Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Taylor-Gooby

It is now almost 10 years since Labour, led by Tony Blair, came to power. I wonder how many of you remember that day. I was a lecturer then and when I came in, late, after the previous night's celebrations, I remember the whole class cheered.

The next day I had to travel to London, and the man in front of me in the buffet car was wondering out loud whether he should have a chocolate cake or not. I said: "After that result you can have what you like" and everyone laughed.

Things look a bit different now, but I should like to stand back for a few minutes and reflect on how historians will judge this 10 years.

If you walked into a pub and talked about Thatcherism, most people would know roughly what you meant. If you talked about Blairism people would be less sure, although some might say it was simply Thatcher with a human face.

I do not think this is true. For all its failings, the present Government has put Britain on a different road. It has had successes and made mistakes, but we are going in the right direction, and it is not Thatcherism. What is important is that future Labour governments learn from the mistakes.

It is essentially a social democratic government and the basic idea behind social democracy is that an efficient economy delivers the goods to provide high quality social services, which will reduce the inequality generated by economic growth.

This Government has certainly encouraged the economy to flourish, by reducing controls and regulation and this has given us steady economic growth. But most of the wealth has been generated in the South-East, and this has meant the reduction of our manufacturing base and widening North/South inequalities. These are issues we must address.

Large amounts have been spent on education, health, transport infrastructure, and dare I say it, local government. The Government has been concerned, rightly, that money should be spent effectively, and I am sure the public would agree with this. Management of the public sector is now much tighter than it used to be. Where things have gone wrong is the continual reorganisations, particularly in the NHS, which have actually reduced efficiency by demoralising staff, and the widespread assumption that the private sector is automatically more efficient. …

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