Benetton Ethics

Nick Cohen

  • First Annual Report on Human Rights
    56 pp, April 1998
  • The Great Deception by Mark Curtis
    Pluto, 272 pp, £14.99, June 1998, ISBN 0 7453 1234 9

When New Labour took office on 2 May 1997, supporters who had watched the Party’s rush to the right had already learned to put their faith in the God of Small Things. True, they sighed, Blair and the rest had accepted social authoritarianism, ‘flexible’ working practices, rampaging inequality and Conservative taxation and spending programmes. Yet for all the compromises, there were still cheering contrasts between the old and new regimes. The leftish Australian writer, Richard Neville, was quoted with approval: ‘There is perhaps an inch of difference between an Australia governed by Labour and an Australia governed by the right, but, believe me, it is an inch worth living in.’ Or as Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown’s spin doctor, put it when I remarked a few weeks after the new dawn broke that it was difficult to know whether there had been a change of government: ‘Bollocks, Cohen. What about the landmines?’ What about the landmines?

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