Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Blair Should Echo Brecht on his Bad Reviews

I've just heard on the radio that Tony Blair, on the anniversary of his accession to power in 1997, has claimed Britain is 'much better off' now than it was ten years ago. Clearly voters have not quite seen things like that. Yesterday's Daily Telegraph, published a poll on his performance in power. It makes devastating reading. When asked if 'things had got better', respondents replied: 'yes'- 26%; 'worse'- 48%; 'about the same'- 19%. When asked how history is likely to rate him 68% predicted it would be 'mediocre' or worse. 39% will be 'happy to see him go' and 39% will 'not care one way or the other'.

Yet when asked to rate his successes, 52% cite the minimum wage, 42% peace in Northern Ireland and 36% 'steady economic growth,nearly full employment and low inflation'. Admittedly lower percentages appreciated devolution, winning the Olympics and improving public services, but it's not that respondents were unaware of this government's achievements. I would have thought the first three listed above, especially the sound economy, should have won something more than this spiteful, churlish swipe of a judgement.

Compare this with the Observer last Sunday which concluded its survey of his decade in these terms:

Britain is better off after a decade with Tony Blair in charge. Wealth has been created, and wealth has been redistributed. That is what Labour governments have always hoped to do. It has happened without a brake on global competitiveness. That is what New Labour hoped to do: build a vibrant market economy with a generous welfare state; economic freedom and social protection. That is Blairism.

Too biased? Well try(still very much a Conservative) Michael Portillo for size:

Blair will retire unlamented, after all. But he leaves behind a country more easy-going than the one he inherited, less insular and more self-confident. No wonder that the Conservatives have yet to define what their new dawn will bring.

Still not convinced? Well look at the mere 6% who rated Blair's reduction of crime rates- only 6% when the reduction has been 44%? Something is not right here. Maybe it's the fact that the media has swung so heavily to the right since 1997. Media guru Roy Greenslade calculates that rightward leaning papers(Times, Telegraph, Sun, Star, Mail) account for 76% of readers while only 24% read left leaning ones(Guardian, Independent, Mirror, FT). Maybe Tony Blair should echo the lament of Berthold Brecht(pictured) who once complained: 'There's nothing wrong with the play- it's the audience who should be changed'.

Just one issue... The Independent might describe itself as centre-left, but it is at least as vitriolic against Blair as the Mail or the Express, and more so than the Times.
Fair point Bob but the key test is who they'd advise voting for in a general election; I suspect Times would go Tory and Indie Labour.
blairs a failure, lets hope he go's soon.
When Thatcher left power after a decade in the job, inflation was over 9%, interest rates were 14% and we were entering a recession.

So, Blair, with no recessions, appears to have done better than that.
Skipper, it is rather significant that you chose to only mention Blair's alleged successes in your little piece. Not once did you mention ANY of the numerous negatives that could legitimately have been laid at his door. With a similarly selective approach one might even be able to construct a plausible case in Adolf Hitler's defence! For goodness sake, take off those "New Labour" blinkers! How can you even pretend to assume the airs and graces of a serious political commentator? Three words you should note - objectivity, objectivity, objectivity.
"a country more easy-going than the one he inherited" - spot on!

btw the Indie supported the LibDems in 2005 I think. Its nasty strident doom mongering recent style has earned it the nickname 'the Daily Mail for people who recycle'. Not everything's got better!
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I've criticised Blair on many occasions. The point of my piece was to question the judgement of those who failed to acknowledge his achievements- hence the tone of my post. And, I might point out, I am prepared to put my name to my opinions whilst you are not...
It's laughable to suppose that any "serious political commentator" has as her motto "objectivity, objectivity, objectivity". What does "objectivity" even mean when it comes to politics?
How do you know anonymous is a 'her', I wonder? My guess it was a more regular commenter from the right of the spectrum. Anonymous comments are a bit pathetic though, so best to ignore seems to me.
Anonymous is partially right, but Skipper is entitled to his view. Nonetheless his Hitler point is well made, listing a few positives and expecting people to be grateful when the country is in ruins is a bit optimistic. It would be rather like being a Nazi Party official walking round the wasteland of May 1945 and waffling on about "full employment and the magnificent intangible that is the volksgemeinshaft". The people are right to doubt the charlatans.

The problem with the crime figures is that no one seriously believes them. 44% fall in crime? Are you sure?! Very selective, probably manipulative and at worst outright dishonest...this will be Blair's legacy, and the country is well rid of the clod.
I've always held to the view that when people-like Anon- start citing the Nazis in support of their arguments they are not worth very much, if anything. The 44% figure is the official from the Home Office but you think maybe this has been invented? This would mean all the senior Home Office civil servants-some even subscribing to views similar to yours(recall I was a civil servant)- would be complicit.
Using historical precedent or comparison is a fairly standard tactic in debate, and it would be bizarre if we to exclude using Germany 1933-45 just because we didn't like some of the things their Government did. I have always found the Nazis a very useful comparison where Nu Labor is concerned.

Are the Home Office capable of lying? Yes. Rather answers your point. Statistics can be manipulated for whatever purpose the author chooses. The pseudo-unemployment figures are proof of the possibilities. Most senior civil servants do what they are told, and their masters have been proven to be liars. Anyone who believes that crime is nearly half what it was a decade ago needs to clear the sawdust out of their head.
Ah Michael once again puts his finger straight onto the nub. The similarities between Britain in 2007 and Germany in 1945 are so striking that it's a scandal they're not more regularly commented upon. But that's just because of the conspiracy between the press and the government which Paul Staines (aka Guido) and a few other bold freedom fighters are always trying to alert us to. Skip, don't you realise that all those prosperous, relaxed people you see walking the streets of Manchester and Britain’s other cities and towns are employed by HMG? They are all, of course, complicit in this great conspiracy.

Would that we could turn back the clock to those halcyon days of the mid 1990s before the jackboot of New Labour descended upon this once decent land...
To be fair the NHS now employs more than a million (mostly useless) people, making it the second biggest single employer in the world behind the Indian Railway Company. And this is just the people who work for a part of the state(there are many millions more who get paid by it for doing nothing but existing in their present squalor). It is not a lie to suggest that the leftist establishment have created a huge block of people who rely entirely on state patronage for their existence. A sort of a selling peerages in reverse if you like.

The comparison with Hitler is perhaps harsh. If only his Government hadn't banned handguns, Blair could do the decent thing and save us paying the most undeserved pension imaginable.
Michael(and anon too for that matter)
Getting back to the original point of my post, I wonder how many achievements Hitler could have flagged up after his 1000 year Reich ended just a tad prematurely: an unblemished record of economic growth? a successful foreign policy? a harmonious record on minorities? a minimum wage? renewed public services? The comparison is just laughable.
Launching foreign wars in contravention of established international convention(at least Hitler went through the pretence of the Anschluss, Blair could be accused of no such planning), endless discussion of the Third Way, constant crackdowns on the nation's "unruly youth", state sponsored pseudo employment programs for young people, centralisation of authority combined with bureaucratisation, meddling with the constitution and attempting to subvert the various layers of the constitution(for Diana read Hindenburg), making concessions to terrorists(for the IRA read ustasha). In fact in many ways Brown is Himmler. Uncharismatic, pedantic and ever so slightly strange. Prescott is the best Hermann Goering look a like I have ever seen(at least Goering was more intelligent), and John Reid is an excellent Heydrich(less competent, ugly and unfortunately not been assassinated).

New Labour, New Reich. I guess that makes the million or so NHS "workers" the Herenvolk.
Michael Re your two last comments:
1. Crime reduction statistics of 44% are based on The British Crime Survey which is independent of government and based on intervi8ews with 40,000 people chosen at random. it is recognised by all criminologists as the most reliable guide to what is happening available.
2. Your second post comparing New Labour to Hitler and his gang, rather proves my point of the absurdity of such comparisons, I think.
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