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New Labour

Greasy Pole : Life, death or suicide?

Greasy Pole

Thanks to New Labour’s trumpeted policy of being “tough on crime” administered by the likes of Jack Straw and David Blunkett (they never actually got around to the other bit about tackling the cause of it all) there are something over 85,000 people in prison in this country (also, they never sorted out whether over-crowded prisons proved that they had succeeded, or failed, to beat crime). At present none of the prisoners is allowed to vote; in any case if they were not banned the fact that they come from homes all over means that the effect would be dispersed between many constituencies and so unlikely to affect any single result. Which has not lessened the interest, not to say at times passion, over whether anyone who has been locked up for offending against some of the accepted norms of property society, by theft or violence, should have a say in how that society is run day-to-day.

Europe

Getting better

It could not have been easy for them but Tory Party activists did an effective job in denying that there was any genuine suffering in this country while their party was in power. It was, they argued, largely a delusion. Millions of people were imagining they were unemployed, there weren't really hundreds of applicants for one job. Tens of thousands were being evicted from their homes because they imagined they couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage. Beggars on the streets were actually rich people, taking time off from fat cat jobs as commodity brokers or financial consultants. This general idea—that anyone experiencing the more extreme kind of poverty had only themselves to blame—was popular enough to help keep the Tories in power for 18 years. And that in itself was the cause of a kind of suffering for at least one man which, although real enough in its effect, had its origins in a delusion as powerful as the one which afflicted and comforted the Tory faithful.

Editorial: The side show

Reform of the House of Lords, changing the voting system, elected local mayors, these are the issues the politicians and media have wanted us to get interested in recently. But why, when a recession is looming, are they trying to get us so worked up about constitutional issues?

The experience of the three previous recessions since 1973 has taught politicians that they can do nothing to stop a recession coming. All they can do is brace themselves and wait for it to pass by. There is, however, one field where a government does have some power to change things—the constitution. The Blair government has been exploiting this to the full, in a bid to avoid losing credibility through appearing to be completely powerless.

Greasy Pole: Variable standards

Greasy Pole

It may not have happened, that civilised life in this country was shaken to its roots when Peter Mandelson resigned, although to judge by some of the media comment something very like that had happened. He forgot that his government are always telling the rest of us that we can't have what we want - and what they promised us - for a while; that we have to be patient.

This variable standard extends beyond Peter Mandelson, to the other players in this latest episode of sordid double dealing, who have the kind of embarrassing political past which now, in the days of ascendant New Labour, they must be desperate to bury.

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