Never mind those six pledges - here are six reasons why you shouldn't vote Labour

Labour behaves as if it has won already, and there is a moral imperative ensuring that no other party ever takes power
Click to follow
The Independent Online

So now there are six New Labour new election pledges. The last one on immigration was obviously speedily put together to confound the Tories' beating up on voiceless migrants and asylum-seekers, and to sideline the xenophobe's pop idol, Kilroy-Silk. Using US-style election gimmickry, Tony Blair slicked through Battersea, Kettering, Leeds/Bradford, Shipley and Gateshead in eight and a half hours.

So now there are six New Labour new election pledges. The last one on immigration was obviously speedily put together to confound the Tories' beating up on voiceless migrants and asylum-seekers, and to sideline the xenophobe's pop idol, Kilroy-Silk. Using US-style election gimmickry, Tony Blair slicked through Battersea, Kettering, Leeds/Bradford, Shipley and Gateshead in eight and a half hours.

The helicopter was revolutionary red; the tie a pale, conservative, plain blue; the smile super-confident. The message - the Labour leadership is behaving as if it haswon already, as if there is an indisputable moral imperative which ensures that no other party ever enters Downing Street.

True Labour devotees (poor things) are like cult members, unable to break free even if their convictions and social democratic values have been torn to shreds by Blair and co. They obediently deliver their votes because the alternatives are so scary. Or they dream that one day the loyalty will pay off and destiny will deliver them to Gordon Brown - another hopeless delusion.

Even I, with my jaded, sometimes prejudiced views, am happy to accept and applaud Blair and Brown for the difference they have made to childcare provision and for bringing in and then increasing the minimum wage. Poor, inadequate families are being helped back into a fulfilling life by some good policies. Children's rights and racial equality measures are now centre stage. Prosperity is growing, as are aspirations, and the increases in public spending are showing some results.

I do believe that the real threats to security are very difficult to deal with and that good intelligence and low- profile policing have helped to keep us sane and safe. And the apology to the Guildford victims of state injustice showed Tony Blair at his very best.

But the negatives are overwhelming. The sordid pandering to small nationalisms, and cheap, mean populism, senseless multicultural policies such as the promotion of separate education, a foreign policy which has tied us perilously to the wildest ambitions of the US neo-cons, provoking needless antipathy the world over, targeting and alienating blameless groups of citizens in Britain. We go on - the stoking of panic to facilitate draconian laws, the disgraceful demeaning of objectors and dissenters, the double-think and double-talk which passes for a drugs strategy, the endless sell-outs to big business, our collusion with torture since 11 September 2001, the blood we have shed in Iraq and the war crimes for which we will not be held accountable.

This country has become more coarse, vicious, selfish, drunk, and openly racist in the last seven years. In a new book, The Moral State We're In, Rabbi Julia Neuberger poses this sombre challenge: "Unless we rethink our social obligations and reassess the issue of trust, we will become even more cynical, even more atomistic, ever more individualistic - and there really will be no such thing as society."

It is not in our national interest to have an elected dictatorship which rides roughshod over its own members in Parliament, over all the institutions which are set up to balance out power in a democracy, to have a Prime Minister addicted to power.

The smart journalist John Harris, once a loyalist ("I voted Labour, that is who I was, Labour, Labour, Labour") now asks in a polemic, So Who Do We Vote For Now?

I will vote Liberal Democrat, even though they still appear too flavourless and at times meek. Yesterday, I met Charles Kennedy, who was on Sky News, and he was tough, focused and impressively resolute against deals with Blair should the election substantially reduce the government majority. A hung parliament would be a good thing for all the parties, and for this nation.

So here - in the interests of real democracy - are six progressive reasons not to vote Labour in the next election, even if you have forever supported this once great party, as I did, with enthusiasm. The smooth operators who wrote the New Labour pledges personalised each one to get to "normal" families, using language accessible to Warwick woman. It's a good trick. So let us try to emulate the style.

No 1. Law and order

Your family and loved ones could be forced to live under house arrest on the order of a politician without any reason and without due process. Concerned legal and human rights experts, politicians, editors and intellectuals are united in condemning the bossy instincts of this Government, which doesn't care about the fundamental principles of our society.

No 2. Cronyism and corruption

Your Government today nakedly promotes nepotism and favouritism, and has a record of dealing favourably with dodgy characters who happen to be rich. Your children should by now be living in a fair meritocracy. They are not.

No 3. Media manipulation

Our families are being fed a diet of government propaganda through compliant journalists. Those who challenge this subtle state control over information do so at their peril - think what happened to Greg Dyke, and Piers Morgan. And be afraid, very afraid.

No 4. Blood for votes

Are you happy that you were lied to and taken to war in Iraq, that billions of pounds have been spent, and thousands killed in your name? Would you be happy to lose your children so democracy can be imposed by force? Bush is now eyeing up Iran for a similar kind of mission. Do you think Blair is man enough to say no?

No 5. Incitement to hatreds

You do not want your country to hate refugees and migrants, some of whom are your friends and lovers. You sent money for the tsunami disaster and feel a bond with the deprived of the world. As the fourth richest country in the world we could be doing as much as the poorest - Tanzania for example. Labour wants to punish these vulnerable folk and exploit the needy.

No 6. Buying votes with low taxes

Don't trust politicians who promise to lower taxes and increase personal wealth. A good society cannot flourish unless there is money to pay for public services and spaces. Our public facilities are in terminal decline under New Labour.

Forgive the exaggerations, asides, snide remarks, innuendo, outlandish claims and small inaccuracies. It is election time, open season. Besides, each one of these disincentives has serious policy implications, and however hard I try I cannot match the nasty jousts and spinning and scandalous posters and lies and smears we are now to suffer until 5 May, when Blair believes he will once more be carried into Downing Street by a grateful population. And sceptics like me will say they should have known better.

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

Comments