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Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
5 months ago

I haven’t fully worked this out yet, but it seems to me that the political/media complex got markedly worse under New Labour. Before Blair, governments had tried to get favourable media coverage in a fairly amateurish way, but policymaking came first. The New Labour obsession with the Message, focus groups, and controlling the news cycle, led to a reversal of this: media impact and focus group reaction drove policy. The media was happy to join in this game, and gave up any real attempt to challenge policy, choosing instead to chase scoops from insider gossip, or from misspeaking by ministers “off message” or caught out by “gotcha” questions. So we have the current symbiotic dance, where a major political broadcaster can simperingly ask the candidates for PM, “what is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?”

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

The Conservatives have been in power now for almost as long as the Blair/Brown years and during that time they have done next to nothing to reverse this, which is why they are now a spent force. Their only saviour is the fact that Labour are in a worse state, even after (or because of) twelve years in opposition.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rob Britton
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

The problem is that the necessary reforms to tackle the sclerotic nature of many of our institutions runs up against the vast army of entrenched interests. The path through to greater efficiency is not one paved with popularity and some reasonable level of popularity is needed to win the necessary electoral mandate.
Hence the timidity of the Conservatives to actually do anything to achieve any of their promises. The Johnson government has been a deep disappointment to any conservative but the alternative on offer is even worse.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

You’re banging on about Tony Blair? In 2022?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yes – because the comments made are entirely accurate and still corrupting government behaviour.

Richard Steele
Richard Steele
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

No, you’re right. Its all Blair’s fault and there’s precious little the last four prime ministers could have done to improve things.

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Steele
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yes, because by the time he left office, his policies had completed the domination of almost all institutions by a certain mindset, which considers itself virtuous in all it does (and thinks), while treating the opposition as liars, devoid of compassion, and always motivated by self-interest.
This is serious, because once the media (BBC, ITV, Sky, for a start) all support this model, along with civil servants, universities, charities, thinktanks, lawyers, doctors etc. (not necessarily individuals, of course), it becomes difficult to govern except with their approval. Listen dispassionately to interviews on, say BBC Today. And do you notice that on the one hand, a motive is described as ‘anger’ (compassionate, of course), whereas on the other, the motive is put forward by the ‘impartial’ newsman to be scheming, cynical, ‘briefing against’ etc..
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

The Blair years coincided with the advent of 24 hour news. Knowing that there would be more news coverage of his government, Blair decided to fill that coverage with stories putting a positive spin on his government. The aim of politics became news management and not policy.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

The main problem is that we have a number of core systems which are inelastic and cannot respond quickly enough to increased demand – house building and planning, nationalised healthcare and education, subsidised care homes, policing, trains and roads – but we have an immigration system which constantly ramps up demand.

So we have houses no one can afford and hospitals with no beds available, streets with no police, trains with no free seats etc. We keep taxing and spending but it is never enough. The tax burden creeps ever higher, the services crumble.

We can either increase supply by massively relaxing planning, sacrificing the green belt, and privatising and deregulating health care and education. Or we can reduce demand by limiting immigration (my idea is that the net immigration should be half the number of new build homes completed in the previous year). Demand reduction might lead to persistently higher prices for some commercial services but it will deflate pressure on house prices and public sector waiting lists etc.

Given that there is no hope in hell of privatising the NHS or paving over the green belt (any gov that tried would be ejected by the voters), immigration control is the only possible response.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

“Immigration control is the only possible response”.
Too late I’m afraid, they already have critical mass, and all that is needed now is something or someone to “light the blue touch paper”.
Perhaps the French will lead they way as they did in 1789.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

I hope not Charles. Having maximum annual limits on immigration is quite common – the USA and Australia both do it. No reason why we shouldn’t.

Over time, our ability to supply enough houses and GPs will more closely match demand from our own citizens.

It would be a wildly popular policy that has a chance of actually working.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Immigration in USA is completely disconnected from the (already very lax) laws meant to control it, as illegal immigration is now at record levels with the southern border out of control. Immigration is the critical issue facing the West and elites unwilling to face it.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

Yes that is the other part of it Michael. We need to stamp out illegal immigration. Anyone entering the country illegally needs to be detained and then transferred to a third country for processing and, if they still want it, resettlement there.

Any asylum seekers coming through official routes should count toward the total annual allowance of immigrants.Any illegal immigrants whose deportation is prevented by dubious human rights lawyers should also count towards that year’s total.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Sure – but that would require the maturity of mind to suggest “actual numbers” for acceptable population growth – something which the Blob refuses to do.

Last edited 5 months ago by Ian Barton
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

While arguing that it’s a benefit to us, using selective statistics.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

It’s interesting that the two countries you mention both have vast areas, utterly different to our own country. Even then, logic says that the state cannot accept a situation in which the numbers and identities of immigrants are uncontrolled, and what is more, in the modern state, resources are finite, whatever the area available.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

The NHS budget divided by the population would give each family of 4 £13,000 per year for private health insurance.
I am used to private Health Insurance in many different countries. Waiting times are non existent and yearly health checkups are all part of the plan.
A good system. Competition again providing better options.
We need to free the market for healthcare and education ( in the case of education we also need to remove much of the Soviet style regulations) and we need to do this now.

Last edited 5 months ago by James Rowlands
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Which country and system are you talking about? Some details would help. The US notoriously spends a larger fraction of GPD on health than almost any other country, while still having disastrous problems for lots of people. But it might well work better elsewhere, of course.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Switzerland.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

You’re preaching to the converted, James.

I have long argued this and continue to think it would be the best solution: a personal grant for health, another for a school, allow individuals to top up with their own money and let the market provide. You could have any number of immigrants then – as long as they paid the full cost of these services for the first few years. If you combined it with a pretty radical loosening of planning controls for new housing, the economy would be blisteringly hot.

Problem is, it has zero chance of being proposed by the Tories and if they did, there is zero chance of them being elected.

Whereas controlling excess demand and allowing our sluggish public services to catch up is doable tomorrow.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

We missed a chance when we were in the EU and enthusiasm for European solutions was reasonably high among “progressive” thinkers to abolish the NHS model and adopt the French, German, Spanish or any other efficient insurance based health system and indeed social welfare systems. Had we done so the effects of immigration would have been ameliorated.

Now that we are out of the EU any attempt to move to a continental insurance based system will be lambasted by the left as a move to the hated US system and by the right as abandoning our historic solution for a hated EU solution and would in any case be resisted by the entrenched bureaucracy of the NHS and their media boosters.

Sensible immigration limits linked to clear capacity criteria, as you have suggested, now seems the only politically viable solution with illegal immigration counting towards the immigration limit coupled with vigorous Australian type methods of stemming the illegal element.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

True, we missed the boat there. Though thinking about it, I can’t imagine a time when Labour wouldn’t have objected. Maybe Blair in his pomp could have forced it through.

Dunstan Vavasour
Dunstan Vavasour
5 months ago

Government is an infinite game, politics is a daily game. The disjoint between politics and government has never been bigger. Energy prices won’t come down. Which will put food prices up a lot further. Labour will get ever shorter and more expensive as the boomers get too old to work. Chronic stagflation will be the price for five decades of unbridled consumerism.
This is a time for serious government by true statesmen, and we are governed by sound bite pigmies.

R Wright
R Wright
5 months ago

Our state, despite the highest tax take in the history of this nation, has become so sclerotic and weak that it’s functionally not much better than a 1950s colonial administration in Africa. I don’t know how much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the incompetent, visionless Tories that have reigned for 12 years, or the Whitehall blob which despite the apparent savagery of austerity-driven budget cuts for half a decade seems to be more effective at protecting itself than ever.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago

Good article. Truss, in particular, is a policy-free zone. She’ll say whatever needs to be said to curry favour with those she most admires, who tend to be people richer and posher than she is.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

This is so, so true. Alas.
One would have to day that Labour is not exactly brilliant either, but at least Starmers lot seem to understand that they are there to solve problems and not just to get headlines.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
5 months ago

Yes, and we are being left in free fall for another month.
Excellent article graphically exposing the situation.
Parliament should be recalled, emergency measures should be considered, bring MP’s back from the beaches! The extent of denial and buck passing is shameful. And will go down in history as such

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
5 months ago

Since Blair made so much money in retirement, the aim of many politicians is to hold office, fill up their contacts book and then to reap their rewards after leaving office. What they do in office no longer matters.
The range of accepted topics for political discussion has been so reduced and for so long that the politicians themselves are now incapable of looking beyond these narrow topics.
So many of our politicians have had no experience of working outside politics. It is little wonder that they have no interest in changing what they don’t know.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago

Is it any wonder the strong men in Russia and China decided this was a good time to test the faltering West? The author could be describing the US, Germany, France, Italy (as usual),and every other country except the hard-nosed ones like Poland and Hungary.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
5 months ago

Why do you say that the party is “seduced instead by the 24-hour news cycle”? It is the whole country, or so it seems to me. I have no time for television, which lacks the will or ability to discuss things in depth, but my wife watches, and I hear the topic of the day discussed endlessly and with a lot of ‘passion’ or hate, and yet which always scratches the surface, or appeals to sentiment. It’s totally predictable and without conclusion.
I was amused that a candidate for MP was chosen because “It was the lovely way you spoke about your wife at the selection”, although it doesn’t say whether the person thought this good enough, or that it would play well with voters, not that it matters, but it does sum up the lack of intellectual ambition.
Personally, I’m sick of every policy being judged on, or justified by, its effect upon ‘ the vulnerable’, or, slightly better, ‘the hard-working’, or increasingly, its achievement of ‘diversity’. Of course these things should matter, but not to the exclusion of effectiveness, efficiency, value for money, without which we can’t afford them anyway. I’m sure that even people who earn well deem their own family’s well-being to be important, and not just that of less well-off strangers.

Last edited 5 months ago by Colin Elliott
Peter Scott
Peter Scott
5 months ago

Spot on!
The change will come when Joe Public is in such dire straits (this autumn and winter) that he starts taking politics seriously and insists on much better human beings – intelligent, competent, courageous, sensible; wholly unlike the present crews which fill the House of Commons benches – becoming his representatives in Parliament.
Economic torture and grim shortages of basics, will concentrate his mind.
Voting for the umpteenth time for the same old, same old, utterly played out parties – combinations which have long since become mere job-creation vehicles for 4th-rate jobsworths – will no longer appear the least bit viable.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
5 months ago

Sunak and Truss: less heirs of Thatcher, more imitators of Callaghan.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

Blame Labour? It’s 2022, mate