Monday, March 28, 2005

I's Impotent but I Still Get General Elections....

Some ramblings from the last few weeks!
Dear Mr Blair

I am concerned about your requests for spoof examples of Michael Howard jumping on bandwagons. This smacks of panic on your part as in reality he has identified a number of issues which are important to the electorate and has developed credible and popular policies to deal with them.

For your part, you have been forced back onto relying on your so-called successful handling of the economy and railing against imagined £35 million of ‘Tory cuts’. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that what they are actually saying is that they are planning to spend 1% less compared to the sainted Gordon’s plan for 5 years in the future. Instead of increasing government expenditure by 5% over that period, the Conservatives plan to increase it by 4%. This is a statistical fact which you are seeking to distort – indeed you spent many years in opposition simply banging on about “Tory cuts” which never actually materialised. Indeed, in real terms they increased government spending in the nineties and you benefited from this level of spending for the first two years of your ill-starred administration.

It is also a statistical fact that you have taxed and spent on an unprecedented scale since you have been in office. The question New Labour has to answer is has that money been well-spent? All the indications are that the tax payer has not received value for money. You will have to raise at least £12 billion extra in taxation in the next year. How do you justify this?


Sixty-five years ago, in the May 1940 House of Commons debates which saw the political consequences of appeasement come home to roost, Harold Macmillan cried out: "Will someone speak for England?" And Leo Amery quoted Oliver Cromwell: "Be gone with you for all the good you have done. In the name of God, go."
Is it over the top to say I sometimes feel like that now, watching the political class babble away about what might happen in 2011? Will someone speak for the little people? Please?
In the interests of balance I have opted to receive email newsletters from the three main UK political parties. For some reason the Labour one always starts "Dear Supporter" or sometimes "Dear Colleague". I think I may have got one from Gordon Brown that actually said "Dear Comrade". Not for him the modern language of New Labour!
So I was fascinated to receive this recent missive from the Prime Minister - yes, he writes to me too - when Michael Howard had got him on the backfoot about Mrs Dixon's shoulder operation:
"Labour is the party of the NHS. Always was. Always will be. The Tories opposed the setting up of the NHS. They have opposed the investment and reforms of this Labour government. Yesterday Michael Howard highlighted one case, that of a patient who had her operation cancelled several times. Where that happens, it is unacceptable. In a health service that treats one million people every 36 hours, not everyone will get perfect treatment. But for Mr Howard to take one case and use it to undermine the whole of the NHS is typical and wrong. I welcome the fact that the election debate is beginning to focus on the public services.
"People will not easily forget the cuts and privatisation programme that undermined our hospitals for years. With Labour, spending is up, waiting times are down, standards of care are improving."
There are a number of interesting points here, not least that he talks about the "election debate" beginning to focus on the public services. So there is going to be an election? Well there's a surprise! More importantly, he was continuing the spin already put on the story by the odious Dr Reid who tried to claim that anyone who even remotely criticises the performance of the NHS is somehow being disloyal to all its hardworking staff.
I don't remember the same sensitivities in 1992 when the Labour Party (for that is what it was called back in those days) tried to use Jennifer's Ear for exactly the same purposes. And it almost worked for them until the cretinous Kinnock opened his mouth just once too often at that memorable Sheffield rally.