Thursday, March 17, 2005

New Labour, New Danger

"Positive policies win elections not negative campaigning." Tony Blair, 1997.

When New Labour won the 1997 general election, I have to admit that I was one of those people who felt a genuine sense of optimism. 18 years under the Conservatives was far too long and it looked as if British politics really would change for the better. Mr Blair seemed to be making a lot of sense to me and I trusted that he would be true to his word. It would be churlish not to acknowledge that Mr Blair's government has done some good work, introducing the minimum wage for example. This is not to say that I voted for New Labour mind you. As I've said before I've always thought of myself as somewhere in between and I've voted that way in every general election since I turned 18.

Today on the news I saw the press conference at which Mr Blair and Mr Brown unveiled a new pre-election poster. It is on the Labour Party website if you didn't see it. Positive campaigning?
Then I looked at the Latest News on the site. Today, 17th March 2005, I counted the various stories and found that 19 stories (titles or summaries, I didn't actually read them all, that would be silly) contained critisism of either the Tories or the Liberals. Only 7 stories did not contain such critisism in either the title or the summary. Positive campaigning?

I know that this has been remarked on before but it seems to me that this campaign is already developing into a particularly negative affair. It can only be a matter of time before a well funded, but unconnected group, starts to produce TV adverts accusing Mr Howard of being a cowardly liar during his time in Vietnam.

And, yes, I do know that I'm always complaining on this site, but then I'm not asking anyone to let me run the country. A couple of other points about the 1997 Labour manifesto. I means complaints, obviously.

Labour Party Manifesto, 1997 - We will clean up politics (courtesy of the BBC, what would I do without them.)

"We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. An independent commission on voting systems will be appointed early to recommend a proportional alternative to the first-past-the-post system."

When is this happening?

"Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in government and defective policy decisions. The Scott Report on arms to Iraq revealed Conservative abuses of power. We are pledged to a Freedom of Information Act, leading to more open government, and an independent National Statistical Service."

I don't think I need to point out the ironies in this extract.

My genuine sense of optimism has gone missing. If anyone finds it, could I ask them to email me and let me know where it is. Thanks.

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