Where stands New Labour?

D OC donaloc at peterquinn.com
Mon Sep 23 08:05:26 MDT 2002


I never liked entryism as a tactic but Phil's plague on both houses'
approach is surely wrong. Phil just argued that Blair for instance, has
made wlefare benefit cuts and this is another reason to reject the British
Labour Party. But this is wrong. Major improvements have been made in a
wide range of welfare benefits under Blair, including pensions, social
security payments to the diabled, longterm unemployed and many other
groups. Huge new public spending programmes have begun in education and
health and the status of Britain's socialised National Health Service is
now much mroe secure (the lasty Tory govt was preparing it for
privatisation).

These have been the 'positive' highlights under the New Labour clique.
Equally you could point (as does Michael Keaney) towards the incursion of
PFI into the Public Sector. The central feature of New Labour has been
economic conservatism - their defence of the NHS and Public education must
be seen in this context. In effect, Blairism is the ideological result of 18
years of Tory dominance - they have lost the will to push a radical agenda.
Just look at 'fox-hunting', etc, they are scared of losing power and are
incapable of pushing even small issues without serious foot-dragging. Blair
sells his retention of orthodoxy as 'the third way' but its not
ideologically driven (IMO). I am open to suggestions but that is how I see
them today.

In my four years living and studying in England, it was very apparent that
anyone serious about implementing anything near a radical agenda will have
to fully use the potential which the Labour party offers.

I see Michael Keaney's post re: water rate bills. It is ironic that just as
the Brits are about to force the six county executive to implement
water-charging, its importance in British/Scottish terms becomes apparent.
In a leaked paper (there should be courses run on 'the well-timed leak') it
was disclosed that a New Labour Minister had effectively 'threatened' the
six-county Executive that if it didn't commit to making the water service
'self-sustainable' (i.e. charge for water) that both depreciation and
capital asset costs would be included in the total Departmental Expenditure
Limits.

In effect, it would limit the ability of Departments to fulfil budgetary
plans [believe it or not the British Government not only controls
Departments through how much they subvent their spending but sets notional
limits on their total spending itself - this is how PFI is being pushed -
PPP/PFI projects become 'off-balance' sheet and don't count towards that
total spend]. This threat hangs over the Executive today - SF has rejected
the move as 'coercive'.

D OC.


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