Posted by Amitabh Pal on May 13, 2010

If you follow America’s lead, you’re likely to get into trouble.

Just ask Great Britain. All it has had to show for using the United States as a role model over the past decade is a lousy war and a ruined economy.

A good part of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s project to fashion “New Labour” was to align even more intensely their country with its former colony across the pond. One facet of this was Blair’s decision to join in George W. Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

Subscribe to The Progressive

But it wasn’t the Iraq War that did the Labour Party in, since the British people, like their American counterparts, are keen to forget that fiasco. It was the mismanagement of the British economy. As chancellor of exchequer under Blair, Brown handed over the keys to the banks, mimicking the way U.S. Administrations let Wall Street take America to the cleaners. This was the Blair-Brown way.

“Brown bent over backwards to help big finance: he lobbied for it in Europe, gave it a euro test all of its own, and actively marketed Britain as the home of light-touch (even no-touch) regulation,” Larry Eliott writes in The Guardian. “Philosophically, New Labour accepted that the less the government interfered in the workings of the economy, the better.”

Even Brown himself offered up a tardy mea culpa, and took a U-turn by nationalizing and splitting up the Northern Rock bank and proposing a global tax on financial transactions.

“Gordon Brown attempts to launch a political fight back today by declaring that he takes ‘full responsibility’ for his role in the banking failures that led to the global recession, and claims that the downturn marks the end of the era of laissez-faire government,” The Guardian reported.

But with the Conservative Party now in power, free-market dogma may come to the fore again. Incoming Prime Minister David Cameron is already seeking some space to implement rightwing policies by stressing the dire situation Brown left the country in.

“No government in modern times has ever been left with such a terrible economic inheritance,” Cameron claimed to reporters.

It’s a wonder what laissez-faire economics and a belligerent foreign policy can do to a country.

Amitabh Pal is the Managing Editor of The Progressive magazine.

Subscribe to The Progressive