Monday, April 23, 2007

Fisking David Milband

When I wrote this article yesterday about David Miliband throwing in the towel and backing Brown. One of the articles I linked to was written by David himself, and now I am about to Fisk it, or rather bits of it, for the rubbish it actually is.
2009 gives us the opportunity to create a whole new political landscape, by showing that the Tories cannot win, however telegenic their leadership, because their core values and philosophy offer nothing to modern Britain.
Interesting statement. The problem is that neither do yours. Whether you like him or loathe him, John Major was the most popular prime minister in history whereas Tony Blair has power on the lowest share of the vote on history.

Whether those in politics, and I include myself in that, the reality is people are interested in what you are going to do and how they are affected. They have not studied politics and pay scant attention to it from year to year. Frankly they care what a party's core philosophy is. They care about the pound in their pocket, crime, their local schools and hospitals. So if David thinks the general public has undergone some "fundamental realignment" he will of course be "fundamentally realigned" himself when the next general election comes.
In 1997, people felt that voting Labour was a vote for change. In 2007, we need to recapture that sense of vision, hope and excitement. To do that, we need a political project broader and deeper than New Labour 1997-2007. It is New Labour Plus: the good things about New Labour, from a strong economy to investment in public services to help for the poorest, plus new emphasis on the power of individuals and communities to shape their lives, from climate change to social care, supported by effective government at national and European level.
Well, that sounds all fine and dandy, but the problem is that this government has done more to restrict the rights powers and choices of the individual than any other. For example the tax credit system discriminates against people who want to stay at home to look after their children, whilst on the other hand we have never been more spied upon and watched. What is more, that is set to get worse with ID cards, radically altering the nature of the relationship between the state and the individual, in the states favour.
We need to broaden our agenda because people's concerns and aspirations have moved on. Economic stability and confidence have created the space for people to demand a greener, more ethical economy, with jobs that offer more personal autonomy, fulfilment and flexibility.
Your way behind the curve on this one, David, as er.. David Cameron has already been making speeches on that sort of subject already.
The Climate Change Bill, which provides Britain with the world's first eco-constitution, has wide support in part because prosperity no longer feels so fragile.
Bit of a shame that you don't understand the physics of it though isn't it? It's also a bit of a shame that your department is one of the many in Whitehall that has increased carbon emissions. Perhaps if your government took climate change more seriously others would as well.
Investment in education and health has raised expectations of public services, with people wanting more and better.
Well, yes it has. They don't expect to be talking to teachers who say education has got worse since 1997, with the number of pupils getting any GCSE's up but the number getting key GCSE's down, after all that cash. They don't expect to see their hospitals under threat either. Where has the money gone David? It may be fine for a man living in a £1.5 million pound house, but it is different on the streets.
Migration has fuelled economic growth and cultural diversity, but also strengthened the need to create activities and institutions that bring citizens together.
Interesting, except that it has fueled economic growth for the economy not the individual.What is more, no one was asked if they wanted it. The two aims are diametrically opposed. As in if you create cultural diversity you move people apart. It takes quite a lot of work to then get them back together again, and so far this government has not paid any attention to that at all. The fact is though that immigration in its current form is hitting the wages of the poor hardest. Even Liam Byrne, a Labour minister has spotted that. So who feels the economic benefit of the quadrupling of immigration? Well, it is not the man in the street. The voter. The one you have to persuade to go and vote.
And the consequences of success can create problems, too, for example, a housing market increasingly unequal in its rewards and increasingly difficult for some people to access.
You shouldn't start a sentence with "and", no wonder education is going to hell in a hand cart, we have some one in charge of global warming who lets his departments carbon dioxide emissions rise whilst not understanding the science and English is not his strong point either. Still, we will move on.

The housing market is very hard for almost anyone without a house to access, without seriously over extending themselves. If they do, they could face a severe crisis if interest rates rise. Professional people like teachers, firemen and nurses simply can't afford to buy houses in most of the country and what is more, neither can a lot of other people.
We also need to deepen the reforms we have begun. We have only just begun the massive project of turning political ideas into a long and enduring process of social and economic reform.
It seems to me that so far you have conclusively proved that throwing money at things does not work, that you can start wars without a clue how to finish them, and that you can sow so much social division that whilst the BNP had no representation in even local government when you came to power but now have their sights on an MP's seat as well as large representation on councils. I would humbly suggest that what ever you have in mind isn't working, and you should stop.
The common thread is actually simple: a recognition that inequalities of power are as stark as inequalities of income in Britain today. If the 1945 government was motivated by the popular cry: 'I need', the 2007 government needs to be driven forward by people saying: 'I can.'
Good slogan, but the problem is that if some on thinks they "can" they get mired in all sorts of paperwork, like either employment regulations (some of which are simpler to be fair) or tax credit forms. So they generally don't.
The second task is to get an honest reckoning about what we have done as a government. When Tony Blair used his party conference speech to remind people about Britain in 1997 - people working for £1.20 an hour, no government for London, falling overseas aid, people dying waiting for heart operations - you could see people thinking: 'Oh yeah, forgot about that.' We need to get our pride back in the fact that the country is richer, fairer and more confident than 10 years ago.
Well, some people who reside in this country are sex slaves, much more so than ten years ago. Why is a "government for London" important? What is more, that statement totally ignores the shambles that this country was in in 1979, where the Unions could hold governments to ransom, and frankly the country was not working. If you want to get an honest reckoning of this government I'd suggest you start by giving the last government an honest reckoning.
We will only get the space to defend our record if we are clear about what hasn't worked as well as what has. Teacher recruitment has been genuinely transformed, so too school buildings, but school is still boring for too many pupils who become statistics of underachievement.
So let's get this right, you have thrown all that cash at education, but there are now less children getting 5 good GCSE's than in 1997, (as in 5 above grade C, including maths, science and a foreign language) and you want space to defend what exactly? You utter, dire, nay sheer incompetence? I suspect you may not get that.
For 10 years, we have been remedying the problems we inherited.
Not that we inherited any problems then? How nice of you to leave so many problems for us to clear up. We have education which is producing more and more children who are not literate in anything other than text speak, who's arithmetic is appalling, public sector debt hidden all over the place, whilst we have had a strongly growing economy. This would not have been quite so bad if education had actually improved, because we could have been moving to a knowledge based economy. The problem is there are many graduates who can't get jobs, and youth unemployment is still very high.

3 comments:

The Real Sporer said...

Education is the enemy of liberal politics, for a variety of reasons.

Higher pay for inferior teachers that produce a population that simply repeats the moral equivalence/multicultural dogma like students in madrasa.

Richard Havers said...

Milibland always reminds me of a guy I worked with back when I had a proper job. This guy was a former lecturer who came into the airline business and started to tell everyone how to do it. He would write interminable papers, constantly tinker with things, spend time telling people how they hadn't got it quite right, but he had not a practical notion of how things really worked. He also had a pencil case, which has led me to have a marked distrust of anyone who has one, or looks like they might. Step forward David Milibland

This former colleague of mine was known to many of us as 'the sponging academic.' He talked in exactly the same way is DM and while he rose high and went far he had an innate ability to piss people off and to cycle through things at an alarming rate. This is fundamentally what is wrong with Mili.

- remedying the years of Tory misrule.
- school is boring
- get honest with people
- Investment in education and health has raised expectations of public services, with people wanting more and better.
- We need to broaden our agenda because people's concerns and aspirations have moved on

All this is bland and glib and typical of everything that's wrong with Labour. He goes onto to say. "In 1997, people felt that voting Labour was a vote for change. In 2007, we need to recapture that sense of vision, hope and excitement."

Well if there was an election today there would be a vote for change in the UK. That's precisely what's going to happen in Scotland; it's all about change, not independence. Like my sponging academic he was all for reinvention rather than doing what we do better. As you say Benedict, core values have not really changed. What has changed is the fact that we have to put up with increasingly inexperienced politicians - not so much inexperienced in politics but inexperienced in life. Unless we have people who understand what life for ordinary people is all about, who have experience of really running things and are not besotted with their own self image then things will not get better. Ten years ought to be the maximum any party should stay in power, they begin to lose the plot and become isolated after that amount of time.

Benedict White said...

The Real Sporer, "liberal" means different things on this side of the Atlantic. For example Conservatives and Republicans (as well as Austrailia's Liberal Party) are all liberal economicaly, though not socialy liberal always.

Richard, interesting comment! Yes there is always someone who has never done anything who knows how others should do things!