Notes From the Margins…

Say Goodbye to Luke and Dan

  • January 17, 2012
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If ever I forget why New Labour was such a hollow and amoral rightwing project, there is always someone out there to remind me.   It might be the Great Man himself, still effortlessly serving God and Mammon and raking in the millions while bringing  peace to the Middle East.   Or his equally grasping wife,   currently involved in a £65 million project to open a chain of private health clinics in UK supermarkets, which according to the Follow Health blog ‘is taking advantage of the coalition Government’s plans to open up the health market to private competition.’

You have to admire the chutzpah, even if you can’t imagine Nye Bevan giving her a high five.   Then there is  Alastair Campbell the Moralist, pontificating on the decline of journalistic standards and the absence of compassion in the tabloid press to the Leveson Inquiry.    And apart from such luminaries, there the lesser moths who once hovered in the Blairite flame, some of whom have taken advantage of the Miliband Sucks bandwagon to raise New Labour’s tattered flag or leave the party altogether.

One of them is Luke Bozier,  political consultant, entrepreneur and former e-Campaigns Manager for the Labour Party, who has just announced his decision to join the Conservatives. In  a blog post  Bozier explains that he joined the Labour Party five years ago because he was attracted by Blair’s ‘pro-business attitude and a commitment to reforming our creaking public services’.

Now unfortunately, Blair’s successors have turned their backs on this noble vision, and Bozier can no longer remain amongst them:

I despair, because I love this country and I care deeply about making public services better. About dismantling the traps in our bloated welfare system. About projecting confidence on the world stage. About the deficit and debt. I no longer wish to be associated with Labour’s ludicrous attitudes to education reform or its dire mismanagement of the economy.

Luckily our patriot has found a government that loves his country  as much as he does:

It’s Cameron’s Conservatives who are being fiscally responsible, doing the hard work needed to put the economy back on track. His party is taking the steps needed to improve our schools, our welfare system and to invest in new infrastructure like HS2. His party is instituting the regulatory reforms so desperately needed to allow private enterprise, the engine of the recovery, to flourish.  Those reforms are social justice. And social justice is why I entered politics.

I don’t know much about Luke Bozier, but somehow I doubt that someone who joined Labour after the Iraq war and who equates Cameronism with ‘social justice’ really cared too much about it in the first place.  In fact virtually every word of this cri de coeur rings hollow, from its outrage at the UK’s  ‘bloated’ public services or that priceless goal of ‘projecting confidence on the world stage’ – an objective which to both Blair and Cameron usually means waging war somewhere.

Bozier’s volte face appears to be relatively recent, unless he was already contemplating it last November when he co-authored a piece for Labour List to launch the Labour’s Business website, whose aim is to place ‘enterprise at the heart of Labour politics in the 21st century’ .   Flushed with can-do spirit, Bozier and his fellow-author argued that ‘we don”t believe that the Tories are the natural party of enterprise & business; in fact, it is in Labour’s interest and it should be at the heart of Labour values in this century to promote and support self-employment and entrepreneurship.’

The post went on to argue that:

Our century puts the “means of production” in the hands of individuals what could be more progressive, more empowering, more Labour than the opportunity to take control of one”s own economic future.

So the ‘means of production’ are to be placed in the ‘hands of individuals’ and that’s ‘progressive’?    Unfortunately there were – and are – many Luke Boziers in the Labour Party and the Conservatives, who have transformed words like ‘progressive’, ’empowering’ or ‘reform’ into empty catchphrases and cool brand names to promote a political agenda that is essentially neoliberal, pro-City, pro-privatisation and pro-war.

Such men – and women – are so similar to each other that they are easily able to jump ship and reinvent themselves with a minimum of discomfort.  Take Dan Hodges, another exiled disciple from the temple of Blair, who has made a seamless journey from the New Statesman to the Daily Telegraph, where he can now be found writing blogs with titles like ‘Everyone’s laughing at the left‘ and ‘Iran: Why we need a Start the War coalition’.

You’re not going to find too many Telegraph readers who are going to disagree with such sentiments.    But what the hell was someone with views like this doing in the Labour Party in the first place?    It isn’t surprising that Hodges and Bozier were friends, and now Hodges has  defended his mate  in the Telegraph on the grounds that:

Those who criticise leaders or policies or political positions that are clearly leading their party to ruin aren”t traitors. I actually think they are the real heroes. Turning against the tribe takes greater courage than marching silently alongside it. What Luke did was wrong. But it certainly wasn”t cowardly.

Hodges clearly would like his readers to admire such bravery as much as he does himself, but I really can’t join in the admiration.  And I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t take much courage to turn against a party that you regarded as  a political hotel or a career move.

Such men might be opportunists, but that doesn’t make them traitors either.  For the fact that they believe that Gordon Brown represented ‘the left’ or that Ed Miliband’s tepidly left-of-centre agenda is ‘leading their party to ruin’  merely demonstrates to me that are Thatcherites in social-democratic drag who have returned to their natural home.

So let’s give two cheers for Lucky Luke and Dissident Dan, hollow heroes in a party they helped to hollow out,  cardboard iconoclasts who stood out against the unquestioning tribe, and then hope that the Labour Party can one day attract people who really are worthy of respect.





  1. Keith

    18th Jan 2012 - 6:28 pm

    You write very well and I hope you or some one exposes these sort of people.

    • Matt

      18th Jan 2012 - 6:57 pm

      Thanks Keith.

  2. michael wood

    26th Jan 2012 - 9:30 am

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for referencing our article about Cherie Blair’s health centres. We will be doing bits and pieces over the coming weeks and months. Would it be ok to include us in your blogroll?


    • Matt

      26th Jan 2012 - 10:37 am

      Hi Michael. I’m afraid not. I do support your work and I will certainly reference and link to your blog again in the future, but health/NHS issues aren’t my main focus on this site.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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