The Labour Conference 2011 has turned into a horrible misery-fest. What a daft idea to
make the theme of the conference: “We’re really sorry, we won’t do it again”. At least it’s not the slogan, although it would have been more honest than
“Fulfilling the Promise of Britain”. I agree with Steve Richards in the Independent that the pessimism is
self-fulfilling. This does not feel like a platform for re-election
I spent most of the New Labour era criticising Tony Blair and his government. I thought he was too cosy with the ultra-rich, cynical about criminal justice policy, disingenuous about the use of the
private sector in providing public services and over-cautious about redistribution.
But I recognise the achievements of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and so do the people around David Cameron, which is why Philip Gould’s Unfinished Revolution is their bible. The national
minimum wage, the smoking ban, reform of the House of Lords, devolution in Scotland and Wales, civil partnerships – these things just would not have happened under Conservative
administrations. It is also true that the Coalition’s reforms in health, education and welfare to work are based on solid Blairite foundations.
Labour lost the last election. That much is undeniable. But the Tories didn’t win it either. A surprising number of people voted Labour even with Gordon Brown as leader and I would wager that
most of the people who voted Lib Dem did not want a Tory government. Many will never vote that way again.
What possessed Ed Miliband to believe that the British people wanted a series of apologies? The only thing the Labour Party should be apologising for is not replacing Gordon Brown as leader when it
had the chance. Labour politicians should face the truth: despite all the mistakes of the New Labour years it is quite possible that they would still be in government, had they steeled themselves
for a coup when they had the chance. If they truly believe their own rhetoric about the damage the Coalition is doing then they have only themselves to blame.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.