Tony Blair said this, Tony Blair said that when he came into office. He noted Britain was unequal then and proposed “education, education, education”. What he and New Labour did to tackle it was rather different. Their espousal of Thatcherite policies from the start ensured that not only did inequality remain but it has become entrenched.
New Labourites have always been bedazzled by wealth and fame. Bernie Eccleston, Rupert Murdoch et al were all courted by Blair who now rubs shoulders with the elite and coins a million when he opens his mouth. Goodness knows why since what he has to say is usually vacuous. Tragically Gordon Brown continues to bring big names into government, self advertisers like Alan Sugar who have a lot of money but not much judgment. As for the all powerful, self regarding Mandelson, his love of the high life, Russian billionaires and all is well documented. So where is the will to do something about equality? Trevor Phillips is kept as the head of the Equalities Commission to ensure nothing will change. As long as the window dressing is there – we need a cohesive community they believe. Well people aren’t fooled that easily and know the whole thing is a sham.
Already the big ideas in education, health and other essential services are falling by the wayside. In this bit of Birmingham the Heart of Birmingham teaching Primary Care Trust planned 24 polyclinics in response to the Darzy report on the unequal supply of doctors particularly affecting deprived areas. Already they have abandoned this and after building hopes high the cut backs have started. Who suffers? Once again the most vulnerable are least cushioned. If they are not helped by New Labour which owed its existence to supporting such people, who will step in. Not the Tories, nor the Liberal Democrats.
In the 1970’s miners’ leader Arthur Scargill led a struggle against the move to close down industry with the result that Britain would become dependent on energy supply from outside. Other union leaders failed to give support as the full power of the state was unleashed on a heroic few who fought back. There was significant support from working people globally but without sufficient backing Thatcher was subsequently able to extract a very high price closing pits whether viable or not in order to defeat “the enemy within”. That supposed enemy were the workers of Britain. New Labour agreed with Thatcher and ensured that unions remained powerless. So the children of elite are now getting the top jobs, and we feign surprise. In the 1960’s people like Halsey and Plowden documented how the class system operated and publications like “Learning to Labour” showed how schools were among agents not of change and liberation but actually of maintaining the status quo.