Without Michael Jackson There Would Be No Tap
After a weekend spent lounging around in the sun reading an introduction to Martin Heidegger (don't ask) and watching Glastonbury highlights on TV (do ask - and incidently, what was it with all the Loyalist flags flying about all over the place?), I am not really in the best position to comment on what is going on politically in Britain and internationally (though I did gather a much loved icon from the world of music died last week - as did this chap - and that Wimbledon is underway). Hopefully I will have a better idea and understanding after this weekend's Marxism festival (while there is always good old Lenin's Tomb).
But briefly surmising the headlines, I see New Labour are still defiantly insistent on making the working class pay for the crisis of capitalism by removing unemployment benefit from under-25 year olds deemed not to be working hard enough at finding a job - while silmulaneously freezing student grants and loans (though not tuition fees). There was a time when a threat to cut unemployment benefit would bring down a Labour Government through internal rebellion - but the Party has long stopped worrying about such things and learnt to love not simply Peter Mandleson, but also fraud and corruption around expenses going to the highest level of government as well as bailouts for bankers that have to be paid for somehow.
Still, if New Labour can't provide bread, at least it is providing circuses. Lets not worry about the billions to be spent renewing Trident nuclear submarine or the killing fields of Afghanistan - lets get all nostalgic for the old imperial spirit and kick back and enjoy the spectacle of 'Armed Forces Day'! Let's party like its 1945!
Tony Blair is doing his bit to raise people's spirits too. At a time when most people are worried about whether they will have one job at the end of the week, Blair is bravely leading the fight for the right to work. Though Blair already has so many jobs it is difficult to keep count (there was bringing peace to the Middle East, saving the planet from climate change, ending world poverty, as well as advising the bankers JP Morgan, Zurich Insurance, and running the Blair Faith Foundation thing, but I am sure I have forgotten something) he is now bravely battling to also be the next European president regardless. As the Guardian notes 'the Briton's main assets are name and brand recognition, international contacts, and the absence, so far, of any serious rival for the post.' There is just one minor problem which might stop Blair adding yet one more job to his CV - most people in Europe, for some odd reason, associate the 'Blair brand' with lying and committing war crimes. Oh yeah, and also being a complete and utter wanker.
Meanwhile, Ed Balls, currently New Labour's schools secretary but also the man who dreams of being a future Labour leader, is doing his bit to get people to smile through the recession with his own distinct brand of political comedy. Not only was Balls-by-name recently caught out putting through Mark Steel's classic Reasons to be Cheerful on his expenses, Balls-by-nature has now also come up with the cheery idea of introducing a five year MOT 'license' for weeding out incompetent professionals. Which profession in British society is it that has most failed in its duty, that is full to the brim of the most shady and sinister characters? Which profession is the weakest link that most needs the introduction of a five year license to practice? Greedy bankers? City traders and speculators? No, underpaid and overworked teachers of course! Brilliant stuff Balls!
The only possible 'reason to be cheerful' will be if New Labour's anti-working class policies and measures such as these fail to get onto the statute book because this utterly useless Brown government fails to renew its own 'license to govern' when it comes up for renewal next year (and long before reaching the five years in office mark). Those wishing to help build something new from the ashes of New Labour, a socialist phoenix that can rise from the flames, should join those protesting at the Labour Party conference, Sunday 27 Sept, in Brighton at the demonstration called by the UCU and NUJ, supported by the Fight for the Right to Work campaign.