03 August, 2006

Busted flush

If Tony Blair were President, not Prime Minister, and there were nationwide elections due to be held tomorrow for his position, I have no doubt whatsoever that he would be defeated by one of the largest majorities in history.

If there was a General Election tomorrow, however, run on precisely the same rules as all past contests, I'm minded to conclude that Labour would probably squeak home by a tiny margin. A victory, but a minute one.

The fact is that, as far as I can tell, public discontentment with the Government isn't being applied to the Government as a whole, but a specific and marked coterie of individuals who have made it their business over the past few years to identify themselves as the only people of any importance in the country.

These aren't the people whom voters will have met on the streets of their villages, towns and cities over the past nine years, canvassing, dealing with problems, supporting local causes and throwing open the doors of their surgeries to try and sort out a hundred and one squabbles and complaints. And these aren't the people who get regular access to the national airwaves.

They are the people who have so removed themselves from the day-to-day life of the country that it's no longer possible to believe or trust anything they say. They are the people who seem happy to hitch the UK to the back of the clapped out station wagon that is the US and get towed this way and that regardless of what the rest of the world thinks and says.

They are the people who so rushed to identify themselves with Labour's early successes that they cannot help but completely associated with Labour's more recent string of failures. And they are the people who fall into line behind Tony Blair every single time.

I despair of and for the state of the world when a country such as the UK, once perceived as something of a honest broker on the global stage, is now not part of the solution but a whacking great part of the problem.

But what can I do about it? Come the next election Labour will lose a whole swathe of seats, culling scores of those decent backbench MPs who've worked tirelessly for democracy and freedom and proper constitutional government, but will stay in power clustered around the same old craggy faces and even craggier policies. And so it will continue.

Rarely has there been a more apt moment for a new kind of politics, even a new kind of political party, to emerge and tap into the vast well of anger seemingly boiling up across Britain at the practice of power and the misuse of privilege. For the dam to break, however, everyone first needs to know how to swim.

Which is either a profound aphorism or a glib sign-off. Take your pick!


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