GOVERNMENT ADMITS NEW CABINETS WILL MEET IN SECRET (Camden New Journal, 11 April)
BLAIR ATTACKS “SNOBS” WHO DERIDE WEALTH (Times, 7 July)
SCHOOL TEST MANIA “KILLING CREATIVITY” (Independent, 15 July)
These recent headlines neatly sum up the activity of the Labour government in three particular areas—constitutional reform, enterprise culture and education.
Labour’s constitutional reforms are only a red herring, to allow it to pose as a reforming party even though it is unable and unwilling to deliver any social reforms (and in fact is continuing to whittle them away, as the disabled, single mothers and the unemployed can testify). But their constitutional changes are not even democratic. Instead of the pure and simple abolition of the House of Lords they are planning to turn it from a mixture of hereditary and appointed Lords into a House of Appointees only. The headline above refers to one of their proposals that will make local government less democratic: the replacing of the present system of committees meeting in public by an elected Mayor presiding over a cabinet that meets in secret.
Addressing a meeting of the British Venture Capital Association in July, Blair sounded exactly like Thatcher when he denounced most people’s disdain for so-called self-made businessmen and women as “unhealthy”. Instead of looking down on them he said, “we need society as a whole to applaud you”, and he pledged himself to instil such a healthy attitude to these cockroach capitalists even in schools. There can be no doubt about it. Thatcher’s programme of encouraging “enterprise culture” to pollute every aspect of life is in safe hands under Blair.
On education, the Labour government has made things worse for school students and teachers: testing, competition and tables of winners and losers have been extended even further than under the Tories. The headline here introduced a report of a speech by the author of children’s books David Almond who summed up Labour’s education policies as:
Get kids into school fast! Get them assessed while they are in nappies! Get them going into literacy clubs, numeracy clubs, lunchtime learning clubs, holiday learning clubs! Holidays? Let’s cut them. School day? Let’s lengthen it. Homework? One hour? No, let’s make it two, eh! Let’s see them, children and teachers, work, work, work.
Inevitably, this has led to a fourth headline: “Exams criticised as ‘child abuse’. Children driven to suicide, reports Mark Henderson” (Times, 28 July).
Labour once used to be a reformist party which claimed to be able to impose socialist values—democracy, equality, co-operation not competition—on capitalist society. It was an impossible project of course which was bound to fail because capitalism can only work as capitalism. Now Labour is an openly capitalist party trying to impose capitalist values on those who haven’t absorbed them.
How right Socialists were to have had nothing to do with the Labour Party from the start.