For a party so opposed to hereditary peers, Labour is surprisingly dynastic

Home Affairs IFor a party hellbent on removing the hereditary element from the House of Lords, Labour is a surprisingly dynastic party. Euan Blair, 29-year-old son of the three-term Labour PM, has been touted as the next candidate for the safe seat of Bootle, Merseyside, presumably on the understanding the  incumbent Joe Benton, 81, does the decent thing and takes back his vow to fight it again next year.

It follows similar bids by the progeny of John Prescott, 43-year-old David, who vied for his father’s old seat in Hull East and, this time round, Greenwich and Woolwich, both unsuccessfully. Jack Straw’s son Will, 32, was more successful, having been selected to fight Rossendale and Darwen in 2015.

Not for nothing did former Labour and GMB official Dan Hodges describe them as “quite an exclusive club, the so called ‘red princes and princesses,’ whose parents are MPs or former MPs, and who will be contesting seats in 2015.”

In a more openly hereditary development, Labour peers are reportedly plotting to bring Tony Benn’s son Stephen, aka the 3rd Viscount Stansgate, into the Lords the next time one of the party’s handful of hereditary peers kicks the bucket.

Then there is of course David and Ed Miliband, Angela and Maria Eagle, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey and Tony Benn’s younger son Hilary. A list compiled by the House of Commons library shows 75 related Conservative MPs past and present (going back four generations) to Labour’s 55 but a keen eye will notice the Tories’ relations tend to be more historical than Labour’s contemporary dynasties.

There is also the fact that, in purely empirical terms, there have been more Conservative MPs elected throughout the 20th century than Labour, though this is all by the by when one considers the Labour party is supposed to be against the hereditary principle; the Conservatives are not.

But heredity isn’t exactly unknown on the left. The ruling Kim dynasty in Communist North Korea, for example, has produced no less than three rulers since 1948, ‘Madame Mao’ very briefly followed her mass-murdering husband as primo of the People’s Republic of China and Fidel Castro’s brother Raúl very smoothly took over from his brother in 2006.

Perhaps, as commentators said of the Canadian Liberals in their recent resurrection of Trudeaumania, a barrage of remakes and reruns is the only logical course when a party has finally run out of ideas. This is now happening to Labour 12 months before a general election as their “cost of living crisis” gamble is slowly demolished by the gathering pace of wage increases relative to inflation.

The fact is Labour, and by extension the left’s, claims to be the movement of meritocracy are utterly spurious. Socialism’s natural nepotism is an accurate mirror to its policies of privilege over opportunity, stagnation over dynamism and personalities over policy. And, with Gordon Brown’s closest advisors occupying the positions of Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Chancellor, this country could do without the latest disastrous rerun.

Comments are closed.