Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Privatise This

Tony Blair’s ninth speech to Labour Conference as Prime Minister, and the Dear Leader is evidently still not for turning. Or apologising. Or buggering off.

"New Labour was never just a clever way to win; it was a fundamental recasting of progressive politics so that the values we believed in became relevant to the time we lived in."

I believe him on this. I believe that he believes that Labourite social democracy does not work; but that New Labour does, and has. I also believe that New Labour is not compatible with Labour, and it’s about time he left. TB made a comment implying that the rainbow coalition ("from Dennis Skinner to myself") was a self-evident success, but this is no coalition.

There are definite, unequivocal reasons for celebrating ‘New’ Labour’s tenure (anyone who says ‘Labour are just like the Tories now’ deserves the vote less than they deserve a slap in the mouth): The New Deal, Sure Start, the Working Families Tax Credit, the increase in investment in public services, the healthy economy, the Northern Ireland peace process, the attempted crackdown on yob culture on sink estates and the regeneration projects that go with it, the support for more debt cancellation and AIDS aid from the richest nations… all well, good, and to a greater or lesser extent, socialist.

But – leaving aside the problems I have with TB over civil liberties, the environment, faith schools, and his choice of foreign friends and adventures, there’s one thing which screams out to me still as the clear proof that he is not fit to lead the party which is still (as far as I know) officially called The Labour Party: privatisation. I shouldn’t really need to explain why, nor to say that I do not believe in wholesale renationalisation and the "command economy" he so disingenuously described in his speech. The Labour Party is not a party that should feed the private sector our money and control of our health and our education. There’s a reason why the only stories you ever read in the papers about privatisation are about scandals, overspends, embezzlements, inefficiency and corruption.


Blogger Alex Bok Bok said...

i take your points defending new labour, all except the 'attempted crackdown on yob culture'. I can't see any merit in this at all! Surely it's just an appaulingly cheap way of trying to keep middle england happy via pandering to Daily Mail scaremongering, rather than a righteous attempt to clean up our culture?

Cait's sister, 14, has recently started a class at school called Citizenship. And while in practice she moans about it just like we used to complain about Physical Social and Health Education (aka +free period /m/), in theory at least this is the kind of positive steps that need to be taken to re-inforce a sense of public identity and to introduce young individuals to their context within society. Blair's crackdown is just reactionary, though, surely?

sorry to go off the point a little bit. Just can't stand to see any mention of this policy not be accompanied by an aside of outrage.

10:34 PM  
Blogger dan hancox said...

hehe i knew you'd protest about that. first off, i said a crackdown in conjunction with regeneration projects. my friend robert works in regeneration in a v poor part of west london, and is having more money thrown at him to spend on youth initiatives, community projects, etc than he knows what to do with. all good, we can agree. however: as much as i balk at pretty much all of the media's rhetoric on the subject, i've been thinking recently that i don't believe that positive liberal shizzle like 'building civic identity' is gonna work conclusively or effectively immediately.

i don't live on a sink estate, and never have, so it's as inappropriate for me to say 'people on sink estates want something done about muggings, robbery, etc' as it is for you or anyone else to say 'no they don't, they just want decent housing and a decent education' or whatever. that caveat out the way (which i'm sure you agree with), i suspect that if i was subject to being mugged and threatened all the time, i'd probably be more concerned about my personal safety than about the suppression of youthful expression by a reactionary government.

the labour party is not a liberal party, it is the party of the poor (and people who aren't poor but believe in some level of egalitarianism). since we can't immediately create a utopia where there are no crime blackspots, no no-go areas, and everyone has a sense of civic duty, i'll accept the fact that blair is telling the mail what it wants to hear if it's also helping some of the poorest parts of the country at the same time.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Alex Bok Bok said...

yep, i can see the argument that citizenship isn't a longterm investment as much as a load of liberal wank. But also, and not to get all I-believe-The-Children-are-our-future... but, they are. I'm just really worried about a whole generation of working class youth growing up alienated, with self-fullfilling prophesies beset upon them by the labour government, that's all.

It troubles me, it really does, even if some sort of action obviously does need to be taken against those who have already offended. I'm just not about to support or condone a blanket campaign that contributes to setting kids up into stereoptypes because of their choice of head attire!

7:20 PM  
Blogger dan hancox said...

yeah, you're kind of almost convincing me back the other way again. i just get sick of hearing lib dem mps and other professional establishment hand-wringers saying 'you can't just punish young offenders, it's an attack on civil liberties', and my response is just 'what do you actually mean - you're talking abstract bullshit while people are suffering'; and worst of all they're in a position to do something about it - albeit ensconced cosily in their hampstead sofas.

and obviously blanket condemnations and the hoody thing are both crazy. piers morgan presented a docu on the hoody - and its connotations - on sky one the other night, but i couldn't watch it cos i don't have sky. shame.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting debate - I agree pretty much 100% with Dans first reply here.

It drives me insane when people argue against tough action against people that often make life living hell for their neighbours, on the basis that 'you have to look at the causes'.

It shouldn't be a revelation to anyone that poverty is the biggest 'cause' of criminal and anti-social behaviour, for a whole range of reasons.

The whole point of a Labour Government should be creating a greater disctribution of opportunity, and to some degree wealth.

However,it is both cruel and unusual to punish the poor for their own poverty by refusing to take action on the violent property crime that disproportionately affects them, on the basis that we cannot enforce discipline until the criminals have the same assets as the law abiding majority.

Its a bit like saying that Criminals from poor backgrounds have minority status, and so punishing crime is discrimination.


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