, they’re actually extreme right-wing Tories. I don’t mean they’re extreme right in that they’re racist, misogynist or hate gays. They’re not. But they are extremely right-wing in that they took over Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policy of privatising everything she could, including parts of the NHS. Blair took this over and massively expanded it. Alan Milburn wanted to reduce the health service to a logo on services provided by the private sector. See NHS-SOS by Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis. As for investing in hospitals, this is a moot point that needs qualification. Blair did invest in hospitals under the PFI initiative, a policy set up by that prancing snob Peter Lilley deliberately to open up the NHS to private investment. Under the PFI, the hospitals built are smaller than those constructed using conventional financing methods, and are actually much more expensive. These costs are met by closing and amalgamating other hospitals. Farron might consider these as mistakes, but they are an integral part of the system. Blair was responsible for closing down local hospitals in order to create a part-privatised system that was more wasteful than the previous, wholly state-owned, state-funded NHS. But it got him plaudits from the Right as the true anointed heir of Thatcher, barrels of money given to him and his continuity group, Progress, from donors in the private medical industry.

Much the same could be said of his education policy. This essentially consisted of the Simpering Scrounger taking over Norman Baker’s policy of city colleges outside the Local Education Authorities, which even the Tories ditched as a useless dud. Just as he did with Anderson Consulting, who had also been ditched by the Tories, Blair picked them up and adopted the policy as his own. The only difference is that he tried to make the wretched scheme look better by calling them ‘city academies’ and then just ‘academies’. Like the PFI hospitals, they’re massively more expensive than ordinary schools. They can cost something like £24-35 million, far more than the funding given to LEAs for all the schools they have to run. And like the PFI hospitals, it’s another part-privatisation where the taxpayer effectively picks up the bill. They’re given over to the management of second-rate entrepreneurs, often with extreme dodgy ideas on what counts as proper education. Poor, and children with exceptional needs, like the less academic, or disruptive pupils, are not taken, or expelled at an alarming rate in order to keep the wealthy, intellectually able kids the schools needs to show they’re improving standards. But they don’t. They’re actually little better than state schools. Where they have improved standards, it’s simply due to the vastly larger funding they’ve been given. These would have also improved standards in state schools, if they had been so fortunate as been given them. See Francis Beckett’s The Great City Academy Fraud.

The only person, who’s shown a genuine commitment to restoring standards and the integrity of our schools and health service, after these have been decimated by nearly four decades of Tory and New Labour misrule, is Jeremy Corbyn. By aiming to win the Blairites over to his party, Farron has shown that he effectively supports all the policies Blair and the Tories have done ever since Maggie. The rise of mass starvation in our society, and the incalculable poverty, disease and despair that will result if the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS goes ahead, show that these are policies are country cannot afford. Like the Tories, the Lib Dems should not be given any power in forthcoming elections.

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5 Responses to “Lib Dems Aim at Winning Blairites from Labour”

  1. jeffrey davies Says:

    another honest joe hay parliamets full of em but then his party broke alot of its promises to keep hold of power trust em never again

  2. Blissex Says:

    «Tony Blair and his supporters aren’t centrists. By the standards of the 1980s, they’re actually extreme right-wing Tories.»

    That’s somewhat exaggerated, but not much. I have found from a commenter in “The Guardian” a link to an academic site that has a procedure to evaluate right/left scores and has done so for several decades of politics, and the summary that commenter gave and the links are:

    «Mid-1970’s Conservative policies were slightly to the left of 2015 Labour. Political Compass Website: Ted Heath Tories 1970s (+3) Labour 2015 (+4) A score of (+5) is perfectly centre-right. The Scottish Socialists 2015 are in (-7), Greens 2015 are on (-3), SNP 2015 on (-1), LibDems 2015 on (+5), UKIP 2015 on (+8) and the very right-wing Tories of 2015 on (+9).»

    «By aiming to win the Blairites over to his party, Farron has shown that he effectively supports all the policies Blair and the Tories have done ever since Maggie.»

    In that they are pretty consistent with the score they get above.

    But probably his invitation won’t be taken up: the essential advantage of Labour for mandelsonians like Tristram Hunt is that it has a large “bank” of (so far) safe seats in ex-mining areas where Labour voters will elect even a “New Liberal Conservative for Europe” as long as they carry the red rosette. Of course the Liberals have no such large “bank” of safe seats, so the mandelsonians infiltrated Labour and not the Liberals.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for this, Blissex. This is very interesting. And I think you’re right about many Labour supporters voting tribally, even though the candidate is a Mandelsonian. My guess is that some will vote for candidates like Tristram Hunt on the grounds that as they’re Labour, they have to be more left-wing than the Conservatives. I don’t think that view’s entirely correct. The complaint among many Tories when Blair was in power was that he was adopting policies that would have been too right-wing if they’d put them into practice. And I think there’s much justice in this. This doesn’t mean that the Tories are to the left of Labour, despite the very ostentatious posing of Cameron just before the 2010 election to make it seem they were. Rather, it seems that Cameron was always more right-wing than New Labour, and the parties seem to have begun competing to see who can be more Thatcherite. Or at least Blairite New Labour and the Tories have.

  3. Blissex Says:

    «many Labour supporters voting tribally, even though the candidate is a Mandelsonian. My guess is that some will vote for candidates like Tristram Hunt on the grounds that as they’re Labour, they have to be more left-wing than the Conservatives.»

    I think that «more left-wing» is not the point here. The voters in those constituencies, mostly ex-mining, have been brutalized politically and economically for a long time, and historically Labour has been their only support, so they just trust it to do what’s best. If the party parachutes a posh spiv in their midst, they assume that the party needs the posh spiv in parliament to advance their cause. It is just reflexive trust: the party knows best about what works down in London, and we trust them to do what’s right by us.

    Labour has always been a coalition of do-gooder liberals and working-class socialdemocrats and some socialists, both in the party and in the voting base. it used to be that both sides of the coalition got their interests protected by the party: the do-gooder liberals would get in power with the votes of the working-class and would in exchange work on more bargaining power for the working-class and better social insurance and access to education.

    What has changed is that New Labour are liberals (and some tories) who still use the votes of the working class to get to power, but then in exchange do very little for them, and enact policies that take care of the southern affluent middle class and the upper class.

    And that’s the main difference between the Liberal Party and New Labour: the Liberal party don’t have a large bedrock of reflexively voting constituencies that provide them with dozens (around 150 I guess) of safe seats.

    The problem with New Labour is that even those who vote Labour reflexively, because of a long history of trust, eventually realize that their trust is no longer justified, and start voting UKIP, or simply abstain from voting in disgust.

    • Blissex Says:

      «we trust them to do what’s right by us»

      Tony Blair in 1999: «You see, people judge us on their instincts about what they believe our instincts to be.»

      «enact policies that take care of the southern affluent middle class»

      Because of an extremist, opportunist interpretation of Giles Radice’s “Southern Discomfort” essays, which are quite important.

      «and the upper class»

      In large part as the Labour elite has become a dynastic, upper-class elite like the Conservative one was from the beginning, and they get funding from the Liberal elite who know the Liberals don’t have the same bedrock of safe seats.

      As to taking care of upper class interests an interesting and quite disgusting quote:
      «Labour MPs have raised concerns that Jeremy Corbyn’s rhetoric on tax avoidance could appear anti-aspiration.
      A senior shadow cabinet source said the party leader was in danger of overreaching himself in his criticism of David Cameron for investing in Blairmore, the fund set up in an offshore tax haven in the Bahamas by his father Ian.»

      That is quite amazing… Explains a lot of what is going on in the PLP.

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