Brown, Blair and the New Labour response to Corbyn

This weekend Gordon Brown weighed in and gave his tuppence worth about the Corbyn nomination, somewhat later than other former heavyweights of the Labour Party. Quite why Brown thought the need to pile in on the issue when Messrs Blair, Campbell and Mendelson’s entreaties not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn have fallen on deaf ears, remains a mystery. The Daily Mirror’s Paul Routledge in yesterday’s paper, writing about why people should listen to Gordon Brown, came out with this corker:

The people of Scotland heeded Gordon’s last-minute call to vote “No” in last year’s referendum. His intervention was decisive in holding the UK together.

Quite how Routledge came to the conclusion that Brown single-handedly ‘saved’ Scotland from itself is anyone’s guess – but for all of the journalist’s bluster about Brown’s credentials the one key issue that he failed to mention was that Gordon Brown never won a public mandate as Prime Minister, and failed just as miserably as Ed Miliband 5 years later in convincing the public that national debt was not caused by reckless spending, but by bailing out the banks. Despite seemingly having all the best intentions in the world, Brown just didn’t come across as convincing. Labour’s leading figures are tripping over themselves to define socialism as a ‘protest vote’ as much of the media do whenever an unlikely figure emerges to criticise austerity.


Much of the distrust of Labour stems from Tony Blair after the decision to invade Iraq, but it could be argued that the rot set in long before then. When Labour stormed to power on the back of a landslide victory in 1997, the nation was uncharacteristically optimistic; it was a new era, a new start. A new government after 18 years of Tory rule – but the soundbite culture of New Labour spearheaded by Alastair Campbell meant that politics became even more opaque, even more evasive. New Labour also saw the rise (by no means exclusively) and the consolidation of the career politician – the middle-class politico who’s only experience of work is in the Westminster bubble.

So, it’s little wonder then that people have come back to the party in droves now that there is the possibility of a candidate that represents Labour’s traditional core values, and who in some ways will roll back the precedents set by the New Labour era. The ghosts of Labour’s past have popped up to have their say on Cobyn, and the other candidates (except Burnham) have lined up to rubbish the idea of a Corbyn leadership, and yet none of these figures have acknowledged a simple fact. The labour Party’s rank have swollen in number because the favourite for the leadership represents an alternative; not for the first time the party is ignoring what a huge number of people want, and are instead blindly insisting that following the Conservative jet stream is the only way forward. Should Corbyn win, he still has the wider party to compromise with when laying out the policies and manifesto for the next election, that compromise should be enough to ensure that Labour have the policies to challenge in the 2020 election.

In the meantime, The Labour Party continues to put the party before the wishes of potential voters and it will be that, rather than any move to the left that will condemn it to over a decade in opposition.


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