The Berlin Wall, the DDR and New Labour

I remember twenty years ago watching as the people of the Socialist paradise surged across Checkpoint Charlie into the bright lights of the West, as the 28 year old Berlin Wall was breached. It was but part of a process that began with the Hungarians taking down the fence, and continued with the Velvet Revolution in Wencelas Square.
The fall of the Berlin Wall may not not have been the triumph of capitalism, but it was the collapse of communism. It represented the end of the era, started in 1917, that saw the deaths of  100 million people at the hands of their own governments in the name of a false utopia. The physical wall, that seemed so impenetrable, was felled with pickaxes and chains. The political system, buttressed by a vast system of informers and secret  police, seem to crumble away even more easily. But the we share some elements of  that repressive  regime share today in this country. In the DDR

1. Everyone had to carry ID cards and constantly present them when asked.
2. A “democratic” country where parliament held no power.
3. Where the official properganda differed from reality.
4. Where every aspect of life was tightly regulated.
5. Arbitary arrest and detention.
6. Endless form filling and checking on every aspect of people’s lives. And where that form filling served as a huge hinderance, but no useful purpose outside of the bureaucratic machine.

It is worthwhile to remember that a moderate socialist party contains elements of the authoritarian left of the Soviet bloc. Their instincts are that only government solutions are the valid, and that private initiative cannot be trusted. That the individual owes everything to the state, and errant views are by definition not just wrong but dangerous.

Whilst we remember died trying to escape the suffocation and those who were persecuted for the slightest protest, it is also worth a history lesson in how the mass of people lead dreary, impoverished lives, made worse by officialdom.


Thanks to John Redwood, who stimulated my thoughts.



Labour Down to 120 seats in 2010?

Could Labour really be reduced to 120 seat’s at the next general election? Not impossible, but would hand the Conservatives a poison chalice

Jackie Ashley claims in the Guardian.

“Some Labour people may think I’m sounding too gloomy, but those who have been privy to recent private polling are a lot more than gloomy. This suggests that Labour could return to the Commons with just 120 MPs or thereabouts, taking the party back to 1930s territory. As ministers look for jobs to keep themselves going after politics, a Miliband move to Europe looks sensible.”

Most polling data based on even swing would give Labour over 200 seats, with the Conservatives getting a majority of 80 to 100. But  this result may be at the extreme end, but should not be unexpected. Compared with the Conservatives in 1997
1. Labour are polling lower in the polls.

2. There is greater de-seated resentment. Labour are not just out of touch, they have

3. Gordon Brown seems less capable than John Major at the job. Furthermore, he shows it. He is nervous, repetitive and cliché-ridden.

In 1997, many voted to punish the Tories. Next year it will be voting to punish Labour. It is not something a Conservative should revel in, as Labour has bred a deep distrust in politics in general (through their spinning and ignoring parliament) along with decimating the nation’s finances. So the Conservatives will have to rebuild trust whilst pushing through deeply unpopular policies.

A word of caution. Although ConservativeHome and Politicalbetting both recognize Jackie Ashley as being close to Labour and a reliable source, the comment is made in a long article on how the Europe question could damage the Conservatives. So maybe we could have a Lib-Dem government?