By Frank Higgins
If you wanted to see the "Blairite Revolution" in British politics over the last ten years graphically illustrated, the place to go this week was the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, where the Tories held their annual conference.
The Guardian neatly summed up the present status of this party-one might almost say, rump-by comparing the numbers of stalls at the Labour, Liberal and Tory conferences (220, 94, 57 respectively).
Like some poor sod down on his luck, homeless and reduced to talking to himself, the Tories in conference were desperate enough to try anything.
One delegate called for a "return to hanging" to deter the small crime the fear of which exercises many voters. The "liberal-Tory" Shadow Home Secretary, Oliver Letwin raged against immigrants and asylum seekers, sounding like the real Home Secretary, David Blunkett.
In a cheap bid for the "grey vote" Iain Duncan Smith, the least plausible leader of any party for many a decade, committed the Tories to restoring the link between average incomes and the state pension. Cheap because the Tories have no chance of winning the next election; and this plank will never be the platform of a Tory Party likely to win.
This once "natural party of Government" is not what it was. That is because Blair's Labour Party is now what the Tory party once was. The Blairites have stolen the political clothing of the Thatcher Tories! This was not the conference of the effective Tory Party.
Despite the presence of the trade unions there, the real Tory Party conference took place the week before at Bournemouth.
The Blairite Labour Party is now what Tony Blair almost proclaimed it to be-the natural party of Tory Government.
The change in the roles of the parties is neatly symbolised in the conference venues, New Labour in the old Tory heartland of Bournemouth, the New Tories in prole Blackpool.
The Tories have no hope of winning the next election short of a New Labour meltdown on the scale experienced by the Italian Christian Democrats, once their raison d'etre as a bulwark against "communism" had vanished with the USSR.
Everybody knows that-even Iain Duncan Smith knows that.
All the stranger, therefore, that Blair, Prescott and the other neo-Tory political bandits who hijacked the old Labour Party should at their conference in Bournemouth have tried to frighten their critics with the spectre of a Tory "return" to power.
All the more shameful if anybody in the labour movement allows themselves to be frightened into bowing down before Blair's smart Tories in power by fear of the stumbling, mumbling, dumb, brain-damaged Tories of Iain Duncan Smith.
We in the labour movement now have the Tory Party we prefer. Unfortunately the ruling class also, in Blair's "Labour Party", have the Labour Party which they prefer.