Labour’s glorious 13 years in power: an appreciation

Right then, what should we wreck first?
Right then, what should we wreck first?

Labour were in power for 13 years: 1997 to 2010, mostly under Tone, of course.

I used to argue with friends on the topic: what genuinely good things did Labour actually achieve, with the massive power to be wielded after their landslide? Bear in mind we can agree on most of the bad things, Iraq being no 1, and we probably can, however grudgingly, agree on what Maggie achieved in many key areas, as a handy comparison.

Happily, Labour Uncut, in the course of considering a Corbyn leadership, have offered their own carefully considered list. Remember, they all voted for Blair etc, and they still keep the Labour flame burning. Here is their list, with my comments. I’m pretty sure they haven’t missed any opportunities to big up the New Labour legacy:

…all the time Jeremy has been in parliament he has had a Labour party that either was in government or acted like it wanted to be in government. So his, and other constituents benefited from the minimum wage, 78,000 more nurses, devolved power in Scotland, a Welsh assembly, the overseas aid budget doubled, 30,000 more teachers, winter fuel payments to pensioners, halved waiting times in the NHS, free school milk and fruit, the Disability Rights Commission, free entry to museums and galleries, the Good Friday agreement, paternity leave, civil partnerships, to name but a few.

Hmm. Is that it?

the minimum wage

OK, not bad in principle, as a safety net. But it does distort market forces, which can be very damaging. Already Osborne has been fiddling with it, to his peril. as the FT says “As for working people, many will thank the chancellor as their wages rise. Others will become unaffordable and will lose their jobs”.  A mixed blessing, at best.

78,000 more nurses

Well, as a full time NHS worker, I would say firstly, it’s not that many, and secondly, putting nurses in non-jobs, which is a lot of it, is of no use. The problem, if there is one with hospital nursing, is attitudinal, and the changed nature of the job.

devolved power in Scotland

Tam Dalyell would have been proven right, if the oil price (and industry) hadn’t started collapsing. Basically a short term bit of meddling with terrible consequences. The only plus point is that despite the extremely low calibre of Holyrood MSP’s, the devolved chamber means that public spending is protected in Scotland by a nervy Westminster, whatever the Nat morons claim to the contrary. See Chokkablog on all this.

a Welsh assembly

What can I say? The Welsh NHS?

the overseas aid budget doubled

Like the minimum wage, in theory it’s a humane approach. The reality is a bit different, and being in government really shouldn’t be primarily gesture politics. It’s also spending money we don’t have.

30,000 more teachers

Another numbers game. What did the OECD find when it assessed Labour’s legacy on this? Try visiting any country in Europe, even crisis hit Spain and Greece, they seem pretty well educated and mostly fluent in English.

winter fuel payments to pensioners

Another blunt instrument, does it actually work in practice?

halved waiting times in the NHS

Ah yes, waiting times. I am part of this one. Fine concept for cancer, good for A&E, but very difficult in that service due to Labour’s destruction of GP out of hours services. However, the politicians are obsessed with waiting times for non-urgent elective surgery, over almost anything else. This distorts NHS provision, damages staff, wastes money and creates unmeetable expectations. There is no evidence that it gains votes, and all this when huge swathes of elective surgical practice are, embarrassingly, of uncertain value and unknown outcomes. Not everything is as good as a cataract op or a hip replacement.

free school milk and fruit

It’s not ‘free’. Do they actually consume it?

the Disability Rights Commission

OK as far as it went, now unfortunately swallowed up in the potentially tyrannical megabureaucracy of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a classic politicised quango

free entry to museums and galleries

Gold star, we can all agree on this one

the Good Friday agreement

Well, I have to admit that peace in Northern Ireland – for the most part – is better than the bad old days. I’m of the view however, that letting unrepetentant thugs like Adams and McGuinness swan around in government and being lauded has its down side. A lot of crimes have now gone unpunished, a lot of people feel very bitter, but powerless. A genuinely tricky one. Read this

paternity leave

Otherwise known as extended annual leave. A nightmare for small businesses and running essential public sector services. Of no proven advantage, as compared to the old days, when we just took annual leave. Actually, a pathetic development in the true sense of that word.

civil partnerships

Fair enough. Not to be confused with ‘gay marriage’.

I note that they didn’t include banning fox hunting. Is this a secret pleasure for the Labour Uncut staff? In any event, does the thin gruel outlined above even come close to outweighing the Iraq War, the institutionalisation of lying to voters, the destruction of the economy, the issues with immigration, the bizarre relationship with the worst of the EU, the explosion in unaffordable freebies by abusing Bevan’s concept of the welfare state, the subtle and not so subtle attacks on the teachers, the doctors and religion, the witless nurturing of violent Islamism in the UK?

I think the answer is no. And remember, the above is the Labour supporters‘ list of achievements, not mine. Also, bear in mind their indirect responsibility for the worst film ever made, Love Actually.

No wonder they are, happily, self-destructing.

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