Thursday, June 01, 2006


Hazel not really on the Wavelength

Party Chair, Hazel Blears, today tackles the electoral problems facing Labour. As someone who is still a Labour supporter(though becoming more 'still' as time goes by), and generally a fan of the new party supremo, I'm not sure she is yet quite on the right wavelength. She takes, as a cue, the BBC's 'The Line of Beauty' which concluded last night and which, she claims, reminds us that in government the Tories were 'arrogant, decadent and elitist'. I'm probably not inclined to be especially fair to the Tories, but it seems to me they have owned up to such faults during the breast-beating of the last six months, but has the present government? Ignoring the nation's views on going to war and shamelessly massaging official rationales for doing so qualifies as 'arrogant' in my book; Prezza's activities with an office junior was undeniably 'decadent'; and making policy with a small coterie of advisers on Number 10's sofa seems a bit 'elitist' to me as well.

Hazel, hopes to 'tap into' the well springs of activism in local communities where often women have taken the initiative, but when such activity often occurs in reaction to government failure I'm not sure this attempt to wean back the women who have flooded behind the old Etonian will prove all that successful. She wonders if Labour really means business about being in government: do we merely 'take over from tired Tories' or do we have a "governing gene" in our DNA'? Political geneticists might be more likely to isolate such an elusive item if Labour ministers had not displayed such incompetence in recent months. It is very difficult to defend our party when the ground under our feet is freely eroded by gaffes galore at the likes of the Home Office, Defra, Health Department, and, most recently, the Treasury over tax credits.

The business of ministers is surely to oversee civil servants to ensure they do their jobs properly and to sort things out when they fail. Previous Labour ministers, in the eras of Attlee and Wilson managed it, so why are the current lot not succeeding? The competence of civil servants has been questioned in many parts of the media, and perhaps this has something to do with the shortcomings, but whatever happened to the vaunted 'Rolls Royce' administrative machine about which retired ministers speak and write with awe and gratitude? And, whilst on this subject, where are the representatives of this fabled behemoth, both serving and retired, to defend its activities and traduced honour? Strangely, so far from them, I have observed a big fat nothing.

Heads in the sand stuff from our Hazel.
Until we start employing some people in Labour HQ who know something about real life then this self delsusion will continue.
Hi Paul I cannot believe you are not a sailor, you even mention waves in your headline about Hazel Blears, surely a very dreay woman who does not deserve this kind of publicity. What has she ever done to make her mark?
Hi again Skipper, you seem a very intriguing person. Just to let you know I have academic links too. Last year I studied for a PG Cert in Applied Social Science Research. I wrote two papers, one on the strategy used by UKIP during the Euro Elections of 2004 to achieve their outstanding success, the second on the Republic of Ireland's unique plastic bag levy. I passed both papers with distinction. Not bad for a girl who failed her 11 plus due to exam nerves and only took 1 A level, but then studied journalism to the highest level.
"Previous Labour ministers, in the eras of Attlee and Wilson managed it" been looking in your rose-coloured history books again have you?!
Attlee and other Labour ministers were every bit as effective as Tories during the war and went on to bring about one of the most effective transformations of British political life. No rose coloured glasses needed for that; it's all in the memoirs and the histories of the time
Agree with Skipper on that one. The Atlee government was up against it: pushing the radical NHS through a conservative civil service accustomed to laissez-faire policies. I cannot conceive the current ministers having the competence to do this.

Wilson's ministers were of course far more qualified and competent than the "current lot". The debacle now, in the Home Office and elsewhere, is therefore unsurprising.
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