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A nearly successful demonstration – ADDENDUM

March 30, 2011

Since posting the previous blog, twitter buddy @iMcKenzied has taken serious exception to my use of the phrase “a nominal Labour government”. He said to me:

@sturdyAlex “a nominally Labour government”. If you believe that our 97-10 achievements were nominal why were you marching?

I replied:

@iMcKenzied Supporting Labour doesn’t negate right to be critical. The strengthening of the financial sector which led to this mess is also part of that legacy. We need to own up.

Ian came back with the following:

@sturdyAlex Right to be critical doesn’t imply obligation to offend. “Nominally” Labour? A national minimum wage in name only?

@sturdyAlex The NHS budget tripled: 85,000 extra nurses and 32,000 extra doctors weren’t nominal. Nor were more than the 100 new hospitals.

@sturdyAlex Doubling the spend per pupil wasn’t nominal. Nor was BSF’s building or renovating 1000s schools. Nor it’s Tory-led cancellation.

@sturdyAlex 14,000 extra coppers reducing crime by 32% wasn’t nominal. Nor was Scottish, Welsh & London devolution. Or peace in Ireland.

@sturdyAlex 50% statutory union recognition wasn’t nominal nor 4 weeks paid holiday, nor paternity leave. Civil Partnerships aren’t nominal.

@sturdyAlex Thousands of Sure Start centres weren’t nominal and those who use them won’t think their closure nominal either. EMA? Nominal?

@sturdyAlex Winter fuel payments for pensioners was just one measure that helped a million pensioners out of poverty and wasn’t nominal.

@sturdyAlex The pain and distress reduced as operating waiting lists and times plummeted wasn’t nominal. Nor was free museum access.

@sturdyAlex The 3,000,000 child trust funds started under Labour and abolished by the Tories weren’t nominal.

@sturdyAlex Doubling the overseas aid budget and cancelling 100% of the debt of the poorest countries was so not nominal the Tories kept it.

@sturdyAlex Free eye tests for the >60s wasn’t nominal it helped pick up glaucoma and other ailments. Free >60s bus travel is freeing ppl.

@sturdyAlex There’s an almost endless list of Labour measures that were tangible and made a +ve difference to tens of millions. I’m proud.

@sturdyAlex reflection on mistakes and learning lessons doesn’t mean sloppy, lefty, posturing is appropriate. Only benefits the Tories.

On reflection my choice of language was inappropriate and harsh. I thank Ian for reminding me all the good things that were accomplished during that period. I did, after all, work for the Civil Service for the majority of that time. I did not mean to belittle them. The feelings underlying my statement, however, have not magically disappeared. They remain, for me – and it is important to note that, as always, my blog expresses my own thoughts and views and is not meant to be evangelical in nature.

It is not useful to list a litany of what went wrong. I was simply expressing a disparity between my expectation and the result. What I mean is this: I would find any government handing part of control of our finances to banking institutions or entering an illegal war and lying about it, unpalatable. I found the fact that it was a Labour government doing these things, positively soul-destroying.

Of course I am proud of the achievements listed by Ian. Was I proud of the government overall? During its first term, yes. During its second, much less so. During the third I was, on balance, ashamed. Maybe others were consistently proud. That is just how I felt. It doesn’t make me any less loyal to the party or its causes.

And I have my own theories about how this happened. It is those reasons I explore in the blog above. My sloppy, lefty view is that we started on that journey in 1997, setting a course that was a tiny half a degree off. Thirteen years later we found ourselves in a wilderness that I, at least, did not even recognise. And so when I see my party setting out on its next journey, again with the same wrongly plotted course, I have not only a right, but a responsibility to speak up. I would rather belong to an honourable party in opposition, of which I am proud, rather than one of which I am ashamed in government.

I don’t agree that this kind of debate helps the Tories, if it flows from the right motives. We cannot just bitch about what they are doing wrong, while obfuscating the fact that there are elements of the political machine that are broken. It would be dishonest. We have to talk about this stuff; openly, honestly and without defensiveness. Because in 2028, I don’t want to be standing in the wilderness again, wondering what the hell happened.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. gwenhwyfaer permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:30 am

    The introduction of the ESA, its poisonous WCA, and the outsourcing of the whole process to a firm which provides an object lesson in corruption; in other words, the wholesale desecration of one of the core principles of the welfare state – that wasn’t nominal either. Nor was the introduction of the principle of indentured labour for dolies euphemistically known as “workfare” (which ironically provides neither work nor fairness). Nor was the total abandonment of the concept of civil liberties. Nor was the (thankfully unsuccessful) pursuit of the ability to lock people who scare us up until we can find something to pin on them, even if it takes a hundred years.

    These are good reasons for people who care about social justice to despise and reject Labour for the foreseeable future. And they’re not the only good reasons. Compared with the damage Labour wrought to causes they still claim to espouse, the good they did may be more than nominal, but it remains trivial.

  2. BAZ permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:42 am

    I totally agree we need to learn lessons and come out fighting with a new approach… however, I feel Milliband is far to week and is trying to appeal to everyone as Blair did, he mentions wanting to “reconnect” with the British people and is waiting on the consultation before outlining what Labour will do. WE HAVEN’T GOT TIME FOR THIS? The fabric and structure of public services for the everyone (not as a privtisation bonanza for business) is at risk.

    He is failing in his duty be an effective opposition and is not showing any leadership in attacking the cuts and the effects they are having on working people nationwide. By the time he is finished “consulting” we will have:-

    *A partly privatised NHS (ready for a final nail in coffin of the free at point of delivery NHS) full privatisation.
    *3 million unemployed – A price worth paying according to the right wingers (nearly all the current Government are right wingers)
    *A lost generation of young people cast aside by a government that doesn’t really care (if they did then they would invest in job creation schemes to stimuate growth in jobs for young people)
    *A divided society were its citizens are defined by how much money they have
    *Ghetto’s of deprivation in the North, and ever increasing properity among a select group in the south.

    New Labour needs a move to the left and quick

    Rant over

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