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Shortly just before his sad passing Michael Meacher MP wrote in his Foreword to this book “This is a systematic analysis of the biggest internal coup d’ etat in the history of the Labour Party. It exposes the mechanisms behind the New Labour take-over and focuses on the sinews of power and how they were perverted to maximise the Leadership’s control for its own purposes.
All channels of democratic decision-making were closed down and trade unions were suppressed. The Party was neutered as an instrument of reform and converted into an adjunct of neo-liberal capitalism. Blair could not have upended Labour principles without the essential pre-condition of a rock solid New Labour majority in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). This coup de grace was delivered by the New Labour political machine which provided him (and later Brown) with the rigging of the selection process for Parliamentary candidates. This transformed the PLP from being broadly representative of Labour voters and roughly balanced between left and right to one where Blairite loyalists formed a large majority and the left was drastically whittled down.” Gaye Johnston adds, “The composition of the current PLP is very similar which largely explains the recent revolt against, and disloyalty to, the Corbyn Leadership.”
MM continued, “What makes this book so important is that it is an honest, detailed highly readable account of what went so badly wrong and what safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that it cannot happen again.”
Which topics are covered by this book?
The book examines the values, aims, policies and achievements of the New Labour Project /Governments and compares and contrasts these with those of the Labour Party and its governments in earlier years. ‘Old’ Labour promoted values and policies designed to create a more socialist and equal society. However the predominant aim of ‘New’ Labour was winning elections, neither more nor less. No price was considered too high to pay to achieve that end. Comparative analyses of the achievements of ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Labour Governments demonstrate that the policy outputs of ‘Old’ Labour administrations were far superior to those of the New Labour apostasy.
This work is timely. It offers much fresh information about the many ways in which New Labour actually operated in order to entrench its power base and bury the Party’s long held values and aims. Among other actions, it created a dedicated New Labour secretariat and team of organisers loyal to itself but without commitment to Party democracy or to the grass roots members. Further, it did lasting damage to Labour’s relationships with the trade unions and with working class people generally.
In terms of Party governance: New Labour was far less democratic than its predecessors. The in-put of rank and file Party members and trades unionists into policy making and party administration was severely reduced which was deeply resented by those groups. Annual Conference was demoted from being the Partys’ supreme governing and policy making body to being an empty, but spectacular, rally. It was used as a showcase for speeches by Ministers and Shadow Ministers. Most grassroots members were allowed few chances to contribute and none if they were known to be critical of New Labour.
There follows an in- depth examination of how the Parliamentary candidate selections were rigged up until the 2010 election and frequently afterwards .This accounts for the large Blairite majority in the contemporary Parliamentary Labour Party. Virtually all this information about candidate selections is new and has not been previously published. The deterioration of Parliamentary democracy under New Labour is also documented. This book timely: it offers much fresh information about how New Labour really operated.
JeremyCorbyn’s first election as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015 should have signalled the first green shoots of Labour’s return to democratic socialism and to being a democratically run party with empowered grass roots members. However, a large section of the Parliamentary Labour Party remains loyal to New Labour and has been opposing the Corbyn Leadership. They have been resisting Labour’s return to being a democratic socialist part as the vast majority of Labour’s contemporary grass roots members wish.
More than 80 Labour Party members, from the New Labour era, were interviewed in depth (and usually directly quoted). These included: 27 MPs, 27 Constituency Secretaries (from most UK regions), 7 trades union leaders (including Len Mc Cluskey and Billy Hayes), 14 excluded (non- New Labour) aspiring Parliamentary candidates, former Party staff and other grassroots activists. MPs interviewed included: Jeremy Corbyn, John Mc Donnell, Jon Cruddas, Clare Short, Michael Meacher, Frank Dobson, Lyn Jones, Katy Clark, Kelvin Hopkins and Graham Stringer.
This work is original and different.Numerous book shave been written about the New Labour era. Virtually all have been memoirs of the New Labour elite (including Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair himself) . Alternatively, they were the work of journalists outside the Labour Party.
Currently it is more vital than ever that New Labour’s mistakes are considered and lessons taken for the future. The Party should also learn from New Labour’s, albeit limited, achievements.
Thank you for your interest and I hope that you will find the book illuminating.
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This page was last updated on: 29/07/2017