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  Ministry of the living dead: The strange death of Labour England
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ContributorCraverguy 
Last EditedCraverguy  Oct 17, 2009 11:25pm
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CategoryAnalysis
AuthorGeoffrey Wheatcroft
News DateThursday, October 15, 2009 06:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIf there was a central theme of British political history in the first half of the 20th century, it was the rise of the Labour Party; the theme of the second half looked very much like its decline and fall. After the high-water mark of the 1945-51 government, the party held office for only 11 out of the next 46 years, and by 1992, when the Tories won a fourth consecutive election, it was possible to think that Labour was finished, like the Liberals before it. Then came a miraculous recovery, an election landslide followed by two more victories; so that, by early November this year, Labour will have been in office for twice as long as the Attlee government.

And yet it has all turned to ashes. The government today is in office but not in power; a ministry of the living dead. Most of the blame is now heaped on Gordon Brown. Many people who once acclaimed him as hero and saviour have savagely turned against him, and it's true that he has bungled one problem after another - from Northern Rock and the election-that-wasn't to Lockerbie and the cuts-that-aren't-cuts.

All this might seem to leave Brown's predecessor looking much better. But could it be that Tony Blair, ostensibly Labour's most successful leader ever, succeeded at the cost of morally eviscerating the party and inflicting the kind of damage from which it will never recover? Blair likes to say "history will be my judge". Maybe history will judge him as the man who destroyed the Labour Party - but with the party a willing accomplice. In the past, Labour had excuses for failure; this time it is ­dying by its own hand.
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