"If we can't take this lot apart in the next few years we shouldn't be in the business of politics at all..."
Tony Blair speaking about the Labour Party's century-long battle with the Conservative Party. September 26th 2006
Gordon Brown -- and the Labour Government he leads -- is facing the abyss. On Thursday May 6th, Britain's voters go to the polls. Faced with a choice of three major parties and several fringe loony parties. (c.f. Monty Python's election skit about The Silly Party and the Extremely Silly Party). Labour is now trailing in third place. Only the vagaries of Britain's first-past-the-post "winner-takes-all" electoral system stands between the party and obliteration. That and the fact that a large number of voters see the alternative major parties as equally flawed.
Courtesy of a back-room deal that Tony Blair blithely, needlessly and foolishly made in 1994, Brown inherited the leadership of both the party and the country in July 2007. It was a party that by then had won three consecutive elections (two in historic landslides) under Blair and a nation transformed from the catastrophic pig sty Labour inherited in 1997. Still much more work to do of course. And the sins of Blair's faith-based adherence to George W. Bush's derriere regions to live down. But the achievements so vastly outweighed the failings -- and the alternative was so patently glib (David Cameron's new-look Conservative Party's transparency is almost sincere) that as Blair noted about the Conservative Party in his farewell speech to the 2006 Labour Party conference "If we can't take this lot apart in the next few years we shouldn't be in the business of politics at all..."
Blair is about to see the accuracy of that last statement. The Labour Party is imminently facing not just down-sizing but wholesale redundancy. His hand-picked (or rather fear-picked) successor has squandered the political capital he inherited -- and compounding that with the Labour Party's incredible ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory -- Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are going DOWN.
The vastly over-blown incident last week in which a Sky TV microphone (surprise surprise - Sky TV is owned by Rupert Murdoch) captured a private moment of irritability and candor will -- if Britain's predominantly right-wing press have anything to do with it -- probably be the final nail in his and the Labour Party's coffin. But while Brown and the Labour Party certainly deserve some purgatory for failing to win this election outright -- the vast British public -- as incorrigibly stupid as a large part of it indubitably is -- doesn't deserve the venal price it will pay if the Conservative Party gains power. Or perhaps it DOES deserve the punishment for being so colossally dumb. But the poorer-off will suffer as they haven't done since the LAST Conservative regime -- the 18 years of misery-for-the-poor of Thatcher & co between 1979-1997.
Brown went walkabout last week and was confronted by an older woman (though she has now been canonized and rendered criticism-proof by being described as a "widowed granny" by a Murdoch tabloid that is offering her A QUARTER OF A MILLION POUNDS -- that's nearly FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS if she will give an exclusive interview before election day.) Splashing out close to half a million dollars is a small price for Murdoch to pay if it might guarantee him 10-15 years of Conservative Party deregulation -- the natural kickback he will receive for helping to savage a government that irresponsibly puts protection of poor people in front of profits.
The saintly widowed granny complained to Brown about East European immigrants -- the British equivalent of the Hispanic hordes that are now open to being executed on the spot in Arizona (sorry - that's NEXT year's law). What the lady said was:
"You can't say anything about immigrants because they're saying that you're... but all these eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?"
Now did this elderly lady with a (not to be unkind) rather finite vocabulary, actually mean to use the verb "flocking" as in "where are they coming from"? Or was she simply using the word "flocking" as a bowdlerized substitute for something more adjectival -- as in "where are they f*!#@ing from"? (As George Carlin once observed of ladies who politely curse: "come on... 'shoot' is just 'shit' with two Os".)
In any event -- once back in the safety of his official limousine -- and stupidly forgetting that he was still wearing an open radio microphone sending an audio signal back to the Murdoch-owned Sky TV crew that had been taping his public exchanges -- he groused to an aide about having had to speak to a "bigoted woman". (The lack of a flunky thinking to remove or switch off the live microphone is symptomatic of the stupidity in the Brown camp.)
The TV crew were ecstatic and couldn't wait to broadcast the private words on live TV. Then -- sensing a game-changing pot to be stirred -- ran after the about-to-be canonized granny and dragged her to the TV satellite truck so they could use her -- sorry PLAY her the audio tape -- and turn her understandable indignation into a stick with which to beat Gordon Brown, the Labour Party and the safety net that is all that stands between millions of poor people and the rabid forces of right-wing economics that are coiled to pounce like a wolf -- the moment that the sheep-like masses follow David Cameron (in his lambswool-sweater clothing) into the polling booth on Thursday.
The "shoot"-storm that ensued, fired up by Britain's press (which is a solid 85% right-wing and deeply vested in a Conservative revival), led to Gordon Brown ill-advisedly over-apologizing for what he said. Rather like Bill Clinton's endless apology tour when he should really have just said "flock you" to his political assassins.
With only a few days to go and massive catastrophe facing him, Gordon Brown shouldn't be apologizing for his honesty. He's got nothing left to lose at this point. From now till election day he should just try using his blunt unsugared honesty to tell the British public what he REALLY feels. Most of the British are a masochistic bunch anyway. Hence them voting for Thatcher & successor for four consecutive elections. Time to really kick 'em in the teeth with the truth. Maybe they'll be dumb enough to appreciate the candor.
Here are a few suggestions for Gordon Brown. I truly doubt that they'll win him the election at this late stage of the disaster he's presided over. But at least he'll go down in a blaze of glorious honesty:
You British people are a bunch of the most pathetic, ungrateful losers. After everything this government has done for you in the past thirteen years -- you're prepared to throw it all away just because things haven't been perfect. You make me sick.
If you lot had even half a brain cell between you, you'd know that as bad you may think I've been -- the Conservatives will be much, much worse.
Your memories must be severely retarded. Do you have any recollection at all of how badly ordinary people suffered under the Conservatives from 1979-1997?
I should have had the good grace and greater decency to have not spent the years between 1997-2007 constantly trying to undermine Tony Blair and push him out in order to grab what I felt was my birth-right. And I most certainly should not have made such an Ed Balls-up of presentation over the past three years -- not to mention running the most inept election campaign in Labour Party history. I'm completely done. And I've truly screwed the Labour Party and the nation.
Just because I don't have Tony Blair's confident swagger, glib tongue and natural charm -- that's no reason to hate me. There are so many more reasons than that...
Britain's poorest, least-able-to-defend-themselves are now going to be completely raped and trampled on economically by the Conservatives for at least ten years -- and it's all your own fault. I'm off to get a publishing deal for my memoirs. Flock off and good riddance.
MORE BACKGROUND ON THE UK ELECTIONS