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Not PC: Blair's Post-Election Blues Vs NZ Politics

Peter Cresswell: Blair's Post-Election Blues, and How NZ Politics Measures Up

THE BEST OF NOT PC


Two 'Not-PC' opinion-pieces by Peter Cresswell from his Blog
Not PC
www.pc.blogspot.com

This week, why PC is uncharacteristically celebrating a Labour victory, and unceremoniously plotting where New Zealand's political parties fit in the political spectrum.

1. Plotting the NZ Political Spectrum

Since I started blogging I've been promising to post my 'map' of the New Zealand political spectrum, compiled largely from answers to the Advocates' World's Smallest Political Quiz' given by MPs and party supporters over the last ten years, and supplemented by an examination of relevant party policies. The results are charted here (or by clicking on the graphic above)

2. Blair's Post-Election Blues

Christopher Hitchens has waited forty years to "vote Labour on a point of principle," but the recent UK election has made that possible, he says. Read Hitchen's extended comments here. For myself, I have to say I did once enjoy a Labour victory -- 1987's Labour win is still a milestone in NZ's political history, even if I didn't vote for it -- but I little thought such a time would come again. It has.

Blair's principled stand on the liberation of Iraq has made it possible for non-Labourites to actually enjoy his election victory, for where his political opponents and spineless other European 'statesmen' vacillated and wavered (Bonjour Monsieur Chirac, Herr Schroeder and the miserable Michael Howard) Tony Blair has been absolutely solid on the necessity for the Iraq invasion and liberation. And he was right to be so.

This was really what the British call a 'khaki election', one in which Blair's stand in Iraq was put to the people of Britain. Thankfully the side of right has won. Just.

"Arguing about the war in Britain is quite different, in point of tone and alignment, from debating it in the United States," says Hitchens. Very different to debating it here as well. Unlike here and in the US, Britain seems to allow a rather more nuanced view on the necessity for regime change than the reflexive bile always so evident elsewhere when the words 'Bush' and 'Iraq' are mentioned in the same sentence.

Everywhere that is except, it seems, in the Tory party (Hitchens suggests "Anti-Americanism in Britain has long been a conservative rather than a radical trope, and dislike for George Bush is very common among the aristocratic remnant") or electorates such as Bethnal Green and Bow in which unreconstructed Stalinist and paid-up Saddamite apologist George Galloway -- expelled from the Labour Party for calling for jihad on British soldiers -- managed to disgrace his own election victory with a taste of the bitterness his campaign of hate engendered. (See some of that bitterness here in his interview with Jeremy Paxman.) Much of that hatred was deservedly directed at Galloway himself; as Hitchens comments, "How satisfying that those who support the Iraqi 'insurgency' from a safe distance have now received a taste of its real character."

So in the end, as TIADaily.com says,

"Tony Blair has won a historic third term as prime minister--but he has little to be happy about, since he did it with only 37 percent of the vote as his party lost dozens of seats in Parliament. The only reason he won was the incredible weakness of the opposition, especially Conservative leader Michael Howard, who went through an embarrassing series of flip-flops on the Iraq war (and who now plans to resign).

"Tony Blair is an odd combination of Peter Keating and Gail Wynand. (OK, that's a stretch, but bear with me.) Like Keating (and Clinton), Blair sought to be all things to all people, pursuing a compromising "Third Way" policy. Like Wynand, however, what brought him down was his one semi-principled act: his support for the Iraq War, an act that could not be made consistent with his overall character and history."

A graphic footnote to the election was this BBC account of the Oona King-George Galloway brawl in Tower Hamlets. Said Oona of George's pecuniary obeisances with Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, "What makes me sick is that when I come across someone who is guilty of genocide I do not get on a plane and go to Baghdad and grovel at his feet." Almost makes me wish I could have voted for her myself.

Cameron Pritchard makes some interesting further points here about Oona King and George Galloway that I would also endorse, and the US Senate investigations into Galloway's pecuniary relationship with Iraq's murderous former leaders will be worth following. And Irfan Khawaja's own thoughts on the matter here mirror my own, and explain further why I'm celebrating Blair's victory even more than are his own MPs.

And now? As they say, a week is a long time in politics.

Showing the gratititude and honesty typical of Labour MPs everywhere, British Labour MPs now want to stick the knife into the man they asked a country to vote for just last week, on the pretext that not enough people did so. "The [Labour] backbenchers, many speaking publicly for the first time, have been moved to hasten Blair’s departure after his majority was slashed by 94 in Thursday’s general election." Read here . And that's just the backbenchers; his cabinet are little better, bickering about the cabinet posts offered them. Apparently the words 'hypocrite' and 'ungrateful' are both spelt L-A-B-O-U-R.

Hypocritical blathering is not solely restricted to British Labourites however. In the wake of Michael Howard's resignation comes navel-gazing from British Conservatives too, wondering where it all went wrong for them. I can tell them quite simply: they can trace it to the day they so cowardly abandoned the Thatcher Revolution that had once made them both popular and principled.

But the latest navel-gazing demonstrates they still have no idea where they went wrong, as Mark Stey muses here. "The compassionate part of our Conservatism goes back deep into our history and must be renewed," says one tired old Tory picking through his navel fluff here , offering a paucity of ideas as flaccid as any given by the 'Heseltinis' who once so gleefully knifed Thatcher. "We sometimes talk as if all that matters is the individual and his or her freedoms but Conservatives have always valued the ties that bind us," he blathers to himself. "That's why we've never settled for the conventional bureaucratic welfare state. It's why we understand the ties of family, neighbourhood and nation." It's why they've been deservedly ignored by the country since at least 1993.

Blair stole what once made the Tories worth anything at all, and it's clear they still don't want it back.

[Original article here]

ENDS

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