New Labour and the Abolition of Standards

This amused:

The Times columnist Oliver Kamm is among the staunchest of an ever-dwindling band of Blairites, and was a supporter of Blair and New Labour throughout his time in office. That he should now be complaining of a lack of standards in the Labour party is somewhat ironic.

I remember when Blair won the 1997 election. Central to New Labour’s campaign was the idea that the Conservatives were out of touch and old fashioned and Britain was badly in need of modernising, and once in office they set about dismantling or “reforming” as many institutions as they could. Anything traditional was trashed, the latest whimsical fad adopted without question. Organisations and practices that had stood the test of time for generations were overhauled by Blair and his cronies who had not the slightest clue what they were doing, and nor did they care. All that mattered is Blair maintain his image as one of the cool, hip guys who could get down wiv the kids and get rid of Britain’s stuffy past. These were the days of Cool Britannia.

Blair’s contempt for the institutions and traditions of his own country went a long way to making the Union Flag a symbol of racism in some circles. Caught up in the stupidity, British Airways removed it from its tailplanes replacing them with tribal symbols and other such empty guff which typified those times. At least they were smart enough to reverse their decision in 2001, and BA were far from the only established firm to embark on a disastrous modernising and rebranding programme in the late ’90s and early ’00s; that list is long indeed.  It goes without saying that New Labour’s reforms were cack-handed in the extreme: their ban on fox hunting was an unworkable mess followed by an absolute fudge; the wholly unnecessary House of Lords reform made things worse; and the abolition of the historic Lord Chancellor’s position without consideration of the constitutional effects epitomised the hubris of Blair and the whole New Labour mindset.

As is so often the case when a leader sets about trying to modernise institutions they don’t understand, Blair ended up chucking out standards in the process. Principles no longer mattered, nor did truth, honesty, and transparency. “Spin” was the new buzz-word and one’s political stance could be changed suddenly if a focus group advised the winds of public opinion had shifted momentarily. Endless tinkering, meddling, and unnecessary reforms coupled with cronyism, pettiness, and mediocrity were hallmarks of Blair and New Labour, and they left behind them an almighty mess inherited by jumped-up PPE graduates in shiny suits and power skirts who knew only Blair-type politics and nothing else. The absolute joke that were the Milliband brothers were fine examples of this, as was the clownish David Cameron. Desperate to win back the political centre, the Tories abandoned all pretence to conservatism and became another version of New Labour, indeed its natural successor. This had the effect of shoving Labour further to the left as political standards across the whole spectrum fell even further.

And now we have Labour scraping rock bottom with the Tories trundling up to the hole with drilling equipment, and metropolitan journalists who used up half their column inches praising Blair’s cultural, institutional, and political vandalism complain that standards have slipped.

Well, who’s fault is that, then?

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31 thoughts on “New Labour and the Abolition of Standards

  1. Always happy to see Mr Blair done-down, but the BA ‘tribal’ tail-planes were unveiled at almost exactly the time he came to power, so it’s unlikely they can be blamed on him. They’re both just signs of their times.

    I can remember people wringing their hands over the union jack having become a racist/natioinalist symbol well before then too.

    The Tories did need to go in 1997, almost regardless of who replaced them.

  2. Always happy to see Mr Blair done-down, but the BA ‘tribal’ tail-planes were unveiled at almost exactly the time he came to power, so it’s unlikely they can be blamed on him.

    Fair enough.

    They’re both just signs of their times.

    Yes.

    The Tories did need to go in 1997, almost regardless of who replaced them.

    Yup.

  3. Excellent work, Mr Newman.

    I wonder how long it will be before people realise that government, when it says “We’ll fix that” or “We’ll look after you” are just giving advance notice of a power grab (and often an incompetent one)?

    Wouldn’t it be great if, just once, a party stood on a platform of doing as little as possible, as eventually, all problems resolve themselves, and govt action often just postpones that resolution?

  4. Surely ‘absolute babe’ is just the feminine of ‘absolute boy’, used to describe Jezza in Momentum-speak?

    Google image search research of Rayner is inconclusive. Well, there’s one or two photos of her looking really quite sexy (I’m a sucker for a ginger) but lots more of her looking not quite so hot at all.

    @John Square – A vain hope, sadly. The ‘Basically, it’s all fine party’ (anthem Steady As She Goes by The Raconteurs) would fail at the ballot box. And can you imagine the shrieking about complacency and the plight of the underprivileged?

  5. The real disaster of Blair’s march through the institutions was that he politicised EVERYTHING. We are suffering a rather American level of identity politics now. A ‘them and us’ divisiveness that wasn’t really there even at the height of Thatcher. There is no longer an agreement to disagree on things. If you aren’t a lefty liberal you are wrong and will get monstered by one side of the divide. And when that utterly illiberal ‘liberal’ side of the debate lose electorally they get violent and confused. It’s all very ugly and unnecessary.

  6. I first seen Blair when my visiting parents dragged me out of bed to see this British politician being interviewed on the telly, my dad told me to stop protesting and shut up and listen, like he did, even though I was a grown man at the time. So, having watched the boring interview and failed to notice anything, they asked who I thought he was, I responded to say some Tory politician and they surprised me by saying wrong he was the latest leader of the Labour opposition. Mum and dad were died in the wool labour voters.

    But for me the question is not what has happened to the Labour Party but what has happened to British politics. Let’s say I was just left of centre as most young men are when I left the UK over thirty years ago and let’s just say that my political position was frozen in time at that point, although admittedly like most young men I have drifted towards conservatism as I mature.

    My left of centre political position then of the late seventies early eighties UK political landscape would see me now as being branded as an extreme far right intolerant zealot. The political mainstream has galloped madly and ferociously to the left in the UK, I have experienced this as major milestone events on various visits to the UK over this time, the best example of the Marxist progress over time being the worsening torture of putting the bins out, the last time made me seriously consider if the Gulags would have been better than this. Political correctness has been out of control since the noughties to the extent that old mates of mine accused me of being out of order on this score during boozy sessions and not in jest. These guys were vulgar paki bashing, tooled up punks in their day and that is putting it mildly. Yes, the whole show has moved way far to the left much to the demise of what was great about Britain.

    British Airways are a good example of this decline, I fly a lot and fortunately I don’t have to fly with BA but whenever a route or a leg has come up with a BA flight, I have flat out not taken it. I despise their lounges with a passion as well.

  7. “There is no longer an agreement to disagree on things. If you aren’t a lefty liberal you are wrong and will get monstered by one side of the divide.”

    Yes, this seems to have infected lefty politics everywhere. Even in NZ, where the Labour party is, to a large degree, to the right of Ms May, and there are only small differences between them and the National party,. The language is often imported, ‘Tory Scum! ‘was an unknown phrase, now in common usage on the left leaning blogs.

    There seems to be zero connection between the hostile rhetoric and the actual policies. I think modern left wing politics is now more of a cult than anything else.

  8. “the best example of the Marxist progress over time being the worsening torture of putting the bins out”

    I remember some chap writing (in the Spectator I think) about how his parents spent as much time sorting through rubbish as a child in a Filipino slum…

    “what has happened to British politics” And the US, and Australia as far as I can tell.

  9. Just to add on the politicization of everything, anyone taking bets on the NFL being destroyed as a sport as a result of all this so-called protesting?

  10. Just to add on the politicization of everything, anyone taking bets on the NFL being destroyed as a sport as a result of all this so-called protesting?

    I don’t know, but I find the term “take the knee” rather fucking annoying given it entered common usage about three weeks ago after an episode of Game of Thrones.

  11. “I don’t know, but I find the term “take the knee” rather fucking annoying given it entered common usage about three weeks ago after an episode of Game of Thrones.”

    Lo, the intellectualisation of society continues.

  12. @David- “Just to add on the politicization of everything, anyone taking bets on the NFL being destroyed as a sport as a result of all this so-called protesting?”

    And yet they say they don’t know why crowds are down, nothing to do with a very masculine sport being radically feminized, pink days, sheilas being appointed into senior management positions, gay black players being promoted and offered shows on Oprah while white Christians players are quite often vilified.

    By the way Mark Arnold runs a great blog on American Football, he also does some fantastic political blogging as well and manages to keep them separate, his blog link is posted below for those interested.

    http://fromanativeson.com/

  13. I have only read two poltical biographies of Blair: Powell’s “The New Macchiavelli”, and Tom Bower’s impressively-referenced hatchet-job. Of course, one shouldn’t divorce the man from the spirit of the age and the institutions, and he did operate in what now looks like a very odd historical period. But both books had me wondering whether Blair was actually clinically insane while PM. Like or loathe them, no other PM of recent times has given me that feeling.

  14. “that list is long indeed.”

    Remember when PwC (possibly just the consulting arm; I can’t recall) announced they were going to rename themselves as ‘Monday’? To be fair, they were roundly mocked for this at the time. It never came to pass anyway.

    “The Tories did need to go in 1997, almost regardless of who replaced them.”

    No, I disagree. Virtually every single time that the Labour party has come to power (I know that isn’t what you said, but the reality in the UK is that if the Conservatives don’t govern then Labour will) it has ended in tears. When the Tories left in 1997 the economy was essentially recovered and there was a budget surplus.

    Unfortunately the reality was, after the ERM debacle, house price crash, Mayor leadership challenge, lots of sex scandals that invariably involved bondage, and the Hamilton arms sale thing, the Tories were a spent political force.

  15. “Just to add on the politicization of everything, anyone taking bets on the NFL being destroyed as a sport as a result of all this so-called protesting?”

    Had they simply ignored it last year, it would have gone away. But Trump sees advantage somewhere in this, and I’ve learned not to second-guess his instincts.

    I doubt that we can blame the NFL’s shrinkage on this. With a much more mobile population than ever before, there’s less pride of locality, and if you really don’t identify with your state or city, you have no reason to root for one team over another.

    This is made worse when few players play for their “home” teams. So, it becomes pointless and passionless. Who cares who wins?

    Also, football used to be a very popular sport for kids, from age ten to high school. Everybody played where I come from. No more – it gets harder to field a team every year, what with protective parents and concussion panic. If you played a sport for years as a kid, you watch it avidly as an adult. If not, then not so much.

    It’s probably time to move directly to gladiator contests anyway.

  16. “Abolition” please. “Abolishment ” too close to an unnecessary reform.

    Ooh yes, you’re quite right: changed.

  17. Remember when PwC (possibly just the consulting arm; I can’t recall) announced they were going to rename themselves as ‘Monday’?

    That was one example I was thinking of. Another was Royal and Sun Alliance calling themselves More Than (which they still do). And of course, I saw first hand the damage Lord Simpson did to Marconi when he took over from Lord Weinstock, deciding to make the company a sexy, hi-tech firm with a snazzy new logo, sending it to near bankrupcy a short time later.

  18. On the topic of rebranding, what was the company that turned itself into ‘Accenture’? If I recall, they also included bizarrely misused diacritics, as if whatever focus groups they ran it by consisted solely of pregnant black girls dreaming up baby names.

  19. On the topic of rebranding, what was the company that turned itself into ‘Accenture’?

    Andersen Consulting, partly to distance themselves from the car-crash of Arthur Andersen.

    If I recall, they also included bizarrely misused diacritics

    They still do!

  20. bobby b
    “It’s probably time to move directly to gladiator contests anyway.”

    Sort of what is happening with UFC isn’t it?

  21. The National Express East Anglia rail francise originally called itself “One”.

    And the ITV Digital/PG Tips Munkeh was created by an advertising agency called “Mother”.

  22. As an outsider looking in the other legacy of Blair’s dismantling of the nations controls would have to be in the area of immigration controls. Blair and his Multicultural Czar – Straw systematically and swiftly removed the majority of immigration controls in the UK legalizing sham marriages and sham students, widening immigrant classifications and the number of at-risk countries, improving access to welfare and immigration lawyers, granting immediate housing rights and causing just about everything that now seems to be a source of angst and problem for the normal functioning of British society.

    Not sure if the Brits ever had the discussion about this when it was taking place, my observation during numerous visits was that there was never any debate as far as I could see anyway.

  23. The Post Office became Consignia for all of 5 minutes bloody twerps,all sorts of dozey names started appearing normally followed by “in partnership with”some crappy council or bloody management company like VD or Badcock who would have a 3 year contract than lose it gain it again at a cheaper price lose it gain it and so on and so forth until they did the job for bugger all and it is still going on now much to the detriment of our defences,God they make me sick

  24. Not sure if the Brits ever had the discussion about this when it was taking place …

    No, but like the primitives we have become, we were distracted by various trinkets and baubles. Brown’s raid of pension funds (which I’m still not sure how he got away with) went towards the obscene increases in spending on education and health. In my area, there are scarcely any semi-literate single mothers who are not employed in local schools as teaching assistants or in other ‘support’ (i.e. arse-wiping) roles. Jeremy Kyle’s viewing figures must have plummeted. We had survived well enough before these non-jobs were invented, in fact I’d argue that this influx of staff has made things worse. With Sure Start, that psychotic monocular Scot effectively nationalised child-rearing. And then of course there was the introduction of working tax credits, with thresholds set so that people who should have been quite comfortably off and left to their own devices became enmeshed in the welfare system, and therefore less likely to support any dismantling of it. How cheaply we have been bought.

  25. “@Bobby- “But Trump sees advantage somewhere in this, and I’ve learned not to second-guess his instincts.”

    Yes I thought this as well, but it could be a case of him doing the right thing here but for all the wrong reasons ie taking the focus away from his shortcomings. An attack on the Black Panthers is always a good move (USA!USA!USA!), so maybe we should let the sport implode and then lets see how da brothers go when they are back on their knees, not earning the big bucks, washing dishes, making babies, shooting each other and doing drugs.

    My solution would be to stop playing the national anthem at the start of each game, lets face it its pointless, even the fat white patriotic fans would probably admit this fact and it would kill this issue dead.

  26. Well said. There’s an awful lot of criticism of Blair over Iraq (justifiably I think) but his constitutional vandalism is likely to last much longer with far more pernicious effects. Blair was basically a shyster lawyer with delusions of grandeur. I agree completely with your description of his approach to our traditions etc.

  27. There’s an awful lot of criticism of Blair over Iraq (justifiably I think) but his constitutional vandalism is likely to last much longer with far more pernicious effects.

    Yes, I have always found the Iraq adventure far easier to justify than his domestic policies.

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