For years New Labour has been told to stop its authoritarian agenda, with its Extradition Acts, ID cards, ISA, control orders, Digital Economy Acts and more, but they simply wouldn’t listen. They, as other governments around the world like Singapore’s, China’s, Russia’s and others believed liberty and free markets weren’t inexorably bound, and to an extent they were right. As long as most people are able to go about their simple basic tasks and to meet their basic wishes it has indeed appeared that most people were prepared at least to ignore the massive infringments on civil rights and attacks on human rights – just as long as they didn’t affect them.
Except New Labour has now been thrown out of power, admittedly for a number of reasons, but it’s authoritarian project must have played some small part, at least in not showing positives for voters to choose from positively; New Labour ran a thoroughly mendacious election narrative – fight for a fairer Britain (except we won’t treat whole swathes of people fairly at all). Now that David and Ed Miliband are running for the Labour leadership though, let’s take a look at their positions on this nasty little venture. Ed first:
Members of the public who feel the state is indifferent to them: faceless and unresponsive.
Public servants who felt that we didn’t value what they do and micro-managed too much.
And also on issues of civil liberties there was too much of a sense that we were casual when it came to the relationship of the state and the individual.
That needs to change.
It does indeed, and he was told as recently as February that it needed to change. But did the Labour manifesto (which he was responsible for) offer change? No. In fact his voting record shows he never wanted it to. ID cards, the Terrorism Act 2000 (with its insidious Section 44), voting against an investigation into the Iraq War and for ministers intervening in inquests – he was at the heart of the project to realign the relationship between the individual and the state. David though has legions of fans currently falling at his feet, and has said:
“New Labour was a reaction to the 1980s but it was trapped by the 1980s. Anyone who thinks that the future is about re-creating New Labour is wrong. I think we’ve got to use this period to decisively break with that. What I’m interested in is Next Labour.”
But he hasn’t suggested any wrongdoing by the Blair & Brown governments or even apologised for any. It’s unsurprising, because his voting record shows more or less the same (if not greater) commitment to the autoritarian nightmare from which we’re emerging as his younger brother’s. The elder Miliband is cruising on a cult of personality right now, which may or may not be deserved, but noone should be under any illusion about where his sympathies about civil liberties and human rights really lie. Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray alleges David is complicit in attempting to conceal New Labour’s true involvement in torture. Were that true you would really have to hope that his ‘Next’ Labour really did bear no resemblance to New Labour. We shall have to wait and see.