Sunday, March 12, 2006

Torification, Torification, Torification

'Labour has a majority of 67. Blair doesn't', one clearly exultant leftwing MP told me after the 2005 election. At the time, I was inclined to agree.

But there is one thing neither of us had factored in. The prime minister can now rely on Conservative backing for what are essentially conservative policies, as he will do on Wednesday when the Commons votes on the education bill.

Blairite commentator Martin Kettle correctly points out that Blair will sustain little if any political damage:

'The reality is that a Labour victory with Tory support seems to carry little penalty among the electorate generally - or even within the Labour Party.'

None of that should be a surprise, Kettle goes on to argue, when British politics is 'dominated by a choice of centrist options'. On the surface, he seems to be correct on both counts.

Yet the night will mark another minor milestone along the way to Labour's conversion into a outright bourgeois party. Another few hundred good people - the sort of members New Labour no longer either wants or deserves - will tear up their membership cards in despair.

And the case for a new workers' party will be made just that little bit more clearly than before.

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