What a country has been built over the last thirteen years. When I think back to those first few months of the Labour administration in 1997, I think of the hope that coursed through the veins of the British public, the great and good (and Oasis) queuing up to shake the hand of Blair.
Good God, how did he do it? How did he get them to file into his house like star-struck teenage autograph hunters? Say what you like about Blair, but man, his PR was good in those days.
In 1997 it was going to be different this time. The old remnants of a divided, corrupt and arrogant Conservative party had been swept away, replaced by a shining new Labour party, shorn of the old hateful, envious, nationalising mania of the past; waiting to carry us in to this glorious new Jerusalem to the sounds of masses cheering, screaming guitars and hip dance music.
Truth be told, the Tories really haven’t changed over this last decade, they dress in a more modern fashion, they’ve learned how to present and have dulled that edge which many found so objectionable, but the PR transformation is nowhere near that of Labour in the mid 90’s.
We now look at a Labour government which is just as divided as the Tories ever were under Major, and as far as my memory serves me are more corrupt and light years ahead in the arrogance stakes. That those Tories had to be kicked out in 1997 is without doubt. That a good many people called warnings from the sidelines is well remembered. Did anyone, even New Labour’s most venomous critics, expect what we have now?
The vista of British society and community is as devastated, as unrecognisable as the Haitian capital. If you had shown a picture of today’s Britain to everyone’s thirteen years younger selves in 1997, what would their response have been?
How would they have reacted to see legions losing their lives to infections in hospital? They would have heard of nothing like it since the charnel houses of the Peninsular campaign.
How would they have responded to being told that they would have no choice but to be electronically stripped searched before heading off on their holidays?
How would they have accepted the notion of a government that declared a legally questionable war, especially when the threat to our security was almost nil?
What would they have said upon hearing about real suspicion falling on the government following the death of one of its prime experts in suspicious circumstances, especially when they then decided to bury the records for 70 years, after having him thoroughly smeared and discredited?
How would they have felt upon learning that they would face a good chance of arrest, or at least questioning, for taking pictures of famous landmarks, and being suspected of terrorism by a politicised police force?
What would they have thought about the pandering to the professionally offended, or at least those who quake in their boots at the prospect, to the extent that jobs cannot be advertised with a request for reliable and hard working people?
How would they come to terms with a government that illegally imprisons people in their own houses, freezing their assets and allowing them £10 a week to live, because it is suspected they may be involved in terrorism, whilst the convicted are released early and an increasing underclass can claim the monthly average wage in handouts and are penalised even if they do want to work?
How could they have understood that in a democracy, you would have had to apply for permission from the authorities to hold a demonstration outside parliament?
How would they have stared with incompetence when they learned that they had been lied to over getting a say in the signing away of our sovereignty?
How could they deal with the fact that the lowest earners had seen their tax burden sky-rocket whilst the country attracted more debt than had ever been conceivable?
The list could go on, when you look over this government’s achievements you see nothing but failure, deceit, vanity, hubris and the almost complete humiliation of those who elected them.
It will be different this time, there will be no cheering crowds, no film and pop stars waiting patiently in line to be seen pressing the flesh, no glorious new Jerusalem; there will be the knowledge that there will be no change, and a flinty look in the eye of the electorate waiting for the Tories to show themselves to be as feckless, reckless and thoughtless as Labour, and for an opportunity to remove them from power as soon as possible.
Let’s see how the ‘others’ column does over the next five years. Democracy is not dead in Britain, it is just being born.
A very interesting item over at Captain Ranty’s place, not a million miles removed from my ramblings.