This morning I listened to John Humphries interview the Shadow Education Secretary, Ed Balls, on BBC Radio 4′s Today program. Yes, I know, I should move on from ranting about the inadequacies of New Labour and start ranting about the Tories and Lib Dems but hang on.
Following the publication of Mandelson’s diaries and a book by Andrew Rawnsley both documenting the infighting within the New Labour cabinet between Blair and Brown, Humprys was trying to pin down Balls on his association with the infighting through his association with Brown. Mandy had called the infighting an insurgency and Humphries said that Andrew Rawnsley’s book claims Mr. Brown was vacillating before a planned “coup” in 2006 and Ed Balls told Mr Brown: “It’s too late. It’s all in place. It’s going to happen.”. Adn article in The Evening Standard claimed Balls also said: “Blair is never going to go. He has to be pushed. You mustn’t be weak. You’ve been weak for too long.”
So Mr. Balls waffled and said the book was full of inaccuracies but, tellingly, did not deny the specific incident.
Humphries drew attention to Labour’s part in the financial crisis and a McKinsey document stating the UK’s horrendous debt. Mr. Balls waffled, saying “interests rates were low” and “inflation was low” and went on to say that the crisis was global, implying that nobody is to blame at all.
This tosh is like a second rate rehash of Gordon Brown’s interview technique and shows that Balls, like Brown, does not understand the linkage between cheap money (low interest rates), the asset price bubble and the financial crisis. I am reading the diaries of Tony Benn – “More Time For Politics” at the moment and he wrote something which goes to the heart of New Labour spin. He said: “….I no longer feel that I am required to believe what I am told by (new Labour) ministers”.
It occurred to me that the feud between Brown and Blair may have contributed, in a very substantial way, to the prevalence of manipulators, bullshitters and bullies surrounding the New Labour government. Both Blair and Brown would have needed hatchet men and this need would have driven out any wise, thoughtful or competent advise. Leading on from this one can speculate on the whole nature of the New Labour years without the likes of Campbell, Mandelson and Balls. If wiser heads had prevailed might Blair have remained relatively sane and not led the UK into Iraq? Might Brown have had more time for the economy and avoided the worst of the financial crisis? We shall never know.
Several people have commented to me that the Tories would have screwed things up just as bad as Labour. Maybe. But of course they didn’t did they. It was Labour and you have to punish governments who screw up by chucking them out otherwise you are just rewarding incompetence.
No doubt the Tory/LibDem coalition will draw my attention in time, though right now I just find the absence of Mandy bullshit a refreshing change and with the remnants of New Labour still voluminously TALKING BOLLOCKS it is easy to get distracted.
The Labour party wont move on until it faces up to its mistakes and rejects the unsavoury characters from the New Labour years. If it doesn’t then, once the Tories have fallen out of favour, we will be faced with another Labour government wastin ti’s time on spin rather than achieving objectives. In the words of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition the Labour party need to “Confess the heinous sin of heresy”and “reject the works of the ungodly”. ie admit that they screwed up and chuck out the likes of Balls.