UNFASHIONABLE though it may seem, it’s time someone pointed out a fact that most commentators – and certainly most of the blogosphere – have been avoiding: the government has done a good job in the last 11 years and Britain is a far better place as a result.
As Nick Raynsford said in his New Statesman article last week:
Compared with the position we inherited in 1997, today’s Britain is a better, fairer, more successful, more confident and more tolerant society.
He’s right. We’ve been kicked around so much, and so severely, recently that it’s almost easy to forget that we don’t have to take it.
Remember the sky-high inflation under the Tories? The record mass unemployment that was “a price well worth paying” for questionable economic returns? Remember the TWO Tory-built recessions? Remember the millions of workers encouraged to claim incapacity benefits by the Tories as a way of massaging the unemployment statistics? Remember the days before the minimum wage, when employers could pay their workers peanuts, and do it with the government’s blessing? Remember the legions of school-leavers put on the scrap heap instead of being offered training and further education? Remember the double-digit interest rates? Remember the scrapping of the pensions-earnings link without anything put in place to raise pensioners’ living standards?
‘Dave’ likes to gloss over the fact that he is a (whisper it) Tory, because he doesn’t want us to remember his own party’s record, nor the part he played in advising the worst Chancellor in modern history.
Every government faces difficult challenges, as do our own citizens.
But Britain is far better off with Labour than it could ever be with the Tories. Their smug complacency and arrogance – evidenced by some of their members’ comments on this and other sites – helped to shatter our society and our economy before. It would be a tragedy if they were to be allowed to do so again.
It’s been a bruising year so far for Labour. Government is difficult. Life is difficult for many people.
But Labour can win a fourth term.
We can win a fourth term if we believe we are up to the challenge, if we start making the case for Labour afresh, acknowledging where we need to make changes while avoiding sounding defensive about our record in government, which is something we can and should be proud of.
The next election has yet to be won or lost. The people, not the commentariat, will decide its outcome. The prize for Labour as a party is a fourth term in office. The prize for Britain as a nation is growth, prosperity and security, and its deliverance from a victorious Tory Party which has yet to learn from its mistakes in office, and so is doomed to repeat them if it is ever allowed back.
UPDATE at 3.25 pm on Friday: My, I seem to have upset somebody’s applecart today, don’t I? I can just see the headlines: “Labour minister thinks the government deserves re-election – shock!” It seems there are a few people out there who don’t like these Labour types actually defending themselves, or pointing out that the Tory Party is utterly unfit to govern. Get used to it folks – there’s plenty more where this came from.