Monday, June 29, 2009

New Labour moments (part 2)

Here's another roll of honour of New Labour's finest achievements during twelve years in office:

- The Hinduja scandal. In January 2001, it was revealed Mandelson had phoned a Home Office minister on behalf of an Indian millionaire seeking British citizenship while sponsoring the ailing Millennium Dome. Mandelson was forced to resign from his post as "Secretary of State for Ireland" as he himself had dubbed it. Seven years later, he was rewarded with a life peerage.

- House of Lords. In its 1997 manifesto ('Britain deserves better'), Labour promised to remove the hereditary peerage from the House of Lords, a unique aberration amongst Western democracies. So what did they do? Did they turn it into an elected chamber? A regional one, perhaps? No. Tony Blair thought the perfect idea would be to mix hereditary peers (92 of them), bishops and hundreds of personally handpicked ones (see below).

- Cash for Honours scandal. A number of wealthy businessmen making secret loans to New Labour prior to the 2005 elections magically got nominated for peerages (see above). A criminal investigation led to the arrest of Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy, later released on bail. "Trust damaged", said the public administration committee's report.

- "Good day to bury bad news". The tragic attack on September 11, 2001 gave Labour a chance to practice "spin at its worst". A Labour aide's memo said: ""It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors expenses?".

- "Ending boom and bust". "Through rigorous discipline we will not return to boom and bust". This succession of epic proclaims accompanied an unsustainable debt-financed growth, followed -in fact- by the worst crisis in 60 years. "I only meant no more Tory boom & bust", was Brown's justification, obviously thinking that Britain's population consists of 60 million cretins.

- The David Kelly affair. A "Best of" of Labour's culture of secrecy, political bullying and lack of transparency, this was obviously going to become Tony Blair's lowest moment in government. Anybody out there still thinking Dr Kelly committed suicide?

- The FBU strike. At the end of 2002, firefighters began the longest industrial dispute since the miners' strike in 1984. As they asked for their first wage revision since 1977, Tony Blair said that their demands could cause "terrible damage to the economy". He never said that about 'non-doms', City bonuses, or an economy built on fake credit.

- Civil liberties. From one Terror Act to the other, detention without trial under Labour rose rapidly from four days under the Tories to fourty-two days under the Counter Terrorism Bill 2008. Continuous lies over rendition flights were another fine moment.

-2/3 of all EU debt. Blair and Brown would routinely boast about Britain's "golden age" and "consumer boom" but, under Labour, personal debt was allowed to spiral out of control. In 2006 it was revealed that 2/3 of all EU credit card debt was British. I guess you know what happened after.

- A party of strong values. From Mandelson's now ultra-famous "intensely relaxed about the filthy rich", to John Hutton's ode to City bonuses "we need more millionaires" to Caroline Flint's "if you want a council house find a job" and James Purnell's "there should be no free-riding", this is how Labour has become a "party of strong values".

- The Lisbon treaty referendum. Whichever your views on Europe, the 2005 Labour manifesto promised a referendum on the new EU constitution. "This is a Government promise", said Tony Blair. Oh yeah.

- Poverty. Despite promises and proclaims, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the poorest fifth of the population has experienced no growth in real earnings. Nearly twice as many people have relatively low incomes as 25 years ago. Income inequality has risen since Labour took power and is now higher than at any time in the last thirty years.



Stan Moss said...

New runway at Heathrow. Massive promise was broken there.

Anonymous said...

I say the smoking ban. Very draconian. I know it wasn't just in Britain but you can tell NL were in their element.