The Null Device

Labour: The kinder, gentler Tories

Some of Tony Blair's oldest and closest allies have turned against him, claiming that he is running down the Labour Party. Their main charge (other than the Bush's poodle/Iraq thing, which goes without saying) is that Labour under Blair is primarily concerned with pushing the Conservative Party to the margins of politics by appropriating their ideologies and positions; not only has Labour abandoned socialism (which, to an extent, made sense; calling for things like the nationalisation of all industry does seem somewhat anachronistic), but social democracy has gone out the window as neo-liberalism is the only game in town.

Some interesting questions come to mind. If Labour are the new Tories, could we see Labour and the Tories form an Australian-style right-wing coalition a few years down the track to do battle against the Lib Dems/Greens/whoever? (The parallels are tempting; the marginalised Tories can be the Nationals, appealing to fox-hunters and god-botherers, whereas Labour can be the tragicomically-misnamed majority party of the coalition.) Secondly, is it the case that Blair hijacked Labour and turned it into Tories with good spin, or rather that the allies who are making the claim are overestimating the amount of ideological freedom a party has in this neo-liberal, globalised age, and that anybody to the right of George Galloway would have done the same sorts of things by necessity?

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