Letter:Opposition to Bill Clinton's welfare reform

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Sir: Nicholas Timmins misses the central point that Bill Clinton was unable to deliver his welfare reforms largely because, between 1992 and 1994, a Democrat Congress prevented him from doing so ("Welfare: Clinton's lesson for Blair, 2 August).

Elected as a New Democrat, Clinton faced a Congress dominated by old- style liberals unmoved by the groundswell of popular support for the New Democrat agenda. Determined to oppose the President's welfare proposals, Congress opened up divisions between themselves and the White House. And those divisions were exploited by Republicans in the 1994 Congress elections.

Herein lies the real lesson for Labour. Should a few Labour MPs decide to take it upon themselves to try to frustrate Labour's plans for welfare reform, they will allow a right-wing populist to offer simple harsh solutions to those problems Tony Blair will have been prevented from tackling.

That would be a tragedy for the millions of people in Britain who need yet more right-wing dogma like they need a hole in the head.


Groombridge, Kent