Saturday, June 12, 2004

digging graves at blood and treasure

I spent a bit of Thursday on the phone, batting the options round with a mate. The Lib Dems? Yeah. In the end. What do you think? Went with the Greens. Yeah, but they’re not going to make it in North Manchester. Good for Whalley Range, but you’ve got to get Labour out and round here that means the Lib Dems.

You’ve got to get Labour out. We paused as the enormity of that sunk in. And for people of our time and place, that is an enormity. But it’s also a banality, a plain and obvious fact. Tony Blair didn’t steal the soul of the Labour Party. His presence at its head is evidence that it lost its soul sometime during the desperate days after the 1992 election.

It’s not that I don’t sympathise with this campaign on a personal level:

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Yes, indeed, it would be a pleasure to see him go. As his memorial, let the words “Take eyecatching initiatives and associate me with them” be projected on to the night sky above Baghdad. Let them be painted on the forecourts of every petrol station in the land as the queues stretch back for miles and the black stuff reaches £10 a gallon.

But I’m not going to chain myself back to a corpse because somebody changed its head. Would this lead to – gasp – right wing government? Yes, and we’ve had an unbroken stretch of that since 1979. Would – say – a Tory/Liberal coalition be any more right wing?

Get rid of Blair by all means, but send the Labour party with him. It’s over. It is no more. It has ceased to be, or at least ceased to be meaningful. Let’s create a vacancy on the left and amuse ourselves while candidates to fill it cavort and posture before our eyes.

And on that point, a brief memo to Respect. You were crap. Try doing us the honour of thinking up a proper name for the enterprise. Act like you’ve got jobs, or could conceivably get them. Give people some confidence that you could help them out in an everyday, material sense. We’re trying to dig a grave here. If you want to help out, bring a bloody shovel.