Editorial: Sound and fury, but no change
War movies traditionally end with a wide-shot of a carnagestrewn battlefield, with the weary, tattered and bloodied victors staring glazedly across it, wondering about the pointlessness of it all. Was it really worth the valour, the bloodshed, the aches and the pains?
So too was the image of the newly re-elected Labour government, as its footsoldiers clambered leadenly on to the summit of their high command’s chosen objective, Third Term Hill. Never before has the Labour Party succeeded in claiming this prize – all other attempts were wrecked by landmines and pit-falls like wages policies, unemployment, national debt, and the like.
Under Tony Blair’s leadership the Labourites realised that even presenting a minimal challenge to capitalist orthodoxy
would fatally undermine their charge. Instead, they have stuck behind him as they marched single file up the straight and narrow path of capitalist politics, and thus their faction of the Capitalist Party has managed to scale the heights once more.
The voters rewarded their adherence to capitalism. The message of the election was – forget war, forget asylum, forget council tax, the British electorate overwhelmingly expressed their support for the wages system’s continuing existence. Certainly, these other issues caused a few Labour extras to die suitably dramatic deaths by the wayside, but the heroic brothers and sisters of New Labour are now definitively over the hill. From that vantage point, they can see the eternal struggles before them. Looming
economic slow down, which will crush their ‘No return to boom and bust’ armour.
Their shield of the NHS will get smashed by the increased need to build up private sector health facilities. Their troops will
grow mutinous as Major Blunkett will order them to fire on their pensions – a desperate attack on workers’ pay and conditions to protect capital’s profits.
The Labour Party has been in office for eight years now. The old Tory governing elite are in tatters, yet nothing has changed. Labour accepts and applauds the need for profits. But the demands of the state for money are tempered by the fact that the only way to get it is by digging into the profits of the capitalists. In a social system geared towards making profits for the wealth owners any policy that cuts into profits will cause the sort of political turbulence that has wrecked previous Labour governments. To try and appease their base – to build the ‘public services’ they have put at the heart of their campaigns – they have had to increasingly turn to the private sector, to showing private capitalists how they can take a cut of the tax cake if they join the state in providing the services.
This happy alliance has seen Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and Public Finance Initiatives (PFI) meaning that the state has not had to increase its nominal size along with its real size. The wealth stays firmly in the hands of the private capitalists. That has been New Labour’s secret weapon. So long as the economic weather held, this alliance was good. If that weather changes – the unpredictable uncontrollable economic cycle turns nasty – then Labour will have to choose between eating into diminishing profits or turning their fire on the workers and voters who put them in office. Not that there’s any doubt about which option they will go for.
Their new found focus on unmeasurable things like ‘respect’ – which sounds remarkably like John Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ – means their devotion to sound and fury has increased. The hollow bugle calls of a desperate commander trying to sound in control.
That glorious leader, though, is now fatally wounded – a Nelson tenderly kissed by his hardy Lieutenant Brown. He will quit the field to retire to his millionaire lifestyle as reward for service tendered. While he limps on, though, voices from the Labour back will begin to murmur – what was the point? Why all the bluster, the fighting and battling just to take another forsaken hill in a pointless
political war that makes a lot of noise about making very little change?
Until the banner of a consciously socialist movement, though, takes the field what looks like a war movie to some, will remain a horror flick for the rest of us.