In 1997 after the arrival of the Blair babes a joke circulated widely in political circles.
“What is the difference between a Blair babe and a shopping trolley?” went the popular jest. “A shopping trolley has a mind of its own” came the reply.
It was unfair then, for many of the men newly elected for Labour in 1997 did what the Blair babes did. They stuck to the pager messages, they repeated the inane and misleading Nu Labour soundbites, and refused to answer any difficult questions, just like their female colleagues.Maybe they believed they had abolished boom and bust and had made the Bank of England independent. Maybe now they understand they did not. Rather they created a worse boom and bust, and left the Bank floundering without the power and information it used to have to run the money markets properly.They certainly failed to provide any intelligent criticism of the executive, or to represent the needs of their constituents to keep tax and spending down to sensible levels.
Today it is some of the Blair babes who are leading the charge for a proper debate about Labour’s values and the direction of the government. They are clearly hoping to flush out a “big beast” to challenge the PM. In the meantime they are out to destablise him.
Gordon Brown will understand only too well what their game is. It is after all the game his “friends” used to destablise Blair. If you can get enough people to resign from office, aided by enough backbenchers to call for change, the position of the Leader eventually becomes untenable and he may decide to go. It worked with Blair. I doubt if it will work so easily with Brown, who still seems to want this job he has spent his adult life working to achieve. Unless the mutineers can gain more numbers quickly, this rebellion will peter out and show that Labour cannot run a Leadership election, let alone a successful General Election.
The sadness of all this is it is massive diversion from tackling the real issues of the Credit Crunch, the sterling crisis and the government financial mess. Indeed, it probably makes it more difficult for the PM to tackle these things, as his MP critics probably want him to spend and tax more, rather than understanding that it is because he has taxed, wasted and borrowed so much that we are in the economic hole we are now in.