- Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:13 am
All good and worthy achievements. I remember life under Major and Thatcher, where the closest you got to a government intervention was at about sticking plaster level (Blue Peter appeal to buy dialysis machines for the NHS? Cones Hotline and Citizen's Charter?). However...
First, there's the 'what do you expect, a medal?' reaction on certain topics. The provision of many things on that list was a huge improvement on what went before, but was seen by many as not a great gain, but to be expected. Or, in the case of things such as free museum entry, 'not for the likes of us' and an irrelevance.
Second, as we've seen all too often, we've a population who are happy to believe the narrative fed to them even when contradictory evidence is right in front of them. Where any attempt to redress the balance is countered with "Oh, don't believe them. They're the government - you know, politicians. All liars". So even if your local school or hospital is doing fine, you're told that the system is falling apart and you believe it.
Third, as much as the Labour government had a firm grip on things, it was helped by a frankly useless opposition and a generally buoyant economy. Sure, people griped and grumbled about things, but as long as there was cheap credit and everything seemed on the up and up, they remained just grumbles. The real explosion of hatred, intolerance and 'strivers vs skivers' came with the crash. Which also dovetailed with the emergence of a young and energetic opposition, contrasted with a decidedly long in the tooth Labour administration. While Blair had been facing Hague, IDS, Howard etc, he a) could link them back in the public mind to the Major years, and b) knew that as long as the going was generally good, people wouldn't want anything to particularly change.
Fourth, Iraq. Sorry, but it is an issue. It was the dumbest, most ill thought out piece of foreign policy guff since Suez. And that isn't the hindsight talking because it was said at the time. It was badly planned, had no rationale beyond resource grab (sure, Saddam was a dictator and a baddie, but I don't see us lining up to invade Belarus or Burma any time soon). It was about the oil. Not a thought was given to reconstruction, and we didn't even bother to count the dead (unless they were on our side). It damaged out international standing, fuelled racial tension and threat levels at home, and before anyone says that there was no alternative, yes there was. Do nothing. You know, there's a reason the SOE/OSS shelved all their 'Let's kill Hitler' plans in about 1943? Think about it.
Fifth, the authoritarianism. Not just nationally but internally within the party. And it got worse over time.
These things have to be acknowledged and confronted. Especially on the seeming inability to break the media narrative, because that is what I consider to be the biggest barrier.
"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." - Gore Vidal.
"I proved that you're wrong. And if you're wrong, I'm right." - Aaron Eckhart.