Willem Buiter absolutely nails what New Labour have become. It’s the perfect summation of everything that’s happened since 1997 in two paragraphs.
After even the most liberal-minded, open-government-committed party takes hold of the reins of government, it takes never more than a single term of office, four years - five at the most - before paranoia takes over. Disagreement becomes dissent, dissent becomes disloyalty, disloyalty becomes betrayal and betrayal becomes treason. The public interest merges seamlessly with the private interest of the incumbents. The state bureaucracy, where it has not been taken over by government loyalists on day one of the new administration, is gradually transformed into an arm of the government. Some formal checks and balances often remain, parliament and the courts among them, but they too are often feeble to begin with and weaken further as the term office of the incumbent government lengthens.
I have watched this process at work in the UK since I returned here in 1994. It was breath-taking and depressing to observe the transformation of New Labour after 1997, from the party of open government, human rights and civil liberties into an increasingly paranoid group of power-hogging and repressive political control freaks, who have done more damage to fundamental human rights in the past 11 years than any other (sequence of) government(s) in any comparable-length stretch of time since the Glorious Revolution. Fortunately, despite their worst intentions, they have not been very competent - a more competent government could have done much more damage to our freedom and civil liberties.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
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