A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'll let this one write itself

As the comments sections below are taking on a life of their own, I'll let Owen et al write this one themselves.

Tony Blair has been a good Labour Prime Minister. Discuss.

Over to you to fight it out amongst yourselves:

33 Comments:

Anonymous observer said...

During Tony Blair's tenure the rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer. So - no, he's not been a good Labour Prime Minister.

5:12 pm, February 13, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Observer, you have mangled the statistics.

The poor have got richer under Blair - partly because more of them have jobs (some because the private sector is booming, some because of massive expansion in public sector jobs), partly because of the minimum wage, partly because of increased redistribution payments - tax credits, pensions, benefits etc. This is all quite apart from stuff Labour has done for the least well off in society in terms of schools, policing, health & housing that benefits communities without affecting incomes.

However the differential between the richest and poorest has widened because the most well off have been doing exceptionally well because the economy is so strong.

There's a good argument to be made that we need now to narrow that gap to increase social cohesion.

But it just isn't true to say the poor have become poorer - you only have to walk round a place like Hackney and compare what you see to ten years ago.

5:58 pm, February 13, 2007

 
Anonymous David said...

I'm interested in how the gap is measured between rich and poor - it seems to me that there are a number of measures that could be used and could be subjective or subject to the manipulation of statistics. For example, if in Year X the lowest wage was 10 and the highest wage was 100, the difference in wages is 90. If both wages grow at the rate of inflation, say 10% for illustrative purposes, the lowest wage would have increased to 11 and the highest wage to 110, a different of 99. Clearly more yet in real terms both wages retain the same spending power. In fact, you can increase the lowest wage at a faster rate yet the gap could still widen. Ergo, commentators can manipulate the data and make misleading comparisons to support their case. Unfortunately journalists and opposing political parties do not have to rigour in their analysis, merely generate a sensational headline.

I'm sure someone is going to point out that some of the top end wages have been increasing at higher rates. This ignores the fact that more people earning more in the economy is ultimately going to benefit the poorer in society so long as we have a government committed to distributing the extra revenues in the social measures Luke describes as opposed to tax cuts which would disproportionately benefit the better off. It should be noted that taxation has increased for higher earners through both fiscal drag and in absolute terms, eg abolition of cap on NI.

There is an argument that closing the relative gap is always going to lag behind the creation of wealth. As people make money, they are going to spend it later - thus delaying some of increased revenues that the exchequer will earn and could use to redistribute.

Merely because people have got richer does not make this a bad labour government. It shows sound stewardship of the economy.

7:32 pm, February 13, 2007

 
Anonymous Tony Blair said...

APPOINTMENT OF COLONEL DONALD ROSS AS LORD-LIEUTENANT FOR DUNBARTONSHIRE
The Queen has been pleased to appoint Colonel Donald Grant Ross OBE DL as Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for the Area of Dunbartonshire upon the retirement of Brigadier Donald D G Hardie KStJ TD FIM.

10:20 pm, February 13, 2007

 
Anonymous 18 years of hurt said...

Luke, is the above what you envisaged when we knocked on doors 10 years ago? No, me neither. It's amazing what 10 years of missed opportunities can lead to, 92 peers by birth still in there and all that*.

Speaking of which, how's your Parliamentary career going?

* seriously, Luke, if you'd asked me where I thought Britain would be in 2007, I wouldn't have said like it is now. And I was pretty 'New Labour' compared to most.

11:42 pm, February 13, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

As Luke and David have pointed out, the poor have got richer under Blair, and so have the rich, which I, for one, don't have a problem with.

Btw, a question for the Old-Labourites: how will the working man get richer if he is subjected to swingeing income tax rises, as proposed by the McDonnell camp - surely his take-home pay will decrease and he will become poorer ...

11:50 pm, February 13, 2007

 
Anonymous Tim F said...

Sham: John McDonnell has not proposed income tax rises for the worst-off. If you're going to make stuff up you should make it realistic enough for people to actually believe.

Personally I have high expectations of Labour governments and they haven't been met under Tony Blair. Many things have got better, but some have got worse and many opportunities have been missed.

In 30 years time we'll know whether Tony Blair saved the party or destroyed it (my vote's for neither). We'll know whether NHS reforms modernised a crumbling institution or fragmented a national treasure and paved the way for Tories to privatise it (I fear the latter). We'll know whether the wars delivered democracy in Iraq & Afghanistan at a high price or we had to pull out after copious bloodshed because the prospects of improvement were unrealistic & civil war ensued (the latter seems more realistic to me).

At best I think we'll remember him as a competent steward who kept unemployment & inflation fairly low, lifted limited sections of vulnerable people out of poverty and delivered some improvements in hospitals & schools despite a worrying obsession with inefficient quasi-markets and costly private-sector involvement.

I think the approach on ASB will endure (a good thing), but the only other lasting effects I can imagine on either party or country are nightmare scenarios about the collapse of the NHS, the weakening/breaking of the union link, etc.

2:19 am, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous observer said...

A question or two for those of you who speak with such authority about the poor becoming richer during Blair's tenure:
How many of you are on Income Support?
How many of you are in debt because of heating costs?
How many of you have been to court because you can't pay essential bills?
How many of you have been waiting over a year on an NHS waiting list?
How many of you don't have a bathroom that works?
How many of you can't afford to attend further education college or the local leisure centre?
How many of you haven't had a new set of clothes in years?
How many of you haven't been on holiday in decades?
How many of you couldn't afford to buy your kids anything but the cheapest presents for Christmas and birthdays?
How many of you go hungry before the end of the benefit fortnight?
In fact, how many of you even know (those classic DSS words) "how much the law says you need to live on"?

I'm not denying that a lot of working class people have benefited since Labour came into power. But the poorest people (and I mean the really poorest people - the sort you lot don't get to meet in your constituency surgeries) are worse off. I know; to most of the above questions I can answer "yes". And many friends and family can answer "yes" to most every single question.

So, Luke, you are wrong! I have not mangled the statistics; because I'm not quoting statistics. I'm citing personal experience - testament, if you like. But you're a professional spin doctor and nothing I say (or any other impoverished person) is going to remove the blinkers from your eyes.

And all the statistics you quote ain't going to put one extra penny in the pockets of people living below the poverty line and getting poorer.

It's bad enough being poor (and unable to work).

What's worse than being poor?

Being poor and hidden by the politicians' statistics, being denied and our plight ignored.

3:43 am, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

This is a difficult discussion point, because I neither believe Tony Blair should get personal credit for the achievements of this government, nor personal blame for its failures. So to discuss whether he has been a good Prime Minister is a different discussion than whether this has been a good government (and different again from whether it's a good LABOUR government) and a discussion I feel under-qualified to comment greatly on (but I'll muse in an ill-informed way about it towards the end of this post!!!)

As far as the government is concerned, the 'league table' on child welfare from UNICEF today rather illustrates the point I wanted to make, although in a much more stark and depressing way than I had intended. Quite properly, child poverty has been at the forefront of the government's anti-poverty assault, and we've done some very impressive things. And yet, in a table of 21 industrialised countries, and worked out on quite an impressive and complex set of indicators, we are at the bottom of the league table for child well-being. Now, that is not the fault of the current government, any more than it is the achievement of the current governments towards the top of the table: it has much more to do with the last 20/25 years, the philosophy at the heart of civil society and the system which operates. My concern is not that the government hasn't brought in some useful and impressive iniatives - it has; it is not that we haven't spent a good deal of money on various useful things - we have; what we have failed to do - despite an unprecedented opportunity, is fundamentally change the philosophy of government, nor the system of governing, that was created by the Thatcherite "counter-revolution". We're not to blame for being at the bottom of that league table, but we've been in power for ten years, and we should have gone beyond good initiatives and extra money and been able to reverse some of the terrible damage the Tories did.

We haven't done that, and I have to ask 'why not?' And my unfortunate answer is that the Thatcherite hegemony poisoned even a good deal of the Labour Party, and people in government did not want to reverse a philosophy which it shared. It was not good enough to declare an intention to manage a market-driven neo-liberal agenda better, or even more equitably, than Thatcher had: and it is that fundamental misconception which has contributed to where the government has failed.

Onto Tony Blair personally - you ask if he's a good Labour Prime Minister. Well, let's consider the competition: Ramsay McDonald (never had a majority until he betrayed the movement and became a 'national' Prime Minsiter), Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan.

It would be completely unfair to compare Blair with Callaghan as to compare their parliamentary situations and economic circumstances demonstrates that Blair had a much more favourable environment in which to govern than Callaghan had. So I'm left comparing Blair, Wilson and Attlee.

Blair and Attlee both came to power with landslide victories. More people voted for Attlee's government (more people voted for him even when he lost) - they both had the opportunity to make fundamental changes to British society.

Attlee's government (I won't give him personal credit, anymore than I'll give Blair personal credit or blame, etc.) essentially created the welfare state, the National Health Service, brought various things into public ownership: it was a genuinely radical government that made fundamental changes. I would put the minimum wage in a similar sort of category, from Blair's government, but personally I can't see anything else which really compares (although increased investment in the Health Service certainly earns this government congratulations, etc.)
So - just a personal view - Blair's government has been immeasurably less successful than Attlee's, despite being in power longer, having a larger majority, having very favourable economic circumstances. Prime Ministers must play some role in that, though I don't think individual personalities are the key.

I would also argue that Wilson's governments - particularly his governments in the 1960s - were more successful than Blair's too, in terms of concrete achievements, and also in terms of foreign policy (which I forgot to include re: Attlee) - although the Blair government has been more successful re: Northern Ireland.

All in all, considering the huge advantages the Blair government has had (massive majority, favourable point in the economic cycle, weakened opposition) I would have to conclude that it hasn't been a very good Labour government (though it's not a bad government in a more general sense) - it has done some very good things, but so it should have! It missed an opportunity to do something rather more significant than that.

11:30 am, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

P.S: Sorry for the long post, you can tell it's half term can't you!

11:57 am, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrew Brown said...

Take heart Duncan, the UNICEF report uses figures from the turn of the century, we've had another 6 or 7 years of Labour government since then.

Which is why one its authors Professor Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York, is quoted in The Times saying the result was a consequence of two decades of chronic underfunding in child health and education from 1979 to 1999.

Nothing to be complacent about of course, but not quite the stick the Tories are trying to make it.

3:14 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Tim F: you're wrong.

McDonnell will raise taxes for all, this will have numerous effects, not least a rise in unemployment as big business pulls out of Britain. Fantastic! Vote McDonnell and lose your job ...

As for democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, bear in mind that had the cowardly McDonnell been in charge, those countries would still be run by his mates Saddam and the Taleban. He's a disgraceful man who'll do nothing, absolutely nothing for the people of the Middle East. Democracy? He doesn't even know the meaning of the word.

3:24 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

Andrew - good point; unfortunately, where people have tried to bring this up to date, it isn't entirely encouraging, although I certainly agree that the Tories should find nothing in this report to help them (and I hope that was clear from my post).

Sham - please, please, please stop posting libellous rubbish.

3:30 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger Ewan Watt said...

Ever thought that by increasing taxation across the board you may in fact lose revenue? When Labour cut corporation tax, they immediately reaped the benefits of extra revenue.

Cutting taxes, or keeping taxes at a reasonably low level tend to raise revenues, thus feeding the very social programmes that the Left seem to regard as sacrosanct.

3:49 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Well, Duncan, it depends on your point of view, doesn't it?

If you're gonna condone those who call the Prime Minister a "mass murderer", "war criminal" and "liar", as well as doing so yourself, is that not libellous???

I will continue to expose McDonnell for the vile individual he is, as I've no doubt you will with regard to Mr Blair.

Instead of criticising me, why don't you listen to what Ewan has to say; one of the few sensible correspondents on this blog!

4:07 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

Sham says:

McDonnell will raise taxes for all, this will have numerous effects, not least a rise in unemployment as big business pulls out of Britain. Fantastic! Vote McDonnell and lose your job ...

Sham, you can argue against someone based on things you completely make up, but I don't really know what it achieves.

In actual fact, tax plans floated for our alternative budget included proposals to end income tax for all those earning £10,000 or less. We proposed introducing a new tax band of 50% for those earning £50,000 or more, and one of 60% for those earning £100,000. We would also increase corporation tax, move away from indirect flat taxes, and close loopholes which allow companies to evade billions of pounds worth of tax every year. Clearly only a very small, wealthy section of the population would experience a rise in taxation, while the majority would enjoy either a reduction in tax or the same tax level.

Britain currently has among the lowest tax in the Western world. As it is, big busineses routinely shuts down shop here and relocate elsewhere - because it is easier to do that here than practically anywhere else. That will also change under a McDonnell government - as will the lack of employment rights which promote a "hire and fire" economy (or "a flexible labour market", as Blair/Brown would describe it).

You can keep stating your own made-up facts if you like - I dunno, perhaps that John plans to ban beer or to shoot all children aged under 3 or whatever - but no matter how many times you say them, they won't actually become any more true.

A typical post from Sham calls McDonnell a Saddam Hussein supporter, has three question or exclamation marks at the end of at least one sentence, and usually ends with "ha ha ha"! Let's just say he's not necessarily the most intelligent "polemicist" in the world.

I'm just saying.

4:32 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous duncan said...

Sham - while personally I find the language you refer to, re: Tony Blair rather sloganistic, it has some grounding in reality:

Tony Blair did tell a series of untruths about Iraq (and no doubt about other issues, but I think the issue which as caused most ill-feeling is about Iraq). I refer you to an earlier article I wrote:

http://leftforum.tripod.com/scarletstandard/index.blog?topic_id=44935

Please scroll down to the third article, "In Good Faith: Analysis of a Lie"

There is a huge amount of divided opinion on whether the war was legal or not - personally I have never found the legal position (essentially that Iraq had broken the ceasefire terms of the first Gulf War, so this war was justified on the same UNSC resolutions as that war) at all convincing.

The decisions Tony Blair made with regards to the war were made in the full knowledge that thousands of people would die as a consequence.

So, there is a clear argument (whether you accept it or not) with specific reference to Iraq (which I'd actually tried to keep out of my analysis, in order to be able to have a broader discussion) that states that Tony Blair misled the country (on more than one occasion), broke international law and made decisions that led to the (unneccessary, from some people's perspective) deaths of many thousands of people. Now these are arguments, not statements of incontrovertible fact, but they are arguments that can be supported with reason and evidence.

The suggestion that John McDonnell (and you have cast your net wider on many occasions, including me on occasion, I seem to recall) were 'friends' or 'mates' of Saddam Hussain or the Taliban, is repeatedly tossed out by yourself without any effort at substantiation, nor any evidence.

If you wish to pursue the perfectly legitimate argument that those of us who were/are anti-war are forced to address: that had our advice been followed, it is highly likely that Saddam would still be president of Iraq; and reasonably likely that the Taleban would still run Afghanistan, then make that argument, and I'm sure people will engage with you about it. But don't keep repeating the lie that people who opposed going to war with countries supported those countries' regimes. Unless you are proposing going to war against every country with a government you oppose, it is a ridiculous and hyprocritical line of argument.

4:44 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger Ewan Watt said...

"In actual fact, tax plans floated for our alternative budget included proposals to end income tax for all those earning £10,000 or less. We proposed introducing a new tax band of 50% for those earning £50,000 or more, and one of 60% for those earning £100,000. We would also increase corporation tax, move away from indirect flat taxes, and close loopholes which allow companies to evade billions of pounds worth of tax every year. Clearly only a very small, wealthy section of the population would experience a rise in taxation, while the majority would enjoy either a reduction in tax or the same tax level."

Yes, only a small, wealthy section of the population would experience the rise in taxation, but it's also this 1% who pay around 20% of our total taxation and possess 23% of the nations wealth. Increasing this would lead to more companies - and individuals - leaving the UK, thus leaving the Treasury severely out of pocket.

In addition, the CBI reports that over 50% of business are considering leaving Britain, or have thought about leaving the UK, because of the burdensome tax regime. Why would you want to increase corporation tax and 'loop holes' when all you'd be doing is cutting the revenue to fund social programmes?

It just seems to me that you'd be cutting of your face to spite your nose.

5:02 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

Ewan said: "When Labour cut corporation tax, they immediately reaped the benefits of extra revenue."

Ewan, how do you account for this? I understand (though don't accept) your argument that lower taxation may prevent wealthy people from leaving the country, therefore avoiding potential future loss of revenue, but where did the immediate extra revenue come from in relation to corporation tax?

5:30 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous duncan said...

And just a note to Andrew - the UNICEF report is taken from data from 2000-2003; it is not really old news, even though I acknowledge that it won't take into accout the effects of recent investment, much of which in relation to child poverty dates back to 2002. But we really should not be complacent.

5:32 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous angus said...

I seem to recall an opinion poll a few years back in which about 50% of the *entire* UK pop. had 'considered' leaving the country. Such a question is virtually meaningless.

Yes, some individuals and companies may leave under a higher tax regime but, whatever the scaremongering from those that would lose out under such a change, that doesn't imply it would occur on such a scale that total tax revenue would actually decline when the rate was higher.

In effect, you are claiming the UK is poised at the moment on the optimum point on the Laffer curve. I doubt most economists would agree with you. In absolute terms British income levels are very high in international terms and the tax rates Owen is talking about would not make us exceptional in Europe. Besides, we should be seeking to co-operate with other European nations in preventing a race to the bottom in tax rates and tax revenues.

5:45 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous angus said...

Duncan,

on the corporate tax point I suppose Ewan would argue the low rate attracted more foreign investment (though this argument endorses leading a race to the bottom that ultimately benefits no country).

But just because corporate tax revenues rose following the cut (if they did) doesn't demonstrate cause and effect. The time of the cut in the late 90s was also a time of strong economic growth and rising tax revenues for entirely independent reasons.

5:51 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Alright Owen, I'll debate you on the figures you've provided.

Put simply,

40% of £100,000,000,000 >
50% of £75,000,000,000

for example. ie. a smaller percentage of a high number gives you a greater tax take than a larger percentage of a lower number. And be in no doubt, if the rate for those earning between £50,000 and £99,999 goes up from 40 to 50 % this will happen.

As for the plan to tax those earning £100,000 or more 60% of their income, all I ask of yourself and Duncan (and anyone else who's intereted) is to study the Laffer curve.

Thank you.

7:59 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous angus said...

Sham,

you can argue if you want that 40% just happens to be the optimum point on the Laffer Curve, but you will have trouble finding credible evidence for that view.

The Laffer Curve (or "voodoo economics" as George Bush snr. called it) was drawn up-literally-on the back of a cocktail napkin by Arthur Laffer at a Republican party dinner. Reagan used it to justify tax cuts for the wealthy. The result:

"The [1981 Reagan] tax cut did not cause tax revenue to rise... tax revenue fell... the government began a long period of deficit spending... the largest peacetime increase in the government debt in U.S. history. Fads can make experts seem less united than they actually are." N. Gregory Mankiw, a head of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, in his 1998 book Principles of Economics (New York: Dryden. pp. 29-30, in the section "Thinking Like an Economist: Why Economists Disagree: Charlatans and Cranks")

9:50 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

There's a good argument to be made that we need now to narrow that gap to increase social cohesion.

Not just for that wet/one-nationist stuff. It goes further. We must be a party committed to equality. That goes further than just opposing poverty.

As much as I refuse the mantle of 'Old Labour' (it's been ten years of Tony now!), I have to take up this point:

how will the working man get richer if he is subjected to swingeing income tax rises, as proposed by the McDonnell camp - surely his take-home pay will decrease and he will become poorer ...

Well, it's pretty simple. You just make sure that the tax rises at the top are big enough to pay him off!

It's not a case of 'tax: more benefit or less', but more about 'tax: benefit or burden, unto whom, at the expense of the other'. Mostly anyway.

Although I, as a Croslandite and Rawlsian, believe that managed growth via incentivisation is necesary to fund redistribution, inequality (liberty) is justified insofar as the poor (weaker actors) gain faster than the rich (stronger actors).

That's where I'd like to see Labour go now.

From behind my veil of ignorance, innit.

10:18 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

Hi Sham and others... Yes - I was aware of the Laffer curve, just unaware that it had become common currency in Labour circles!!

My understanding was that very few people took the Laffer curve terribly seriously: of course there is a theoretical point at which raising tax further would lead to decreased revenue, but the proposed parabola that would place it somewhere around 50% is pure myth (and largely irrelevent to a progressive tax system anyway). The proposition that the UK's tax burden (which is rather low) is anywhere near that theoretical point earlier referred to is nonsense. There may be a point at which taxes got too high to win an election - and we can debate that sensibly - but I can't really believe I'm debating Reaganomics on a Labour blog.

10:18 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

So anyway, Blair has been Labour, but he's on the edge. And many of his policies are over it, ie. the attempt to reintroduce selection in schools, often illiberal penal policy (prison without trial, with no grounding for the measures, FOREVER! Roy Jenkins would be proud...) and the stuff he sends outriding.

10:20 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

Mind you, Jenkins didn't end up very Labour either... but Blair seems determined to borrow his trade union bashing gloves himself...

10:21 pm, February 14, 2007

 
Anonymous observer said...

as I was saying . . .

And all the statistics you quote ain't going to put one extra penny in the pockets of people living below the poverty line and getting poorer.

It's bad enough being poor (and unable to work).

What's worse than being poor?

Being poor and hidden by the politicians' statistics, being denied and our plight ignored.

... and ignored ...
... again ...
... and again ...
... and again ...pq

12:44 am, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous VoteLabourWithPride said...

Blair has been the most succesful Labour Prime Minister in history, right up there with Clem.

He introduced a minimum wage. He introduced devolution to Wales, Scotland and London. He resided over record investment in public services. Crime, which hits traditional working class Labour voters more than affluent Daily Mail Tories, is down. The living standards of all parts of society are up. He introduced new rights for trade unions to organise. In most of the years of his premiership public sector wages have risen faster than private sector wages - going a long way to rebalancing a Tory legacy. He has led the world on climate change. The economy is all about low inflation, low interest rates, high levels of employment and rising wages.

Put this record against any Prime Minister, Labour or Tory, and you have a Prime Minister and Government of which we should all bre proud and supporting.

10:32 am, February 15, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Observer

I don't know why you think anyone is denying the existence of both absolute and relative poverty in Britain.

The statistics don't deny it - but they do say Labour has reduced absolute - particularly child -poverty.

All of us who are Labour councillors or MPs meet people at our surgeries or when we are knocking on doors who are suffering from poverty - we don't deny it, we try to help them. In my particular case the ward I represent has blindingly obvious cases of absolute poverty because it is one of the most deprived in London.

Most of us are members of trade unions working to improve the pay and conditions of the working poor.

I'm not going to get into a "my dad's poorer than your dad" contest but my personal motivation for getting politically active was direct experience of low income - my parents were on family credit/family income support throughout the ‘80s, another family member is on disability benefits at the moment so some of the things you described in your earlier comment – not being able to afford holidays, being dependent on benefit, not being able to buy new clothes, having to make tough choices about what food or children’s toys could be afforded, are the experiences I saw my mum and dad dealing with as I grew up and which informed my political beliefs, not something I have an academic or theoretical interest in.

Wanting to eradicate poverty is why almost every Labour person I know is in politics – so no you are not being ignored or the reality of your experience denied.

11:15 am, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

I've opposed Blair since 1995 and joined the Labour Party in 1998 to fight against Blairism and everything in stood for.

On that basis, I've been pleasantly by a lot of New Labour's domestic policy and the results of it.

Without producing one of the lists of achievements, I think Britain's a lot better now than it was in 1997.

The Blair government won the argument for progressive taxation to fund increased public spending, when many other Western centre-left parties have been losing it.

Poorer people are significantly better off under Labour in the ways already mentionned.

Headline stuff aside, I think government has made huge strides in creating the space and the conditions for people in communities to improve things for themselves.

That doesn't make me any more supportive of the war in Iraq, ill-judged marketisation of public services and counter-productive restrictions on civil liberties.

Tackling relative inequality is also a growing issue.

But taken as a whole, Blair's record's a lot better than what I expected (I accept this isn't really a mainstream view at the moment.)

12:31 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Blair has been the most succesful Labour Prime Minister in history, right up there with Clem.

He introduced a minimum wage. He introduced devolution to Wales, Scotland and London. He resided over record investment in public services. Crime, which hits traditional working class Labour voters more than affluent Daily Mail Tories, is down. The living standards of all parts of society are up. He introduced new rights for trade unions to organise. In most of the years of his premiership public sector wages have risen faster than private sector wages - going a long way to rebalancing a Tory legacy. He has led the world on climate change. The economy is all about low inflation, low interest rates, high levels of employment and rising wages.

Put this record against any Prime Minister, Labour or Tory, and you have a Prime Minister and Government of which we should all bre proud and supporting."

Blair did all this personally? I thought it was a joint effort of the party leadership, inspired by policies that came from the bottom up. Perhaps not. Perhaps we are a party that is reliant on the 'cult of the personality'. Blair was good for his original purpsoe of changing the party's image, but now there are too many people both inside and outside Labour who despise him. Considering the tragedy of Iraq (saying that as someone who orginally was a vehement supporter) I do not think this is surprising. He should have resigned long before now to allow Labour to "renew" itself rather than becoming stale (as it undoubtedly now seems). His mission to serve 10 years seems pathetic. I can't imagine the modest Clement Attlee ever being so full of his own self-importance. Labour is a mass movement and should never become over reliant on individual personalities.

11:26 am, February 16, 2007

 

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