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March 18, 2006



Another couple of counterfactuals for you:

1. What if Kinnock had won in 1992?

2. Ignoring 1., what if John Smith hadn't died?

With 1. I can't imagine that the Tory party wouldn't have gone through the same post-Thatcherite cycle of self-destruction that they did post-1997, and I would have imagined that Kinnock would have lasted at least a full term if not two before the Tories got back in.

With 2. I would imagine something not completely unlike Blair's social programme to date, but a bit more focussed on the concrete rather than the ethereal. I doubt Smith would have engaged in the nonsensical foreign policy that we've seen with TB. I must try and dig out what Labour's policies were under Smith (and Kinnock for that matter).

i hope you get cancer™

Of course from Tony's point of view (and that of his ideological begetters and sponsors) the past nine years have been anything but wasted. The neo-liberal hegemony has been maintained if not strengthened, the forces of reaction supported and a once-in-a-generation opportunity for progressive politics successfully neutralised. Job done!


If Kinnock had got in, the ERM debacle would have happened on his watch, Labour would have lost public confidence in it's economic policies and the Tories would have got back in in 1997.

As for Smith, he'd have got in with a smaller majority, for a start. I think the major advantage Labour has over New Labour is that there are certain things they would not do because of who the party represents. So there wouldn't have been the worst excesses of Blairism that we've seen.

Of course, having a smaller majority might mean he'd be out by now. But maybe public appreciation of his wisdom in keeping Britain out of the Iraq war would have now ween him serving his fourth term, while the aggressive support for that conflict by his rival, the junior Minister Tony Blair, would have seen the ending of his leadership hopes and his exit from the parliamentary party:-)

Backword Dave

I think I disagree with your analysis in the first para of the last comment above. The decision on the ERM would have fallen to the Chancellor -- likely to have been Gordon Brown, who may have been a Eurosceptic even then. So I don't know. I also think that the Tories would have torn themselves apart pretty thoroughly in opposition (and even Kinnock would have had the sense to call the election in 1996 while they were still off-balance). But that's counter-factuals for you.

Backword Dave

Also, even if Labour had won in 92, the Neil Hamilton cash for questions row would still have happened. Hamilton had the 5th safest Tory seat in the country, so any putative rout is unlikely to have touched him. In opposition, he'd have less chance of promotion or of senior office -- so all the more reason to seek pecuniary gain elsewhere. There'd have been no Martin Bell to oust him in the next election either -- and Bell may have done the Tories some good, as their voters could think "It's Neil Hamilton who's rotten, not the party, and he's going."


I think (but can't be bothered to look up) it was William Burroughs rather than Saint Horace of Mencken who said:

"you can deal with anyone you like, but when you're talking to a Holy Joe, get it in writing. All the fine words and promises in the world don't mean a thing when he's got Jesus Christ himself whispering in is ear that it's OK to fuck you".


Dave - As I recally it was Labour Policy to enter the ERM at the time arranged. At that time, Labour were reverting from their anti-EU stance in the eighties, so going into ERM wads part of the modernist group identity, which included Brown.

d-sqaured - Sounds like Burroughs to me, though mencken did say something V similar in his account of the Gray/Snyder murder case in 1932. I might dig that out, now I come to think of it.


according to google it was WSB and the correct quote is:

"If you’re gonna do business with a religious son of a bitch.. GET IT IN WRITING. His word ain’t worth shit, not with the good Lord teaching him how to fuck you on the deal. "

Chris Williams

All this suggests a poem by Tim Turnbull, 'Fish':


Backword Dave

Jamie, you're right about Labour Party Policy, of course. I just find it very easy to imagine Gordon Brown saying, "No. We were mandated to enter the ERM when the time was right, and it isn't."


The Tories entered the ERM in October 1990, not at some point after the 1992 election. So the Labour decision would have been to stay in, or pull out. Given their attempt to win economic 'credibility' I can't really believe they would have pulled out, but I vaguely remember some revelation that they had a plan to devalue within the ERM.

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