Through the Looking Glass:A Dissenter Inside New Labour
As New Labour prepares the ground for a second term in government, Liz Davies provides a compelling insider’s account of the annihilation of the party’s internal democracy. For two years prior to the party conference of September 2000, Davies sat on the highest body of the party, its National Executive Committee. From this unique viewpoint she reveals in riveting detail the extent to which cynical doublethink has come to permeate the party’s leadership.
Focusing particularly on the frenzied attempts to prevent Ken Livingston from becoming London’s next mayor, Davies details how Blair and his acolytes sought to manipulate every detail of the NEC’s proceedings, repeatedly blocking open discussion and the counting of votes. With elected representatives rendered powerless in NEC meetings, full-time officials briefed selected journalists on what was being decided, often hours before the meeting itself took place.
Davies chronicles Blair’s evident discomfort in the face of close questioning at the meetings, and his impatience with even the mildest dissent. She exposes the hollowness of John Prescott’s Old Labour credentials as well as the relentless manipulation of Margaret McDonagh, the party’s hard-nosed General Secretary. She watches aghast as trade union representatives repeatedly defy positions adopted by their members, and while special interests, notably those representing business, twist policies to suit their needs.
Employing a redoubtable independence of mind, as well as verbatim notes kept in each of the meetings, Davies provides an electrifying picture of the systematic corruption of a major political institution.