Yesterday saw the profoundly depressing spectacle of a huge swing to the Conservatives in the Norwich by-election. (Should that be "bye-bye election" since it signals how crushing Labour's defeat next year is likely to be?) The victorious candidate, Chloe Smith, was compared to Margaret Thatcher by a reporter interviewing her and she didn't even bother with the liberal doublespeak David Cameron has been using since he took over the Party to distance himself from that odious oligarch. She just smiled and looked rather flattered.
Blimey. If anybody compared me to Margaret Thatcher I'd probably punch them in the face. But times have changed, and the memory of the average citizen is short. I spoke to a thirty-year-old a few days ago who had no idea who Marlon Brando was. People vote anyway, thanks to capitalism's overwhelming victory over Christianity and socialism, for their own benefit and with little regard for the general well-being of the nation or the world. "There is no such thing as society" remember? Or they identify their own well-being with the world's: if my pockets are bulging, in other words, all must be well. As if money were even close to being the most important consideration when it comes either to personal happiness or national contentment. You might say it helps not being poor; but lucky you if you're not. There has never been a time in this country's history--particularly not under Margaret Thatcher--when one person didn't eat his bread at someone else's expense.
I can't blame the voters of Norwich, however, for turning away from Labour. Not from their own selfish, uninformed, historically amnesiac perspective anyway. Labour are a mess, and their leader is a figure of ridicule. Even when he tries to express passion he looks half-asleep. He is stubborn, arrogant and he's been wearing the clothes of the Conservative Party while talking the language of Labour for so long he doesn't seem to know what he believes anymore. I probably won't be voting Labour at the next election either, whether it helps the Conservative Party get one more seat or not, because I couldn't bring myself to commit an act of such wanton hypocrisy. Labour needs to be defeated so that it can get rid of the last of the New Labour brigade and clean the Cabinet out of all the spineless careerists and yes-men who've attached themselves to that crumbling old project for personal advancement. It needs to sit down dazed and bloodied and figure out what the hell it believes again, instead of stumbling on with its politer version of Thatcherism, which has only widened the gap between rich and poor and destroyed the social fabric of the nation anyway.
It's just a shame it didn't do that when Blair stepped down and there was still time to save Britain from five or ten years of David Cameron.