Why Did New Labour Die?

Peter Hyman’s article about the failure of New Labour is fascinating mostly for what it cannot bring itself to say. The financial collapse of 2007-8 merits one mention:

“Far from the economic crisis destroying Brown’s premiership, it actually saved it. It gave him a purpose. Without it, having achieved his life’s ambition, his premiership would have fizzled out before it had started; a sparkler with no sparkle.”

Note the choice of words here. In Hyman’s piece the smoothly technical ‘economic crisis’ hyperlinks to ‘financial crisis’ on the Guardian site, a form of words that comes dangerously close to describing what happened.

More seriously, Hyman doesn’t seem to realise the extent to which the crash destroyed New Labour’s pretensions to economic competence. To say that it saved Brown’s premiership by giving him something to do is, to put it politely, to confuse a detail with the big picture.

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