A recent post outlines the many failings of the UK's post- war Conservative governments. A friend suggests that, in fairness, I should construct a similar list for Labour. Although I suspect he is a former Tory supporter, he speculated that the list would be shorter. It is (though I'm open to suggestions for additions), though largely a list of missed opportunities rather than deliberate errors.
1. 1. Over-centralisation in creating and in running of nationalised industries.
2. 2. Antagonism towards employee representation on the boards of both publicly and privately-owned industries. This came largely from the unions, who preferred to preserve their monopoly of negotiating with the employers, thus preserving conflict rather than generating co-operation.
3. 3. Disastrous partition of India at
independence. Perhaps this was not so much the responsibility of the Labour
Government, but rather the cumulation of the policies of “divide and rule” carried
out by Imperial governments over the decades, in generating antagonism between previously
happily co-habiting Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other faith groups. Labour were , however, "in charge" at the time.
4. 4. Failure to participate in the setting up of European Coal and Steel Community, Common Market, (Gaitskell’s “1000 years of history” speech,) Harold Wilson’s “re-negotiation”, ambivalence to EU membership in the referendum - and counting. .
5. 5. Failure to devalue in 1964. Instead, fighting to preserve the $US/£ exchange rate at $2.80 to £1. Hence the plan to build a “New Jerusalem” was unnecessarily constrained by a constant battle to balance external payments. Defeat followed in 1967 when the £1 was devalued to $2.40. Under Mrs Thatcher it actually reached parity (£1=$1) but Tories prefer not to mention that. It now bumps along at around £1=$1.20. So much for World Beating Britain over the last half century.
6. 6. Continued failure to promote co-operation rather than conflict in industrial relations (“In Place of Strife” reform proposals, again largely scuppered by the trade unions.)
7. 7. Blair/Brown Governments’ failure to use their massive majorities to achieve:
a) Substantial devolution (eg home rule with tax-raising powers) to Scotland and Wales;
b) Electoral reform;
c) Devolution of more powers to English regions or local government;
d) Democratically elected second chamber;
e) Reform of company law to include responsibilities to community and employees as well as profits for share-holders.
8. 8. PFI. This scheme for enticing the private sector to fund public projects (hospitals, schools) was actually introduced by John Major’s Conservative government, but used extensively by the Blair/Brown governments in a rather naïve attempt to make the public accounts look healthier. Ministers and public officials were not very competent at negotiating contracts, the private sector took them for a ride, and many public projects are now being forced to pay for themselves several times over.
9. 9. The Iraq War.
1 10. The infamous Miliband-approved mug:” Controls on Immigration: I’m voting Labour.” A shameful attempt by Labour to undersell even the Tories on this issue. It was pleasing to see in yesterday’s paper that Scouts in Kent are designing and sending “Welcome to Britain” greetings cards to migrants landing on their county’s shores. One lad encourages them to “try the fish and chips.”
1111. Austerity proposals in the 2010 election which rivalled those of the Tories. Here's some exact quotes from their manifesto (page 6):
TTTough choices for £15billion efficiency savings in 2010-11;
toTough choices on cutting government overheads;
toTough choices on pay: action to control public sector pay;
TTTough choices on spending;
TTTough choices on welfare. . . .£1.5 billion on savings being delivered.
1112.Failure to support the Liberal Democrats’ Coalition proposals for;
a) Electoral reform
b) Reform of the House of Lords.