Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/537/6139
New Labour's parallel universe
In April 1946 George Orwell, author of the anti-Stalinist tribute to the Spanish working class, Homage to Catalonia, and Animal Farm, as well as the profoundly pessimistic 1984, wrote an essay called Politics and the English Language. The main thrust of this work was to expose the character of society that the political language of the day was designed to disguise.
One wonders what he would make of the present level of political discourse following New Labour's catastrophic showing in the local, London and Crewe elections. The language generally used in the publications of the establishment is designed to confuse.
The desertion of millions of working-class voters is caused, if a wide range of publications is to be believed, by Gordon Brown's lack of a sense of humour, or by his dour personality.
It is now impossible to wade through the dross of political comment without being assaulted by the trite and hackneyed phrases of New Labour apologists.
John Prescott provided a brilliant strategy for staving off the Tories: "Gordon's got to keep going," he said.
Gordon himself: "We've got to give careful consideration to the message from Crewe." Gerraway Gordie!
The Daily Mirror's editor implores: "Mr. Brown and his senior lieutenants must do something!"
Writing in the same paper, Tony Parsons bewails the possibility of a Tory landslide at the next general election. His solution: he excoriates Brown for not connecting with "the real lives of real people". But sugars the pill with the observation that: "No prime minister can do anything about a downturn in the global economy," as though the crazed free-market economics of the Blair/Brown project and their allies in the White House have no bearing on the direction the economy takes.
Harriett Harman utters the pearl: "There are discordant voices within the party." Would you believe it! She should have added: "They are petrified at the prospect of losing their places at the parliamentary pig trough."
The English language is reconfigured by Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian: "The left gorged itself on power and ignored the privatisation of public investment, the growing inequality, the crazed targetry, the corruption and centralisation of the Blair/Brown era." The term 'left' completely loses its meaning.
Not a single spokesperson of the Brown project mentions the obscenity of the bonuses paid in the City, where the latest wheeze is to pay bonuses to failed job applicants on the grounds that they may be useless but they need compensating for their disappointment.
Even Richard Lambert, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, was forced to recognise that: "The bonus culture has encouraged some to take spectacular short-term risks, confident that if things work out well they will reap huge rewards, and that if they don't they won't be around to pay the price."
It was noted that last year was a record for City fat cats who hauled in £14.1 billion, a near-30% increase on 2006.
John Hutton, minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform - a title straight from the Orwell's Ministry of Enlightenment - continues to maintain that: "We should praise great wealth."
Reflecting on New Labour's plight, David Miliband pledged support for Brown then uttered this devastating critique: "There's a bigger debate going on here... the tactics (in Crewe) of lampooning the extremely privileged Tory candidate was a dreadful mistake," not because it was vacuous and devoid of policy, but "because it gave the impression that Labour is no longer the party of aspiration," or the party of the excessively privileged.
The muted voice of the trade union movement is buried in the inside pages of the serious press. The Guardian reported on the TUC's Commission on Vulnerable Employment published the day before the Crewe by-election.
It is a devastating refutation of Brown's defenders who argue that things might be bad but you can't deny Gordon is committed to making poverty history. Well, they've even got that wrong.
The research found that: "The number of poor children living in working households is 1.4 million, exactly the same figure as it was in 1997."
Also "the number of poor working households with children has actually increased by 200,000; Labour promised it would 'make work pay'. It hasn't." This information never penetrates the hermetically sealed parallel universe of New Labour.
They continue to bleat about everything but the real problems flowing from the neo-liberal project. Even the writers who have rediscovered their radicalism still draw back from uttering 'public ownership' or 'renationalisation' or the restoration of party democracy.
Socialist writer Upton Sinclair once famously remarked: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
The poverty of today's political discourse reinforces Sinclair's observation one hundred fold.
In The Socialist 11 June 2008:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Defend Tommy Sheridan
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news