Letter: Union history belies Blair fairy tale

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The Independent Online
Letter: Union history belies Blair fairy tale Sir: Our daughter has just celebrated her 18th birthday, and of course she cannot remember the view from the window of the hospital in which she was born - but we can! The cold March dawn revealed a man-made landscape of piles of rotting rubbish, and a team of mechanical diggers was busy digging pits into which the hospital refuse was being buried.

By cruel contrast, the human dead lay unburied as Britain was paralysed by the "winter of discontent", which was in truth a euphemism for anarchy. The full force of the unions was unleashed on Callaghan's government, forced to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund for finance.

It was a humiliating spectacle, and the country in its misery ached for a change - in 1979 our prayers were answered and change came. Our daughter is a true child of Thatcher who like thousands more has only known Conservative government, and we believe articulates for her whole generation when she asks, "How bad can Labour be?" Soon we suspect they will find out.

It is more than likely that students will turn out en masse to support Tony Blair, but before they cast that all-important vote perhaps they should spare a moment to consider the positive and undeniable achievements of the past 18 years.

When our daughter's generation buy a house, they will benefit from the lowest mortgage rate for the past 30 years, and from their earnings will be deducted the lowest basic tax rate for over half a century. We are No 1 in Europe for foreign investment, one in three of the population now go on to higher education, and as a nation we have lost fewer working days through strikes since records began. State monopolies have crumbled and the concept of choice is now the norm.

Of course there have been mistakes, naked arrogance, crass misjudgements, disappointments and, worst of all, broken promises. We have all been hurt to a greater or lesser extent, but taken as a whole our daughter's childhood and adolescence has been played out against a background of stable and competent government.

The election is very near, the die is cast and once again we are told the country wants change. All we urge our daughter to do is think how costly and extravagant a gesture change for the sake of it can be.

The unions are hovering in the wings but will soon claim centre stage. Today, with much of their power curbed, they seem docile and compliant pussy cats - but striped leopards don't exist, and Labour's fairy tale will have no happy ending.

GRAHAM AND ELEANOR WRIGHT

Newtown, Powys

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