When Blair had been prime minister for about 3 months in 1997, the Daily Telegraph carried a huge picture of Thatcher with Blair standing in front of it. The caption underneath says it all: ‘to Thatcher, a son’. It was the start of the Labour pseudo-Tory interregnum which has allowed Right-wing rule to prevail continuously in this country for the last 35 years That Blairite brand is now utterly toxic, made worse by his own insatiable lust for money and publicity. If Labour is still too craven to make a clean break with prolonged Tory austerity – though that is far and away the party’s best chance of opening up a big lead over the Tories and also stopping the haemorrhaging to UKIP and the Greens in England and to the SNP in Scotland – surely Labour has the guts to slough off its biggest mistake and regain a new identity, as Ed Miliband has repeatedly indicated he wanted to do, which portrays Labour as genuinely concerned with voters’ needs rather than with the inward-looking selfies of the Westminster bubble.
Almost everything New Labour touched has turned to dross. Examples abound everywhere. New Labour 13 years ago put the final nail into Barbara Castle’s State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme, the best and fairest pension scheme this country has ever had. It replaced it with so-called stakeholder pensions, outsourced of course to an extremely greedy and manipulative pensions industry. Here is predatory capitalism in the raw. SERPS would have ensured that after its 20-year run-in period nobody would have entered retirement in poverty. Now millions do, largely because the annual 2-3% fees charged by avaricious companies have gouged out huge holes in pensions, particularly for women, hundreds of thousands of whom having contributed all their working lives endu below the poverty line.
Another bright, but little known, New Labour innovation 15 years ago was the limited liability partnership (LLP). It has subsequently become the corruption vehicle of choice for organised crime. It allows partners in accountancy firms to limit their liabilities for dodgy audits while keeping the tax advantages of being a partnership. It allowed international criminal gangs to have anonymous offshore shell companies as the only ‘members’ of the ‘partnership’, with no real people as directors for law enforcers to chase. By last year there were 12,000 LLPs, each with just 2 corporate members located in the British Virgin Islands, the Seychelles, Belize, the Marshall Islands or Panama. They were used for everything from sanctions-busting arms deals with Libya and creaming off multi-million pound corrupt contracts in Ukraine to siphoning bent money out of Russia and shipping weapons to Syria. A real New Labour success story.