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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ten Glorious Years!

The countdown clock that has ticked away in my sidebar all these months has registered zero. It is ten years since midnight on 1st May 1997 and the coming to power of The Great Leader, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

One day I'll be rich enough to get my teeth fixed privatelyBorn in Scotland a year to the day before Roger Bannister proved that humans could run a 4-minute mile without suffocating, Tony was the second son of Leo and Hazel and a proud Englishman. He hailed from a typical eclectic family from the British Isles. Scottish Father Leo was a copywriter on the Communist Party newspaper "The Daily Worker" and the illegitimate son of two English actors. Irish mother Hazel was the daughter of Donegal butcher and Ballyshannon Orange Lodge member George Corscadden. The family has no celtic links, as sex with the Welsh was banned on genetic grounds.

Leo was a professional inspiration to Tony, giving up a lower-middle-class job as a tax inspector to pursue an upper-middle-class career in law, soon settling for talking about it rather than doing it in a post as Lecturer in Law at Durham University.

The young Tony attended Durham's Chorister School before becoming a boarder at Edinburgh independent school Fettes College, where he met Charles Leslie Falconer, who would later become his flatmate and buddy and a man who would eventually dig him out of a spot of bother or two.

The Great Leader enjoyed a reputation as a conspicuously "cool" young man among fellow pupils at Fettes, something that would prove invaluable when later launching the Cool Britannia campaign. His teachers were full of admiration for Tony's individuality and spunky sense of independence, making such comments as "he was the most difficult boy I ever had to deal with", "he was a complete pain in the backside" and "I was very glad to see the back of him." Blair was arrested at Fettes, having being mistaken for a burglar as he climbed into his dormitory after being out late. This unpleasant experience was key to his later determination to be tough on street crime and to apply VAT to ladders.

"You're under arrest for impersonating a socialist"Modelling himself on Mick Jagger, Tony was lead singer with the popular music combo Ugly Rumours. On graduating from Oxford with a second class degree, Blair enrolled as a pupil barrister at Lincoln's Inn, where he met his future wife, successful graduate and QC-to-be Cherie Booth. Realising that his own legal career would be overshadowed by that of his fiancée, Tony decided to take up politics. According to his biographer and Independent columnist, John Rentoul, Tony was much less concerned about which party he was affiliated with than about his aim of becoming Prime Minister.

The obvious choice was the established party of power. But the Tories considered him an undesirable, so in a fit of pique the young Blair set out to create his own Conservative Party under the banner of New Labour. With Old Labour full of people with no clothes sense and quite unable to maintain an erect posture while walking on beaches, this seemed like a relatively simple task.

Mark Trotter - Hackney Labour "hero"A good place to start such a career in politics was the solid Labour heartland of Hackney. With a Council comprising 59 Labour 1 Others, Hackney seemed like a easy target. But his attempts to secure the Labour nomination for Queensbridge Ward were thwarted by Council leader John Mccafferty, who mistook the eager young socialist for a self-serving middle-class entrist and sent his enforcer Mark Trotter to sabotage Tony Blair's campaign - an act for which a commemorative statue was later proposed.

Justifiably enraged by this political manipulation, The Great Leader wrote passionately to Party leader Michael Foot, explaining: "Like many middle class people I came to Socialism through Marxism (to be more specific through Deutscher's biography of Trotsky). Reading Marx has given me the principles and priorities I have todayThe trouble with Marxism is that it is fine if you make it your political servant but terrible if it becomes your political master.

I actually did trouble to read Marx first hand. I found it illuminating in so many ways; in particular, my perception of the relationship between people and the society in which they live, was irreversibly altered. But ultimately it was stifling because it sought to embrace in its philosophy every facet of existence. That of course is its attraction to many. It gives them a total perspective on life. But that can simply become an excuse to stop searching for the truth."


Tony would later refine these ideas and distil them into the dictum "Get that Scouse b*****d Hatton and the f*****g Marxist Militants out of the Party". By 1983, The Great Leader had moved on politically and been recognised for the genius that we know and love today. Labour Party members in the north of England, well away from Hackney, begged him to represent them in the newly formed constituency of Sedgefield.

"I'm disappointed that my step-daughter is marrying beneath herself"Despite his maturing political views, his General Election literature endorsed the absurd left-wing policies with which the Party was saddled in the early 1980s.

He called for Britain to leave the EEC (although he had told his selection conference that he personally favoured continuing membership). He also supported unilateral nuclear disarmament, being a member of CND (although he often commented on the importance of the arms industry to UK employment).

Despite the party's national landslide defeat, The Great Leader swept into office as a result of his principled political position and the not entirely invisible campaign support provided by Coronation Street sex star Elsie Tanner, who subsequently became Tony's mother-in-law.

I won't linger on the many wonderful achievements of Tony during "the wilderness years".

Protect British jobs and scrap TridentVote for the socialist anti-war candidateThey include removing Clause 4, establishing Labour as the party of the free market, embarrassing Neil Pillock, attacking City traders along the lines of Jesus overturning the tables of money-lenders, destroying the closed shop and supporting gay rights within the Party apparatus. These and other policies led to the transformation of the old, socialist party into the sparkling New Labour Party.

Today we celebrate ten years of that wonderful new Party. And tomorrow the masses will flood out into the streets (or at least those who have not already flooded to their local post boxes) to demonstrate their love for that new Party.

So, what has been achieved in these ten glorious years?

Far be it for me to steal the thunder of the next Glorious Leader of the Labour Party and the Country. Gordon Brown has answered the question far more eloquently than I ever could, so I will leave you with The New Leader's words from his press statement of this morning. My final comment to you all is - Get out there on Thursday and show us what you truly think of New Labour! Remember our 1997 song - "Things Can Only Get Better". It's as true now as it was then!

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when..."Thank God it's nearly all over. I've waited bloody ages for this and at last my turn is about to come. Some people just don't know when it's time to move on. When historians look back on Tony Blair’s ten years as Prime Minister, they will look back on some of the most memorable achievements in our post-war history. I think first of us dumping our age old relationship with the Democratic Party and standing shoulder to shoulder with the governing Republicans. F**k principle - it's power that really matters. As Tony once told Michael Foot, there's no point having principles if you're not in power, so get real and swap Hampstead Heath for Downing Street.

I think of July two years ago, when a Greek representative voted by mistake for Paris instead of Madrid, with the result that we won the damned Olympics and £10 billion worth of debt to go with it. Still, at least I won't be in the Treasury when the bill has to be paid. I think of how so much that Tony had worked for years turned to tragedy in the space of a few minutes on July 7, and how we've managed to alienate almost every Muslim in Britain since.

I think of how we seized on the death of Princess Diana as an opportunity to feed off her popularity, claimed credit for the successful peace initiative of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland and made so much vacuous noise about reaching a permanent settlement between Israel and Palestine. And I think how the young Tony Blair said in his 1997 election victory speech: "Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war" and promptly sent our Armed Forces to Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Look at me. I'm the Prime Minister. Me. Not you. Me."I think of all the economic achievements which I have been responsible for and for which he has claimed the credit: the minimum wage, a million new homeowners, record numbers in work, millions of children and pensioners lifted out of absolute poverty, a decade of unprecedented stability and growth, and more nurses, teachers and police officers filling in forms and wondering how they will ever afford a mortgage than ever before. And on the social front we have reversed Margaret Thatcher's policy of "Me, me, me!" and replaced it with a caring and compassionate society.

I am most proud of our greatest achievement - making the rich so wealthy that those lifted out of absolute poverty are now relatively far worse off that they were when we came to power. A successful economy needs entrepreneurs to act as role models and we've created more role models than ever before. Wealthy people in Britain have never had it so good, with the number of billionaires rising from 54 to 68 during the past year and the country’s richest 1,000 increasing their fortunes by 20% to almost £360 billion. The past decade has been a golden age for the rich, with the wealth of the top 1,000 today representing a 263% jump over the past 10 years. Poor people should look at these excellent examples and strive harder to emulate them.

A smooth transition between two truly great friendsDespite inevitable ups and downs along the way, I am honoured to call Tony my oldest friend in politics. It's not true, of course, but saying it has earned me some honours. On that subject... no, I think I'll keep quiet about cash for honours.

Tony and I have worked hard to create a Britain that is stronger, fairer and more prosperous than that bright morning back in 1997 when Tony first walked up Downing Street — a Britain which can hold its head up high in the world. It's a shame that we have failed in so many of these objectives. Still, as soon as he shoves off I can get on with the poison chalice job.

5 comments:

angel thighs said...

Politics can be such a yawn!

But darhlings, one just adores the "Just arrived from Paris!" range of clothing. Particularly the glorious matching "his 'n' hers" designer label sweats from Paul Staines at Asda.

And wasn't Paul once a ship mate of John Prescott and reached the heady heights of Able Seaman. I think you should credit him with his full title.

What other accoutrement would a member of New Labour dream of sporting on their clothing?

Anonymous said...

Change the record!

Luke Akehurst said...

Tomorrow.

grimupnorth said...

Excellent!

Luke Akehurst said...

Do they have a lot of workers' co-operatives in Hebden Bridge? Not my idea of grim up north, unless of course all the yuppies we've recently housed in our new luxury apartment blocks in Hackney are the same ones who used to live in Fairtrade village.