As it was in the beginning…

I’ve been looking back to the beginning of the Blair regime – that time of misplaced hope, ‘glad, confident morning’, etc. – and was struck by a number of things in the New Labour manifesto. This in particular now strikes a rather chilling note:

“New Labour is the political arm of none other than the British people as a whole.”

I mean WTF? Isn’t that the kind of thing totalitarian regimes say about themselves? At least we can’t pretend we weren’t told.

Then there’s already an indication of a desire to play fast and loose with the legal system:

“…fast-track punishment for persistent young offenders by halving the time from arrest to sentencing”

Note the missing stage of trial and actually needing to be found guilty. As ever it’s hard to believe so many of them are trained lawyers.

Some stuff, though is almost comic in the mismatch between what they said and what they actually did:

“…In health policy, we will safeguard the basic principles of the NHS, which we founded, but will not return to the top-down management of the 1970s. So we will keep the planning and provision of healthcare separate, but put planning on a longer-term, decentralised and more co-operative basis. The key is to root out unnecessary administrative cost, and to spend money on the right things – frontline care…”

and

“…Over-centralisation of government and lack of accountability was a problem in governments of both left and right. Labour is committed to the democratic renewal of our country through decentralisation and the elimination of excessive government secrecy…”

But best of all is the list of 10 pledges, of which this is number nine:

“We will clean up politics, decentralise political power throughout the United Kingdom and put the funding of political parties on a proper and accountable basis.”

Yeah, right. Maybe it was a typo and they meant ‘We will clean up in politics”.

Whilst shame keeps its watch, virtue is not wholly extinguished in the heart; nor will moderation be utterly exiled from the minds of tyrants.
Edmund Burke

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