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28 April 2009

More on "New Labour" .. some credit?

Yesterday I was pretty churlish about the present Labour Government, and I do not detract from anything I said. But in my enthusiasm to criticise I had forgotten that there have been two or three good aspects to the Labour era.

Looking back at a number of governments and Prime Ministers it seems to me that each one can only be remembered favourably on one or two counts, whilst everything else they did was either neutral or negative in effect. For example, Winston Churchill was a great war leader, and his ability to inspire not just us, but those who were persuaded to join the fight against the German Nazis, cannot be disputed. And yet his record as a peace-time Prime Minister was distinctly underwhelming.

The Post-war Labour government of Clement Attlee can be remembered with pride for the creation of the National Health Service. It is still with us, and God help anyone who has the temerity to suggest that it should be dismantled.

The Conservative Administration of Margaret Thatcher or (as the late great Clement Freud called her) Attila the Hen can be remembered as the government that destroyed the tyranny of the Trade Unions and democratized them. Having done that she might as well have packed her bags, because in my opinion she did nothing else memorable except to cause misery and divisiveness: she was an arrogant, self-opinionated fanatic who (together with her buddy Ronal Reagan) sowed the seeds for the financial disaster that we are now experiencing.

Some governments are memorable for having nothing good to be memorable for, such as the Conservative Administrations of Ted Heath and John Major, and the Labour Administrations of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

And so we come to our present Labour Government: yes, they have done one or two good things and should be given credit. One was the National Minimum Wage, something the Conservatives fought tooth and nail against and would never have introduced such a thing. Another was devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (though only 8 our 10 for this because there was no devolution for England). Then there have been the annual Winter Fuel Payments for senior citizens, and also free bus travel for them, again a couple of measures the Tories would never have introduced.

So, one and a half cheers for New Labour. But alas, it will still be farewell some time next year.

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