My favourite Labour Blogger , Ministry of Truth, has given a list of 50 achievements by the Blair Labour Government:
1. Lowest inflation since the 60s
2. Low interest rates
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage
4. Record police numbers in England and Wales
8. Funding for every pupil in England to double (since 1997) by 2007-08
9. Lowest unemployment for 29 years
10. Written off up to 100 per cent of debt owed by poorest countries
11. 78,700 more nurses
12. 27,400 more doctors
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice at any time
18. New Deal - helped over a million people into work
19. Local government funding has increased by a third in real terms
21. Free entry to all national museums and galleries
22. Overseas aid budget more than doubled
24. Child benefit up 25 per cent since 1997
25. Created Sure Start to help children from low income households
27. £200 winter fuel payment to pensioners & extra £100 for over-80s
28. The biggest rolling stock replacement programme ever seen on our railways
30. Over 30,000 more teachers in England schools
32. All workers now have a right to 4 weeks’ paid holiday
33. Record rises in the state pension
34. 700,000 children lifted out of relative poverty
35. Introduced child tax credit giving more money to parents
37. Cut long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent
38. Free nursery places for three and four-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales
39. Free fruit for all four to six-year-olds at school
40. Free school milk for five, six and seven-year-olds in Wales
41. Record police numbers in Scotland
44. Free TV licences for over-75s
46. Halved maximum waiting times for NHS operations
47. Free local bus travel for over-60s
48. Record number of students in higher education
50. Five, six and seven-year-olds in class sizes of 30 or less
It looks a pretty good list. (And doesn't even include the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.) Remembering what happened to me under Mrs Thatcher, I particularly welcome number 9. If a Lib Dem government had achieved all this I'd be quite happy, although there's not been much done for the environment.
So why are Labour so unpopular???? It's not just a question of voting intentions, it's a matter that a lot of people loathe Blair and his government. Here's a few thoughts:
a) We don't like the government because the people at the top are not very likeable. After all, they don't even like each other. It's said that sincerity is important in politics- once you can fake that, you can do anything. Trouble for Labour is that much of the public now only perceives them as insincere and this perception tarnishes everything they do.
b) It's all those other "Achievements" that are the problem. Invading Iraq hasn't exactly increased Labour's public support. All that sleaze. Every flop from the Millennium Dome onwards.All those measures that erode democracy and our civil freedoms. The abject failures of the CSA and the Immigration Service. All the things brilliantly mentioned here at Bloggerheads.
c) There were always going to be some Tories who disliked Blair on principle. And the Thatcher years made us more of a "me, me, me...." society, not caring about any of those 50 items unless they benefit us directly as individuals.
d) Finally , Blair has torn his party away from it's roots. Those roots are unhappy.
It's ironic that in a party so seemingly obsessed with spin, that it's managed to obscure the respectable list of things that it has achieved. Let this be a lesson for us in the Lib Dems for the future - let's stay honest and modest ,even if that means owning up to the occasional failure.