Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Labour Legacy

The 13 years of Labour rule will probably not be looked back at with much fondness by history. The Iraq War will dominate closely followed by the massive billion pound bail out handed to the banks resulting in a breath taking deficit that will echo for a generation.
What we must remember is the time before the Iraq War and what the Labour Party did for the lower end of society.
The minimum wage was resisted by the then ruling Conservatives and business refused to introduce it but one of the first laws Labour bought in was the minimum a person could be paid for an hours work.
Much howling of protest followed but businesses didn't close and the unemployment queue didn't expand and people were actually paid a decent wage.
The other thing Labour should be thanked for is the introduction of Tax Credits which topped up the wages of anyone on low earnings. The two worked alongside each other and made millions of families financially better off.
Shamefully, these innovations both came in the first of Labour's three Parliaments and then they got bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq which dominated the rest of their time in power.
Labour did much wrong and post 9/11, Tony Blair's true face was revealed as extremely ugly, but these two things alone show that before it all became about Blair, expenses, wars, leadership battles, G W Bush, bankers, Iraq inquires, and helicopters in Afghanistan, the Labour Party was doing a good job of making the less well off a little more comfortable.
It should reflect on missed opportunities but the test of any leader is the question, 'Are we any better off at the end of their time then we were at the beginning?' Many in this country are but this will be lost in the Labour legacy of Iraq which was such a monumental mistake, it deserves to be.


Cheezy said...

That's a pretty good summary of the 'hospital pass' that was thrown to Brown by Blair. That smarmy b&stard (who must be chuckling to himself right now) stepped down just as things were about to go totally tits up...

The one major thing I'd add to the Labour government's list of 'debits' would be the erosion of civil liberties that we've experienced over the last few years. Like a lot of politicians who view themselves as 'centre left', they've got a nasty authoritarian streak (esp. the likes of Blunkett, Clarke, Reid... all the Home Secretaries, basically).

Cheezy said...

The last government wasn’t all bad news, of course. Sometimes you have to go away for a while to appreciate change. When I first really experienced London in 1993 – after 14 years of Thatcherism – London was a dark, depressed, and squallid place. There was ‘cardboard city’ and way more homeless people (than today) sleeping in doorways; there were squats in every street; Kings Cross was full of junkie prostitutes asking for ‘business’; it was impossible for a 21 year old (like me) to get a job except serving in a pub; the streets generally seemed pretty dangerous… It was all a bit grim. And up north was obviously worse. When I next came to London in 2004 – after 7 years of New Labour – it still had all the usual ‘big city problems’ of course, but it generally seemed a better, brighter, more optimistic place. It would be facile to attribute all of the changes to the government, but it would be churlish to deny them at least some of the credit for the change.

The Ghost of Richard Nixon said...

And so the canonization of the left begins.

Fair enough. Especially since the Conservatives need to play nice for the moment while they manage a coalition government. But make no mistake, they will be conciliatory and will compromise for a year or so in order for the public to fall for the kinder conservatives. Then, the new PM calls an election in which the suckered public votes in a majority for the conservatives, destroying the need for the coalition. And you know what happens then, right?


Strap in, blokes. You're in for some punishment.

Anonymous said...

now that doesn't sound like Richard Millhouse Nixon...


Falling on a bruise said...

I was always shocked by the cardboard city but it has got better and Labour does have to take credit for that. The erosion of civil liberties is a big minus against it though and there were some labour ministers that i just took an instant dislike to, such as david blunkett and hazel blears but luckily they ended up giving us a good reason to dislike them. i'm not liking george osbourne at the moment for no real reason aspart from he looks smug.

Im not sure how the fixed terms work richard but it seems that the libs and cons will be stuck together for the next 4 years regardless.