Letter: Tony Blair's ideology has little to do with the Labour Party

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From Mr Brendan O'Neill

Sir: Reading Donald Macintyre's interview with Tony Blair, I could not help wondering who will be expected to foot the bill for new Labour's new Britain. Mr Blair says he wants to "equip people and business for massive global and technological change" without resorting to the old left's policy of "limitless expansion of public spending and rights without responsibilities".

In other words, the new Britain we can look forward to is one where welfare spending will be cut under the auspices of "individual responsibility". Blair provides an accountant's view of the welfare state: it is too expensive to increase pension payments, so individuals should take out private plans; it is not feasible to have free childcare, so parents will have to pay; the increase in the number of young people going to university makes the payment of student grants too expensive, so students will have to pay for more of their own education. Mr Blair tries to justify his plans to cut welfare by making woolly references to "the community" and "individual responsibility", but under all the rhetoric lurks the Conservative policy of leaving the needy and the poor to fend for themselves.

I have just finished my first term in my first year at university and already I know what it is like to live on the verge of poverty. Under a new Labour government, I can only imagine that things will get a lot worse for me and many people throughout Britain. It was the Tories who ruined this country, but under Prime Minister Blair ordinary people will be made to pay the price.

Yours faithfully,

Brendan O'Neill



12 December