Is Labour under-selling itself?
Despite its tagline of a "future fair for all", Labour's campaign has been highly defensive, even negative. Rather than telling a positive story about its own achievements and its vision for the future, Labour, especially in the figure of Gordon Brown, has sought merely to persuade voters that Tory cuts will result in a "double-dip" recession. This kind of defensive strategy is, perhaps, to be expected from a party that has been in power for 13 years, but it begs the question of whether Labour might have a more positive story to tell. In short: is Labour under-selling itself?
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Labour has changed the narrative on public services
The current emphasis on the need to cut the deficit has obscured the extent to which Labour has changed the narrative about public spending since 1997. Whereas the Major government focused on reducing government spending as a share of national income, the Blair victories in 2001 and 2005 demonstrated a public appetite for greater investment in public services. For example, NHS spending more than doubled between 2000-01 and 2007-08
[[http://www.civitas.org.uk/nhs/download/NHSfinances.pdf]] and, as a result, since 1997 it has nearly 100,000 more nurses, over 100 new hospitals and nearly 100 new walk-in centers [[http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/2010/04/27/nhs-has-more-nurses-and-a-hundred-new-hospitals/]]. Although all parties now recognize the need for cuts to public spending, none of the opposition parties challenges the wisdom of this spending, despite the fact that they would never have done it themselves. Indeed, the extent to which Labour has changed the narrative is apparent from the fact that the Tories are pledging to protect N.H.S spending.
Labour has defended equality/fairness
The Labour governments have also changed the narrative on issues around equality and fairness. Although the Tories strongly opposed it when it was introduced, they now have no plans to remove the minimum wage which, in conjunction with the minimum-income guarantee and the associated system of tax credits, has transformed Britain's treatment of its poorest citizens. The extent of this transformation is manifest in the Liberal Democrat commitment to ensuring that those who earn less than £10000 pay no income tax at all. The Labour governments have also, through the 2010 Equality Act, required equal treatment in employment and in the provision of goods and services regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief, and age [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_Act_2010]]. This is a transformation of which British people should be proud, but which would have been inconceivable under a Tory government.
Labour has been family-friendly
Labour has more than doubled maternity pay and more than doubled the period of statutory maternity leave, whilst also aiding 6 million families through child tax credits [[http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/domestic_politics/factcheck+labour+child+benefits/848147]].
It has also introduced the right to request flexible working, introduced the child trust fund, and founded 3,500 Sure Start Children's Centres [[http://www.labour.org.uk/policies/family-prosperity-and-flexible-working]], amounting to a revolution in support for families.
Despite the Tories' attempt to appear family-friendly, their promise to provide a modest tax break to some married couples pales in comparison.
Labour has overseen the biggest constitutional transformation since 1911
Labour has successfully overseen the devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and now Northern Ireland, re-introduced London-wide government, removed all but the last vestiges of the hereditary principle from the House of Lords (with the promise of further reform to come), and created a new Supreme Court.
This amounts to the single biggest constitutional transformation since the introduction of the Parliament Act in 1911.
Once again, this success story would have been inconceivable under the Tories.
Well then why doesn't labour toot its own horn?
There have to be disastrous loopholes in the fine adulation bestowed upon labours' great successes.
Bottom-line: Labour has widely disappointed the British people in it's short run. And Clegg is prettier than Gordon Brown
Labour has overseen the worst recession since the 1930s
Gordon Brown must regret promising to end boom and bust
Despite its successes in other areas, Labour has overseen the worst recession since the 1930s, leaving us with a budget deficit almost as large as that of Greece.
The general election campaign has rightly focused on this issue.
The financial crash of 2008 caused a global crisis to which no country was immune and Labour can legitimately point out that both unemployment and repossession rates are much lower not only than feared, but also than in the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, under the previous Tory administration.
certainly the statement "leaving us with a budget deficit almost as large as that of Greece." is a hyperbole; no other party in Labour's situation during the international financial crisis could have done much better. At least; there is no credible proof that they could have.
Moreover, the fact that Britain experienced a recession after more than 10 years of uninterrupted growth doesn't change the fact that Labour has a very positive story to tell about its record over the last 13 years.
The question is why it refuses to tell that story.
Labour took Britain into the Iraq war
Tony Blair took Britain into a highly unpopular and possibly illegal war on the basis of scanty evidence. In so doing he brought about the deaths of 140 British servicemen [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3847051.stm].
Despite the Iraq war, Labour has a positive story to tell about its foreign policy record. Britain played a key role in the intervention in Kosovo which helped to reverse ethnic cleansing and to demonstrate to the international community that it did not have to stand aside in the same disastrous way that it had during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Moreover, Labour created, for the first time, a Department for International Development and has trebled Britain's aid [http://www.labour.org.uk/policies/international-development], something of which we should all be proud.
Labour has excessively curbed civil liberties
"Almost 60 new powers contained in more than 25 Acts of Parliament have whittled away at freedoms and broken pledges set out in the Human Rights Act and Magna Carta, according to a new audit of laws introduced since Labour came to power in 1997"[[http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/revealed-the-full-extent-of-labours-curbs-on-civil-liberties-1627054.html]]
Labour wants to issue biometric identity cards, at massive expense to the taxpayer
Labour want to create a "a massive central database known as the interception modernisation programme to store the details of phone calls, text messages, emails and internet use."[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/13/nick-clegg-liberal-democrats-manifesto]]
Labour has already increased habeas corpus. And initially wanted the law to be 60 days without trial. It took the house of lords to ensure this ancient right was not removed.
Increased Police stop-and-search powers. Curbed the right to peacefully protest. Modified the Public Order Act
What do you think?