You just don't get it do you, Doc
"The whole thing has been generated by people who want to push Mr Blair out. They want to stop the reform programme and go back to Old Labour."If only. I'm a Liberal Democrat faute de mieux. In my time I have been a member of all three political parties, as one of my oldest friends closely associated with this blog who has always been a Liberal or Liberal Democrat never ceases to remind me. Yet my views and instincts haven't really changed at all. Though I was born and still live in the North, and have only paid business rates to the London Borough of Camden, ich bin ein Hampsteader through and through.
Now what does this New Labour Project which the good doctor wants to save mean to Hampstead man. In a word "yuck".
The project means war. We've had far more warns under TB than even Lady Thatcher. Not just Iraq but Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and - who knows - before long nuclear bunker busters in Iran. These wars are not fought for national survival nor even national interest. If they further anybody's national interest it is that of the fading imperial power. They are all unnecessary and, in most cases, unwinnable.
The project means deindustrialization. The decline in manufacturing that Thatcher started has continued apace. But what is worrying is that we are losing our capacity to invent. We lie sixth in the number of European patent applications behind not just the USA, Japan, Germany and France but even the Netherlands which one third of our population for goodness sake. And we are closing down chemistry departments faster than Beeching closed down branch lines. It is true that we have the illusion of well being but it is all froth based on soaring property prices and artificially low interest rates. Give an oil price spike, a war with Iran or a pandemic and we shall soon see the fragility of the economic base.
The project means authoritarianism: identity cards, 28 days (90 if the government had its way) imprisonment without charge, DNA data banks of >5% of the population (particularly Cheshire children), gun toting coppers, the highest prison population in Europe after Turkey, ever shrinking legal aid (gone altogether for most civil disputes).
The project means privilege. PFI contracts with returns to the investors beyond the dreams of Croesus, a handful of GPs earning hundreds of thousands of pounds while most health workers are underpaid and under-resourced with a similar story in education.
The project is personalized by the Deputy Prime Minister - no ministerial responsibility but all the perks. As one of his political rivals put it - two pads, two jags and no job.
I could go on. I have deliberately avoided Cherie Booth's hairdressing, Tessa Jowell's business transactions, peerages, loans etc because these relate to personalities rather than policies. But they are inevitably linked in the public mind to the new Labour project. And they are corrosive. Any ambitious Labour MP who wants a job after 2009 will ditch that project together with its principal protagonist. Quickly.
Posted by J