Wednesday, 12 May 2010
RIP New Labour
A week after John Major's disgraced and discredited government finally shuffled out of office I was being interviewed on a sofa by Davina McCall for the Big Breakfast. I'd just been turfed out of my camp on the proposed site of Manchester Airport's Second Runway and Davina wanted to know what we were going to do next. "Well" I replied, "We've got a new government. Hopefully they'll listen to us and start taking the environment seriously."
Oh how naive I was!
New Labour not only had no intention of stopping new runways in the north of England, they were planning them in the south as too. Jets were good, they made money. But the best jets of all, like the best schools, and the best hospitals, were private ones.
If I had to pick one object that typified where New Labour went wrong it would be the private jet.
Private jets carrying the Master of High Finance around the world to convince us all that Greed is Good and prosperity is round the corner......and private jets taking terror suspects to torture and illegal detention.
When Blair eventually left office he even got is own so he could fly round the world with his message of hope, which included trying to tell the world to take Climate Change serious. Seriously.
When New Labour came into power in 1997 those jets were very bust ferrying people to and from South East Asia as financial turmoil gripped the markets there. New Labour listened to the Masters of High Finance and refused to let the Tiger economies rescue their own banks. "Don't worry, it can't happen here" we were told. Ten years later we are in the same boat as the Indonesians, the Koreans and all the rest.
And what was New Labour doing on the eve of the storm braking? Getting ready to launch a crackdown on Incapacity Benefit. Six months later sick banks were being handed billions to stave off total disaster. Socialism is alive and well, but only for the rich.
Public finances, already groaning at the cost of privately financed schools, hospital and prisons finally gave up the pretense of being balanced and sank inexorably and terminally into the red.
And so here we are, in debt up to our eyeballs, with two and a half million officially unemployed, a million odd under-employed.
Thirteen wasted years have come to an end and I really can't be bothered to get upset about a Tory PM as it's hard to see how they could be worse.
They've allowed BP to drill for oil in the deep water west of Shetland (and set the Security Services on Greenpeace when they tried to stop this) using technology that has just gone disastrously wrong in Gulf of Mexico. They've tried and fail to get us to grow GM crops, they've planned a new generation of coal fired power stations. So much for putting "the environment at the heart of policy-making."
They've bungled two wars, one of them definitely illegal. They've fluffed electoral reform.
They've ................ gone. That's all that counts.
Now, will you give us the Labour Party back please?