The decline and fall of New Labour in Britian is getting little attention here, but it is highly suggestive for the electoral prospects of a certain political party closer to home. PM Gordon Brown, who came in to refurbish the tattered Labour brand after the unctious Reverend Blair had delivered one sermon too many, has shouldered the public’s disgust with Labour for dragging Britain into the Iraq quicksand while simultaneously stumble-bumbling spectacularly as the economy crashes and burns.
Despite the challenges of deciphering British politics, yet another special election debacle Thursday in one of Labour’s safest districts suggests that the Labourites are heading for a shellacking that will make them nostalgic for Lady Thatcher in her commoner days. Supposedly, it’s the economy, there as here, that has replaced the Iraq war as voters’ top reported concern.
But I’m skeptical that the two can be so easily separated. If the Blairite poodles hadn’t scampered into Bush’s arms so enthusiastically and ruined their party’s credibility in the pursuit of reconquest, they might have retained a smidgen of support from people willing to believe the current meltdown at home wasn’t entirely Labour’s fault. But with Lawrence of Arabia being chased back out of the Middle East, Brown the accountant can’t peddle his actuarial tables to anyone.
Likewise, George W Bush, the Xerxes of his day, heads home in defeat to face the unhappy masses. When the grain harvest also fails, there’s not much left by way of residual support, ‘surge’ or no ‘surge’.