Politics: Hectoring missionaries do the cheerleading for Blair
The Independent's parliamentary sketch writer and columnist since 2000, Simon Carr was described by Tony Blair as "the most vicious sketch writer working in Britain today". "Poison," said Charles Clarke. In the 1980s he helped launch The Independent, and was a speech writer for the prime minister of New Zealand from 1992 to 1994. His working principle is "Indignation keeps us young."
Tuesday 01 February 2005
The lady in question had been giving it her all (there was really no need). "Well," he said gloomily, "she represents the forefront of New Labour thinking." Blimey, I thought.
At the forefront of New Labour thinking you'd hope to find yourself engaged in the great debate. Should you be able to put your son down at birth for a place in one of their private prisons? Why can't the apathetic sell their vote to a community wholesaler to increase turnout statistics. And students who overachieve in their GCSEs - can't they be taxed 15 per cent of their marks to help less privileged students pass?
But alas; there don't seem to be ideas, good or bad, at the forefront of New Labour thinking. All Hazel offers is relentless and emphatic exhortation to do better. To work with local authorities. To work with the industry. To respond flexibly. Why? Because it's an absolute top priority.
That's precisely why it's essential to be out there being accessible, being in touch, reassuring the community, listening to local residents, working with the public sector, showing how a united effort can make an impact. I found myself thinking: "If I were to go home and hang myself, that would make Hazel Blears look pretty silly."
Yes, that would really spoil their performance figures measured against the national Health and Safety targets for vulnerable sketch writers (out of working hours). It might almost be worth it.
She leads the lower coterie of Home Office under-ministers - Fiona Mactaggart and Caroline Flint who all share a punitive element in their Commons rhetoric. There is so much that is unacceptable. That won't be tolerated. That will be driven out.
Antisocial behaviour particularly. "The message I give is keep at it working together driving out the antisocial behaviour of the minority" was how one of them put it.
Another revealed that the fine for buying alcohol for underage drinkers is going up to between pounds 1,000 and pounds 5,000. These penalties are really 18th century.
What's happening to us? Why has it come to this? Another answer in a former question time revealed the penalty for stealing a mobile phone was a maximum of five years in prison. Five years in a shared urinal! Look: If a mobile costs, for the sake of argument, a working man's daily wage, you have to go back to the 1700s to find equivalent sentences.
These bouncing, confident, hectoring missionaries are presiding over (and cheerleading for) a regime that is taking us back to a system of retribution that predates the abolition of slavery. New Labour suddenly seems very, very old.
If only our political leaders were tough on Blair and tough on the causes of Blair we might make (what's it called?) progress.
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...