Looking back, was New Labour a good thing?

Is it bad to laugh?

To be fair, it’s also hard to judge things until they are completed.  Tony B himself once said that the project of new labour would only be complete when the part ‘learned to love Mandelson’. I never miss a chance to link to a Beach Boys song written by Charlie Manson.

I can imagine Mandy listening to that song on repeat whilst visualising the love of the labour party. Presumably in some kind of Manson style violent harem of manipulation and desire.

I’m not saying that Peter Mandelson is exactly the same as Charles Manson.

I’m just saying the two names close together in the hope that the image will haunt you for a while.

Anyway. New Labour.

Honestly, I’m ill informed, but I have my instincts.

First of all I think most people are pretty much dead set against the reforms put in place in many fields by New Labour. In education and health in particular (the fields I vicariously know most about due to my mother and aunts) they have a reputation as adding targets, measurables, competition and general stats driven nastiness to the field in a way never before seen.

But to hear it said by the people who’ve been working there a long time, it’s not perfect, and occasionally upsettingly inefficient, but when you compare it to pre ’97, it’s great leaps forward.

There’s examples of these everywhere. Things done by the government that have a bad reputation, but have in fact seen massive improvements on the time before.

But for me, that’s not enough.

I’m glad they got the tories out, but I haven’t voted for them once since I was eligible to.

Because I still seek a party on the left.

I still wonder whether Labour really did have to take Clause IV out of their consitution in order to win. Did they really have to not just rebrand as, but become, an un-socialist party to get into power?

It’s a thought that baffles me. I was twelve in the first half of ’97. I remember not quite understanding the news, but knowing that I was disappointed. I remember wanting a socialist party to exist in this country.

Of course, many people still do, and many are rising up at this particular time.

The Greens are gaining ground particularly by branding themselves as a current, relevant left wing proposition. The Lib Dems are embracing redistributive taxation so that people think of them as lefties too.

But honestly, the only way I can see New Labour being a good thing, is if the current collapse of support for the party doesn’t just revivify the Tories, and introduces us to a genuinely representative multi-party state.

One with a left that is audible.

And let’s not forget the war, (or that the Tories would have done the same but worse).

Plus the fact that they’ve made Charlie Manson the most powerful man in the country.

Time for something newer.

Illustration by Adam.


About Alex Ava

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Questions by Justin. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Looking back, was New Labour a good thing?

  1. Richard Hock says:

    You’re probably going to throw a pint in my face for this, but to be honest, I think fields like health and education are some of New Labour (or Nu-Lie-Boar, as I believe is the fashion in comments sections)’s greatest achievements.

    Remember the state of the hospitals under the Tories? They were actively closing down hospitals and dismantling the NHS. Same goes for schools. Sure start, a reduction in massive class sizes. nursery places for all, etc. Yes, some of the bureaucracy was a little bit stifling, but compared to what they were, education and health are a hell of a lot better because of Labour investing in them.

    I reckon he might be biased, but I might leave you with the words of Neil “Well, all-right!” Kinnock…

    ‘And, tell me, when did you last see a newspaper photograph of a bucket catching rainwater in a school? And when did you last see a hospital corridor with a trolley on which people were lying unattended?’

    Pint. Face.

  2. Alex says:

    Erm. Did you read the above? You’re saying waht I was trying to say. I think people still like to think of it as being dreadful, but on the accounts of reports from inside the hospitals and schools, it’s ‘great leaps forward’, as above.

    Labour bashing has become an easy and popular sport. I’m actually trying to note the successes before I join in with the bashing. And you’ll note it’s mostly directed at Mandy, who i don’t like. Particularly because of the power he’s getting focussed upon him at the moment.

    I don’t want to appear partisan, but I want to make it clear that I think Labour’s role in sorting out education and hospitals and many other public services has lead to a great improvement in the state of our land.

    Improvements that the Tories would never have made, and that they’re likely to attempt to repeal if they get into power.

    Don’t listen to too much bullshit from either side. That’s what I’m getting at.

    And Mr Hock, you’ll only get a pint in the face these days if you keep on not noting my attempts at growing moderate in my middle age. xx

  3. Hock says:

    Ummm. So I thought I’d read the above. Think I missed out a vital paragraph. Sorry.

    On a lighter note, have you seen this?:


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