And so it is that I find myself being in agreement with Roy Hattersley. His piece in The Times today amounts to a capitulation of New Labour. Not that he was ever really a fan of New Labour. His libellus begins:
The Labour Party is suffering, as it has suffered since 1994, from sacrificing its reputation as a party of principle...
The “project” was rarely defended on its merits. Winning became new Labour’s guiding philosophy.
A pretty conclusive damnation of Labour and Gordon Brown in particular, the latter being described thus:
The man who promised to move away from government by press release has wasted his time sending messages of condolence to the husband of a dead reality-show “star” and support to a talent-contest finalist.
Like me, Hattersley is not convinced that the Conservatives are winning on merit, but merely by default. The Tories are, or rather Cameron is, Blair Lite.
It is true to say that the Tories are having the free ride of their lives, and yet, at the bottom of it all, when you look at them, one finds one's self asking, "what's the difference?" Both parties are happy to go along with this bloated, bureaucratic monster that governs us. Both are happy to send our soldiers to fight absurd wars and both are happy to tax us until it stings. The Tories are not talking about pulling out of the Lisbon Treaty and neither are they talking about reeling back the criminalisation of the middle classes, under a welter of petty legislation and local bullying by councils. All this, mind you, is done under the watchful eyes of spin doctors and press officers. Both parties are happy to change little and routinely lie to us. There is a lot of talk but very little real change. Our choices at the next election then, are rather shite choices. (I exclude the SNP from this because I still believe they are the only party that is offering real choice to the electorate - you may not agree with them but they are at least being different.)
In the end, we are at the fag end of a fashion. It's a fashion for the appearance of things, rather than the reality; a fashion, so prevalent now, for simulacra. The days of moral absolutes are long gone. Opinions are tempered by the need to homogenise everything for public consumption.
Hattersley's plea for "principles" is not a voice crying in the wilderness, it is a voice belonging to the past.
UPDATE: (for those who mistakenly thought this was a post in admiration of RH ..
the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed, the probabilities are that the more insincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it will not be colored by either his wants, his desires, or his prejudices. (OW)