Hit or Miss Voters Deliver their Verdicts

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Indy Politics

The Independent asks members of the public, journalists, celebrities and academics their views on Tony Blair's government.

Sarah Robinson, 29. Single mother from Liverpool


I think Labour deserve a lot of credit for introducing the working families' tax credit. It has been great for me in that it has given me the chance to work part time and spend a lot more time with my daughter.

But I've become more disillusioned with politics since Labour have been in power. I don't think people want to be apathetic, but this Government seems so disconnected from the real world that no one believes things can be different.

I think Labour and politicians generally should think long and hard about how to properly change things for the better. It's about listening to the public, and they don't do that.

Katherine Thompson, 25. Financial journalist from London


Admittedly Labour have handled the economy very well. It can be easy to forget the stability we enjoy now. When I left university a few years ago I didn't have to go through the panic my elder brother and sisters did to find a job.

But I don't think Labour has achieved a great deal in the key areas. My concerns are health, education and crime.

It doesn't make sense that young people should be charged for their education. There's a real problem with hard drugs in this country that isn't being addressed. I see the effects every day near my home in central London

And the health service needs more resources.

Clive and Mary Mowforth, 46 and 47. Research chemist/does not work from Dursley, Gloucestershire


We have a tendency to lean towards Labour. We voted for them in 1997, hoping that after 18 years of the Tories we'd get something different. But ultimately we're disappointed.

We are particularly concerned about transport. We've never owned a car because we've been able to commute to work by train, but the services are so bad now we may forced into buying one. Something else that will lose Labour support will be its university funding policies. Our daughter is a student and with tuition fees going up it's going to mean that money, and not ability, will be the marker to get in.

Will Dickinson, 42. Arable farmer from Harpenden, Hertfordshire


Tony Blair's time in power has coincided with the worst depression in my industry since the 1930s. My commodity prices have halved. A lot of what we have suffered is down to currency - that's one of the worst drivers that we have had to suffer.

When I have had dealings with the Government, I have found them to be unfriendly. A lot of things they have done for us haven't been sympathetic. Whether that is because they simply don't understand us or because of a hidden agenda, I don't know. At the end of the day, they are an urban government. The red is in the towns and the blue is in the countryside.

Will Self. Novelist

I voted for the Green Party. Apart from the achievement of the minimum wage, I cannot think of anything else that I agree with over the years. I loathe Blair and think the party has been disastrous in many ways, particularly around the issue of criminal justice and in the failure of any internal party democracy.

Stephen Bayley. Critic

Everything I predicted about the managerial incompetence and philosophical vacuity of the Labour government in 1998 has come to pass and I am mystified that anyone could have been taken in by Blair. His party is a fundamentally dishonest and incompetent party which I find morally repellent.

Joan Bakewell. Television presenter

I was jubilant in 1997 when Blair came to power and I am heartened by some of the things, such as tax credits and the minimum wage, but not with others, like foundation hospitals and student tuition fees. When I was a schoolgirl in 1945 the Attlee government was making great changes to society in a fundamental way. Blair has not done that.

Ahmed Versi. Editor of 'The Muslim News'

Many Muslims are faced with a dilemma in this country as the Labour Party has done a lot for us on a domestic level - they have made huge strides forward compared to the last government - but internationally, they have failed us time and again abroad, including the Palestine issue and Iraq.

Michael Rosen. Poet

An utter and complete disaster on foreign policy. On the home front, we have just seen a continuation of Tory policies, by and large, so nothing to shout about there at all. I voted Labour in 1997, but last time I voted Socialist Alliance. Labour needs to return to the basic principles that it had in 1945.

Louise Christian. Human rights lawyer

I voted Labour in 1997 but number of policies and events have changed my view, particularly the issue of civil liberties, David Blunkett's attack on the judicial system and the Government's approach to asylum-seekers. The war on Iraq displayed a contempt for the rule of law. I would not vote for them next time round.

Jilly Cooper. Novelist

I voted Tory in 1997 but I knew a lot of people who shifted to New Labour and they all thought Tony Blair was going to do great things. Many have been disappointed but we must remember that mid-term governments usually have a bad time but tend to perk-up in popularity. I think the spat with the BBC is appalling.

John Hassall. Bass player of the Libertines

I used to think that Labour was the lesser of two evils. Now it seems that there is nothing like a true Labour government. Tony Blair promised so much in his pre-election period but has delivered so little. Still I would have voted Labour if Blair hadn't been so insistent on war in Iraq."

Roger McGough. Poet

I voted Labour in 1997 and would still vote the same way. We all seem to have forgotten how terrible those Conservative years were. We are not a very patient people and we want quick fixes, but politics is just not like that, so I am holding onand hoping that socialism will be better than the alternatives.

Ruth Lea. Head of policy at the Institute of Directors

It is true that businesses were prepared to give Labour the benefit of the doubt in 1997, but the truth is that businesses now have major reservations. One reason is the increased complexity of the tax system and increased taxation, a large part of the latter falling on the business sector.

Hugh Osmond. Entrepreneur

I think Britain is now hugely worse off. Ultimately we will suffer an equivalent of the 70s brain drain. Business people, entrepreneurs don't have to be located in the UK, and it's gone from being a relatively good decision to be here compared with most other places to being a pretty poor decision to be here.

John Peel. BBC disc jockey

I was an avid supporter of Labour and I showed my support at the Royal Festival Hall for the first victory in 1997 and I was considerably excited by it all. Since then, I feel sorely disillusioned to the point of not knowing who I would vote for. The war was, in a sense, a final nail in the coffin.

Dr Raj Persaud. Radio presenter and psychiatrist

The NHS was very important to me and the Labour Party seemed to me the only party committed to extending and improving the service. However, the war has been a very problematic issue. The bigger issue is our relationship to the US which is becoming increasingly arrogant.

Simon Heffer. Journalist

The Labour Party is both dishonest and incompetent. I did not vote for them in 1997. They have set about destroying valuable institutions such as the House of Lords and the Lord Chancellorship. They have greatly expanded public funding without making any improvements to the NHS, schools or transport.

J G Ballard. Novelist

Labour is in terminal confusion and our Messianic Prime Minister has jumped the rails. Let us see if he can come up again. Labour has the huge advantage that it has no opposition - the BBC is the latest. Perhaps after that it will be the trade unions, but they have no permanent opposition.

Richard Dawkins. Biologist

Tony Blair must rue the day he threw in his lot with the unelected George Bush and spun falsehoods to dragoon Parliament into war. The Liberal Democrats deserve the votes of true Labour supporters, and they can count on mine.

By Paul Peachey, Arifa Akbar and Oliver Duff