MIRRORING previous political battles ahead of general election year, the current low ebb of the Tory party has fuelled a media frenzy around the return of Labour to power. To those who have been paying attention to events since 2020, a change of government will not necessarily be good news. While it might give the impression of democracy in action, there is now a much better understanding of the convergence between the left and the right which has been gaining momentum since the mid-1990s. The dramas playing out within our borders obscure the real political power being wielded by the billionaire elite class, where the seemingly unstoppable rise of global corporate power accompanies the implementation of a new world order though a network of transnational institutions.
All of this suggests that a change of government, whatever its so-called ideological convictions, will only ever be window-dressing, and that we can expect more of the same as during the last three years. The signs have been there for a long time as our political parties have become more corrupt, more open to influence from those with vested interests, and more distanced from the people they were voted in to represent. Labour long ago began to embrace a rather different concept of ‘social justice’ from the one it originally stood for and now aligns with woke corporate interests and, as Thomas Sowell (1996) so perceptively observes, ‘the vision of the anointed’.
The demise of traditional left-wing concerns with materialism, working class solidarity and society inequality can be traced back to the 1970s. The oil crisis had already seen the exit of Heath’s Conservative government in 1974, unable to appease the public sector or to control inflation/balance of payments. The Callaghan Labour government which followed found itself even more out of its depth. ‘More socialism’ was never going to solve Britain’s dire economic situation. In contrast, the Thatcher government aligned itself with robust fiscal policies which would stabilise and build the UK’s economy from the ground up. Labour found itself out in the cold, both economically and politically. Keynesian economics was discredited as a governing strategy and economic liberalism was being championed by Francis Fukuyama as ‘the end of history’.
The media always plays a huge role in the popularity of political parties. In 1980s Britain, the neo-liberal market agenda which spearheaded a global swing to the right was accompanied by a purge of the print unions by Rupert Murdoch and Margaret Thatcher’s face-off with the coal industry, where she broke trades union power, and isolated and disempowered pockets of hard-left defiance such as the Liverpool council leadership under Derek Hatton. This ideological sea-change began to be mirrored in the Labour party. At the 1985 Labour Conference, Neil Kinnock’s forceful denunciation of the Trotskyite faction of the party called out the militant, direct action stance of the hard left. This turbulent period set in motion a radical ideological switch which would culminate in the birth of ‘New Labour’ in the 1990s. Ultimately, the successive election defeats of 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 provided the biggest momentum for change. It seemed that no one was really convinced enough to vote Labour.
All these events prompted the main element of Labour to distance itself from the traditional left. The remodelling of the party began in earnest when Tony Blair took over the leadership after the death of John Smith in 1994. According to Tony Benn, ‘Blair did not change the Labour Party, he created an entirely new one.’ The biggest change was the ideological shift from social class representation to the promotion of meritocracy, opportunity and social mobility. Blair argued that his party would replace the redistribution of wealth with the redistribution of opportunity. Influenced by sociologist Anthony Giddens’s ideas on a ‘third way’ resolution of state and market, the key was to be an expansion of higher education and greater access to university education. Blair said politics must reflect a changing world where social class was no longer relevant in an age of ‘cosmopolitan citizenship’. Therefore, New Labour would no longer challenge material inequality as part of its core résumé, but would reflect diversity, difference and ‘otherness’. Previous ideological convictions were discarded, with consultation, open debate with the party, and focus groups becoming the new modus operandi. Perhaps the biggest statement by the Blair administration was the erasure of Clause 4 ‘ownership of the means of production’ from its manifesto. Blair also embraced the UN’s growing influence in environmentalism and sustainability as national policy goals, and was willing to concede sovereignty on these matters to the supra-national level.
So what should those who retain faith in democracy and the power of the vote expect from a Labour victory? Sir Keir Starmer is unlikely to resurrect Clause 4, return to the materialist politics of his party’s past, or realistically address the staggering levels of poverty which have shadowed the actions of government policy for the last three years. We should remember that as 2020 unfolded the opposition party remained remarkably silent on the millions who were losing their businesses, homes and livelihoods. In fact, the incoming Starmer administration of April 2020 was marked by another purge of the leftist factions bequeathed by Corbyn. Clearly looking to align itself with an incoming globalist agenda, Labour deepened its embrace of identity politics and proselytised on woke social justice, diversity and minority recognition. The fact that upholding this kind of ‘cosmopolitan citizenship’ would now exist a priori to the declining material circumstances and living conditions of the general population speaks volumes for the issues which concern the Labour party in 2023. Will their manifesto include a discussion on the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and its policy manifestation as Net Zero? Unlikely. Is there a possibility that they might revise the goals of Net Zero itself? Doubtful in the extreme. Are they going to challenge the UN’s draconian Agenda 2030 goals? Of course not. The parties which supposedly represent democracy in the UK are now ‘shell institutions’, eviscerated of domestic political meaning and action. Both mainstream parties know that their best chance of getting elected is to align to values, beliefs and policies which emanate, not from their electorate, but from the increasing influence of globalist politics. Come the general election, perhaps Labour will prove to have danced more closely with the pied pipers of the billionaire/technocratic tie-up.