Why I switched to new Labour

Seventeen years of Conservative rule have produced two nations
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The Government has forgotten that civilised societies require market forces to operate within a social context, defined and regulated to the ultimate benefit of all their citizens. As a consequence, 17 years of Conservative rule has created two nations.

The rich have become much richer and the poor relatively poorer - 40 per cent of British people exist on income levels below the average wage - while directors of public utility companies shamelessly utilise what were public assets for private gain. Despite promises to the contrary, there have been 22 increases in taxation, public debt has doubled and public facilities in education, hospitals and housing are falling to new levels of insufficiency. The Government's claim to be the party of efficient economic management is exposed for the charade that it is.

Government inefficiencies, ministerial mistakes and political scandals - such as the ERM debacle, the Pergau Dam, defence sales to Iran and Iraq, mad cow disease, Gulf war syndrome and cash-for-questions - combine to show a lack of concern for morality, justice and humanity in public life. It seems incapable of recognising that the systems of government evolved to manage a hierarchical 19th-century imperial power are wholly inappropriate for the management of a modern, participative industrial democracy.

By weakening local government, refusing to accept limited devolution in Scotland and Wales, and failing to recognise the diminished power of the nation state within an increasingly interdependent world economy, the Government has forfeited any claim to be capable of leading the UK into the 21st century.

Unrestrained by a largely irrelevant and unrepresentative Parliament, individual ministers have ceased to recognise or serve the public interest. Yet they remain determined to hang on to office at any price. Their cynical contempt for the public has contributed in no small measure to the general culture of selfishness and disrespect which exists in Britain today. It really is time for a change.

Although they may win some seats in the South-west, the Liberal Democrats cannot defeat the Government in a general election. In any event, the public good requires opinion formers across the political spectrum to vote for change. Only new Labour has the combination of moral purpose and potential electoral support nationally to form a government committed to change.

Under Tony Blair's leadership the Labour Party has the vision to implement the reforms necessary to secure a prosperous future for all our people. My decision to join the Labour Party is prompted by Tony Blair's determination to pursue the constitutional reform, efficient economic management and fairer social provision that alone can restore One Nation.

Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler