Sunday, 24 May 2009

Has the Labour Government Actually Governed?

The more I think about it, the more I'm unable to give a positive answer to the question "Did the Labour government govern for the past 12 years?"

The reason being, I don't see anything substantial in the "governing" department over the past 12 years at all.

Sure, Gordon Brown liked us to believe he was a successful Chancellor, but more and more it looks like he rode the crest of a wave of unsustainable debt and less it looks like he actually governed the boom times. Tony Blair wanted us all to think he was a great leader, but his legacy seems to be soundbites and spin.

The huge, ballooning national debt, a legacy that our children and grandchildren will be paying off, is a sure sign of a government that can't govern. A strong government would take the tough decisions and reduce expenditure. Its what we all do in tough times. Instead our government borrows and spends in some blind hope it might be able to buy itself more seats at the next election.

You could argue that tax credits were government in action. But is that really true? There's an argument to be had that it was all a result of dogmatic policy and a desire to create new Northern Jobs in the tax credits call centres, not governing to benefit the country. Certainly the inept tax credits system shows that very little thought was put into the process of governing its inception.

Are ASBOs government? Or are they the result of soundbite politics, pandering to the chattering classes? Certainly there's an argument that they do little to deter those hardened offenders. In fact ASBOs are more like a badge of infamy and are worn with pride amongst the underclass. Again, if the policy was governed, wouldn't there be some oversight of the system to ensure it actually did what it set out to do?

Was the peace in Ireland a sign of governance? No, it was started by John Major's government, so Labour can't claim that as a sign of their governance.

Are the bank bailouts a sign of governance? Well, no, because if we had good governance, then the tripartate arrangement that regulated the fianancial sector wouldn't have allowed the problem to get so out of control. Certainly a good, prudent government wouldn't panic and lob hundreds of billions of pounds into a bottomless hole in an unplanned shambles. Good governance wouldn't have let the bank bosses like Fred Goodwin get away with such huge pensions.

The losses of personal data in government departments like the HMRC shows a lack of hands-on awareness and governance.

The Iraq War; was that governed well? Er, not really, because soldiers were sent into battle too hastily with shortages of kit which resulted in needless deaths, after the war was won, there were no plans for the peace. The whole thing was set in motion by a lie and really we went into it on the coat-tails of the Americans. So I can't see much in the way of governance there either.

Afghanistan is another conflict we followed the Americans into. No good government would throw soldiers into the meat grinder that is Afghanistan. Ask the Russians what they think about the place. No army of occupation has been successful there. Certainly there aren't enough troops on the ground to be decisive, so its really an unfortunate example of our inept government.

The Balkans: Ah, now there's a conflict we went into and won and showed great leadership and courage. Well, no. Because we went in under the auspices of the U.N. you can't call it great leadership when we were effectively dragged our heels for months before the U.N. got us involved.

Europe: Labour took us deeper into Europe and gave us closer economic, legal and political ties with our European neighbours. Surely thats a lasting legacy and a sure sign that our government made policy and stuck with it. You could say that, but then the evidence suggests capitualtion and a sign that our government just rolled over and accepted everything that Europe decreed, lessening the status of our sovereignty, legislature and executive rather than debate and fight our corner. They also denied us a promised referendum, which shows a distinct lack of conviction (i.e. they knew they wouldn't win). So Null Points to the government on Europe.

Has immigration been governed well? Er, no. If the government can't tell us how many legal and illegal immigrants are in the country and still fails to stop uncontrolled immigration, then immigration can't have been and still isn't being governed. At all.

Anti-terror legislation is an area where the government has taken the lead surely? Yes, but they cocked it up as they have with so many things. Anti-terror law should work against terrorists, not allow councils to snoop on people's bins. Especially when people in cahoots with known terrorists get off scot free, but people who put the wrong bin out get prosecuted. I think Anti-terror legislation gets marked as an epic fail.

Has government been decisive? Again, no. There are any number of projects and policies that have wasted billions over the 12 years in plans, investigations, committees and litigation only to eventually get abandoned for one reason or another. Examples being Titan Jails and the immigration detention centres. I'm sure eco-towns will be added to that list eventually.

As the whole sorry edifice crumbles around Whitehall and beyond, the lasting legacy of this government seems to be there is no legacy. Certainly not one to be proud of. Illegal war, inflated house prices, financial collapse, state dependancy, low educational standards, MP's expenses, House of Lords corruption, the rise of the Intrusive state, the politicisation of the Police, run-away spending on IT and MOD projects, increased child poverty, uncontrolled immigration, etc. etc.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm at a loss to pinpoint a policy, a place, a sign in the whole 12 years that you can say that this Labour government actually governed. Sure, they rolled with the punches, reacted to situations man-made and natural, but just where is the legacy, the foresight, the planning, the defining character that stamps the seal of this government on its 12 years of office? Just when did they ever get a grip on something and sort it, satisfactorily?

I for one, can't see it.

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