New Labour and Fascism, #2/5

A handful of rightists have been keen to emphasise the political parallels between today’s centre-left and yesteryear’s fascist right on the one hand, and today’s post-fascist right on the other. An example of each:

1. Michael Diboll wrote an article for the Spectator (27.11.1999, “Unite against the Centre”) which discussed New Labour in light of Oswald Mosley’s programme for Britain. He pointed in particular to the Government’s belief in a strong executive led by a handful of powerful ministers grouped around the Leader, to the marginalisation of both the Cabinet and the Parliament, the increased authority of technocrats, and to the legitimation of government decisions through the use of periodic referenda (the referendum being, in Clement Attlee’s famous phrase, a device “for demagogues and dictators”).

2. And on 22 February 2000 a mischievous Jörg Haider published an article in the Daily Telegraph — widely reported around the world — which drew attention to the substantial overlap between his own governing philosophy and that of Mr Blair. Both New Labour and the FPÖ, he wrote, had leaders who “have reformed their parties and have freed them from the old ideological ballast”, who are searching “for a new sense of community in the globalised world of today” and whose government promised equality of opportunity, low taxation, a tough law and order policy, welfare state reform and a “community-oriented politics”. Both countries’ governments wanted strict control over their own national borders, and on this issue Haider noted that, “If Blair is not extreme, then nor is Haider”, for “the latter is arguably less tough on asylum seekers and immigrants than Labour and Blair!”

Neither the Spectator nor Mr Haider are necessarily reliable guides in these matters, however. (An anonymous Downing Street spokesperson called the comparison between Mr Blair and Mr Haider “risible”.) So what else, if anything, might there be to say?

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