1. THE WHOLE "NEW LABOUR" THING
Once upon a time in a more gracious age, the Labour Party had a nice, smiley, avowedly Christian leader. Then John Smith died and there was a leadership contest. Maddened by years of opposition, the party went for the "safest" choice, the one who made Beckett and Prescott look like Slipknot.
Having got in Tone set about turning the Workers' Party into a Clause 4-less middle-right Daily Mail-wooing sorta set-up. There was still a widespread fear/hope (delete according to taste) that once he reached no. 10 he would rip away the Blandman mask, cackling madly, to reveal his true self. As we now know, he eventually did just that -- and the true self was even more timid and reactionary than we'd suspected. But by then the party we once loved had gone.
2. THE CONTROL FREAKERY/STUBBORNNESS
You're going to get what Nanny wants for you, you know. You are. The Dome. The trains. The tube. Those who resist will be eliminated. Look at Ken Livingstone. Drummed out for standing for Mayor. Opposed by Frank Dobson (you remember him. Nice man. Probably doing panto now).
Tone doesn't feel comfortable with Ken's type. He's much happier in the company of policy wonks, the sort who don't have to be elected.
A brief anecdote while we're here. The last time I spoke to a senior member of the Labour Party was a few years ago, just before the historic defeat of Majorism. I wrote to Jack Cunningham (remember him? Etc) to complain about how long it took to get the answer to a research question (the wrong answer, incidentally) from the party offices. I was rung up at work by Dr Jack's PA, and basically told off for bothering him.
3. THE NEW TORYISM
New Labour famously committed itself early on to continuing Tory policies-just the way to reward the voters for finally kicking them out. If you'd said when I were a lad that a 'Labour' premier would one day be employing Chris Woodhead to savage the teaching profession (what? A recruitment crisis? Well, I never) and chumming up to Silvio Berlusconi I'd have eaten my cloth cap.
And the bloody mania for PPP. And the attacks on greedy public sector workers for wanting to earn a sum equivalent to one-tenth the price of a flat. And most especially the abject hero-worship of That Bloody Woman, when a more apposite response would be to reach for the wooden stake and the mallet.
4. THE POODLE OF POWER
...the hero-worship being, as these things often are, closely allied to a terrible weakness for those richer and more pampered than himself. Once Labour only bowed to the needs of the Brothers, and quite right too. Now Tone prefers the CBI, and rushes round the globe, fighting 'President' Bush's enemies single-handed (as soon as Colin Powell tells him who they are).
5. THE HAMMER OF THE HUMBLE
Conversely, Britain's mini-President feels only pitying contempt for the electorate. He dislikes going through Parliament (though it's fine to reconvene it for important stuff, like saying farewell to the Queen Mum). Otherwise it's business as usual for those who expect to maintain their accustomed privileges (eg. hunting-vote to ban it as often as you like, he'll make sure it's kept going to avoid upsetting the chaps who really count). But the little people who'd like better schools and hospitals can either pay for them privately or forget it. Their kids can save to go to university-forget about grants, focus on your responsibilities as a stakeholder.
I've never understood why people never pick up the obvious point here. Tone and his missus must be pulling down a good-sized fortune between them (precisely how much seems to be difficult to establish). Leo and co are never going to have to worry about waiting on a trolley, or stacking shelves to finish their exams. So where's the incentive? Stick any member of the cabinet in a 'public' facility for a week-- then there'd be changes.
6. THE PHILOSOPHY WITH A HOLE IN IT
After Tone had kicked away a century of social and economic thought, he discovered there was nothing to fill the gap with. Famously he never knows what he believes in until he's seen that day's polling figures. When asked to tell us his principles he produces odd disjointed sentences which occasionally contain words like fairness. One infers he is some kind of compassionate conservative, who sincerely believes that moral capitalism is a viable entity. But he won't commit himself. The Labour Party website  likes to pretend things have always been this way, as though Keir Hardie and his mates were chiefly motivated by a concern that the kids down the blacking factory weren't pulling their weight as citizens. Yeah, sure.
Are there icebergs ahead for SS Britannia? The captain can't tell you; he hasn't set today's course yet.
 see "our values" under "policies" at www.labour.org.uk -- odd that it's not co.uk, yet.
© Mike Morris 2002