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People strangely unmoved by Cameron, but Labour need to get going now

Posted on 7 October 2010 | 8:10am

To the lovely setting of Knowsley Park near Liverpool last night, and a speech to pensions experts. No, wait, wait, the specific brief was ‘anything but pensions’ so don’t go away.

Of course pensions is a fascinating subject but tough for an after dinner speech, especially when your main experience of the issue is having your own one stolen by Robert Maxwell.

So I stuck to a diet of hopefully amusing anecdotes, some about Cap’n Bob indeed, followed by an assessment of where we are politically post the Conference leaders’ speeches.

For Nick Clegg, jury out. For Ed Miliband, jury out. For David Cameron, jury out. I took a bit longer to say it but I suppose that was the conclusion.

If Clegg makes the coalition work and the economy improves, he is well placed. If the cuts tear his party apart, and that tears the coalition apart, he is toast, and his party will be the soggy bits. If the coalition falls apart for Cameron at the wrong time, he is in trouble. If it falls apart at the right time, and the economy is improving, he could be there for a while.

What I found interesting is how little warmth there was towards either of them. There were a few Labour supporters at the dinner, because some advertised themselves to me as such when they bought up books to sign. But they were, I suspect in the minority. Yet there was little fondness for Cameron, a fair bit of suspicion, and not much respect.

I said I felt he had failed to win a majority because people lacked a sense of who he is and what he wants to do. He has still not really answered that. It was an odd speech. Terrible jokes don’t help. But most of it was a rehash of stuff he said during the election, and until the Big Society has a clear message and policy agenda where one is required, it will continue to be the case that people remain unsure about his politics, character and judgement.

And whenever people feel the cuts stray from necessary to ideological – he needs to watch Osborne like a hawk, and I know a thing or two about PMs and chancellors – the little good will there seems to be will evaporate quickly.

Not for the first time the media, still largely supine and tummy-tickling, are behind the public curve on this.

Of course if the Tories do see the economy improve, and can win the argument that their cuts were in large part responsible then whatever pain and aggro en route, they will be well placed.

But I was also struck last night by how receptive people seemed to be to the message that the attacks on Labour as being responsible for the so-called mess they call a great country called Britain are over the top. They sense perhaps that Cameron and Osborne remain more focussed on a political rather than an economic strategy.

Phil Stephens in today’s FT makes a similar point. He felt the PM was at his strongest when making a call to arms to help deal with the deficit in the national interest, at his weakest in the constant attacks on Labour and GB … ‘but the story of 13 dismal years under Labour jars with the experience of most voters,’ he said, rightly.

Which brings me to Labour’s new leader. I felt during the last general election, until the very end, that insufficient attention was paid to promoting Labour’s record. And I felt that during the leadership election too much was said that allowed the Tories to take it and use it to help paint their deliberately negativising picture of the last government, essential to their core strategy.

If Cameron wins the argument that the economic difficulties were all Labour’s fault, and that the country did not improve hugely since ’97, he will be helped enormously to do some pretty dreadful things.

So new generation or not, the past being a different country or not, the argument over how we got to where we are, and what it means for the future, has to be engaged in better than has happened so far. A one-sided fight has to become two-sided fight quickly.

I backed David Miliband, and of course would not have done so had I not thought he was the man the Party should have elected. But it didn’t and as a Labour loyalist I will support Ed. I hope the point about the argument over the past is taken in the spirit in which it is intended – something we have to win to stop the Tories doing even more damage, and succeeding in shifting the blame unfairly to GB and Co when they do so.

  • Billy Blofeld

    Labour’s record….. Will someone list what it is? Everybody shys away from telling us what the record is.

    Will you tell us Alastair?

    • Janete

      Glad to oblige Billy. As a Labour Party member since 1979, and having experienced the devastating impact of the Thatcher years, I am very proud of Labour’s achievements in government. During that time we began to rebuild our society folowing years of under-investment and neglect. Of course mistakes were made and there was still more to do but we left the country far better than we found it in 1997.

      Some of Labour’s achiements:
      National Minimum Wage
      The shortest waiting times since NHS records began.
      Three million more operations carried out each year than in 1997.
      Over 44,000 more doctors.
      Over 89,000 more nurses
      Free prescriptions for people being treated for cancer
      An NHS guarantee to see a cancer specialist within two weeks Maximum wait of 18 weeks from GP referral to the start of hospital treatment – and most waits are much shorter than this.
      Over 100 new hospital building schemes completed.
      Pensioners Winter Fuel Payments.
      900,000 pensioners lifted out of poverty.
      500,000 children lifted out of relative poverty up to 2007 budget
      Free TV licences for over-75s.
      2.2 million people helped into work through the New Deal
      Over 4.8 million Child Trust Funds started.
      3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres opened
      Over 42,000 more teachers and 212,000 more support staff
      Around 3,700 rebuilt and significantly refurbished schools
      Free nursery places for 3 and 4 year olds.
      1.3 million registered childcare places for children under eight years old.
      More young people attending university than ever before.
      Doubled the number of apprenticeships starts
      In 1997 more than half of all schools saw less that 30 per cent of their pupils fail to get 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths. Now only 247 schools – less than one in twelve – fail this benchmark.
      Between 1997-98 and 2009-10, total funding per pupil has more than doubled from £3,030 in 1997-98 to £6,350 in 2009-10 in real terms, an increase of 110 per cent.
      The Northern Ireland peace process.
      The car scrappage scheme
      No smoking in most enclosed public places in the UK
      The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are now 21 per cent below 1990 levels, beating our Kyoto target.
      Over £20 billion invested in bringing social housing to decent standards.
      Rough sleeping has dropped by two thirds and homelessness at its lowest level since the early 1980s.
      Free off-peak travel on buses anywhere in England for over-60s and disabled people.
      Since 1997 overall crime is down 36 per cent; domestic burglary is down 54 per cent; vehicle related crime is down 57 per cent; and violent crime is down 41 per cent.
      Points-based system for immigration
      17,000 more police officers since 1997 and 16,000 Police Community Support Officers.
      Equalisation of the age of consent and repealed Section 28.
      Introduction of civil partnerships
      Tripled Britain’s overseas aid budget. UK aid helps lift an estimated 3 million people out of poverty every year.
      Cancelled up to 100 per cent of debt for the world’s poorest countries.
      More offshore wind capacity than any country in the world
      Embarked on the biggest program of council house building for twenty years.
      Launched the Swimming Challenge Fund to support free swimming for over 60s and under 16s.
      Banned fox hunting.
      Free admission to our national museums and galleries.
      Devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, elected Mayor and Assembly for London
      New right of pedestrian access to the English coast
      Signed the Social Chapter introducing vatious measures including: four weeks’ paid holiday; a right to parental leave; extended maternity leave; a new right to request flexible working; and the same protection for part-time workers as full-time workers.
      Made Britain one of the first countries to ratify a convention to ban anti-personnel landmines
      Introduced the first ever British Armed Forces and Veterans Day to honour the achievements of our Armed Forces – both past and present.

      Sorry to regular readers for posting this list for the second time, but I agree with AC, not enough people are praising our record.

    • Sarah-dodds

      Where the hell were you?
      Clearly not bringing up a family, anywhere near a school or needing NHS treatment…

  • Melanie King

    Best speech Gordon made came too late — the one in Manchester when he just listed achievements of Labour government and the crowd went bloody wild. But ACis right, we did it too little too late. And right also that the leadership election was all about saying what we did wrong not right. Ed did too much of David Cameron’s job for him

  • Charlie McDonald

    Cameron’s speech was pisspoor. Your country needs you — patriotism last refuge of scoundrel… it takes two … embarrassing .. and several sections cut and paste from his election campaign stump speech. Delta minus as he might have been told at Eton

  • Harry Gibbs

    Someone said on radio this moprnign it will be forgotten in a week. Give it a day. Leaders’ speeches shgould be memorable. they don’t have many occasions when people are keen to hear. this was one such

  • Yes. DC’s speech was a cringe from start to finish and if SamCam’s dress did cost £750 that’s taking the mick. I voted for David Miliband but will support Ed; there’s no time to lose

  • The current Tory narrative to lay the country’s economic problems and deficit entirely on Labour has indeed lacked vigorous refutation. There was one Questiontime during the leadership contest, when David ( although it might have been Alan) Davis was having a go at Ed Milliband, pushing the line, that it was ‘all Labour’s fault’. Ed was virtually ignoring/taking it lying down instead of pointing out, that it was a global crisis and that surely most of the blame should be laid on those cogs of the Financial machine, which are mainly associated with the Tories, ie bankers and assorted city types.
    I have also noticed recently that the media do not seem to question the ‘it’s all Labour’s fault’ assertions any more, which surely must be a worrying indicator, that this particular spin is starting to stick!
    Unless there are some really nasty skeleton’s in the cupboard re: labour’s relations to city big wigs and the whole regulatory can of worms – which I would not know about – then Labour needs to counter in the strongest possible terms any such accusations.
    As it happens I do think that politicians have a big part of the blame to shoulder for allowing the markets to grow so unregulated. I also feel that it was particularly unbecoming for deregulation and privatisation to have advanced at such a pace under a Labour government. Nevertheless, politics is increasingly played out via the shiny soundbite, and we’ve all been through media training where we have been taught to ‘tell a convincing story’.
    I think the counter story, ie that greed is not good, and that an irresponsible global financial sector is to blame, makes a convincing alternative, which will resonate with a lot of voters. Soon the cuts will really bite and the bonus season will be upon us. I don’t think many will listen to calls of restraint.

    ps hope you are also enjoying the Andy Coulson fiasco playing out nicely.
    Interestingly smarkets (political betting) are offering 1:3 that he will still be there in January. As DC is so keen on 2nd chances i am considering a tenner, that he might. Odd of him going are 10:12

  • Olli Issakainen

    David Cameron´s speech failed to inspire. Only a thought of five more years of the Tories kept me awake.
    I would not certainly liken the Tories to a dead parrot as they keep on parrotting that it is all Labour´s fault.
    It is odd that Cameron and Osborne have not heard a word of the biggest economic crisis the world has faced since the 1930s.
    The economic crisis started at Wall Street – not at Downing Street. And 64% of the business of RBS and 47% of Lloyds TSB was abroad. What could British government have done about that?
    The coalition´s approach to the deficit has already been tried by Ireland and Mrs T. They both failed. The coalition is getting the recovery wrong, so the deficit is now 100% theirs.
    And the Lib Dems keep on nodding to all this like seals at a circus.
    The whole ideology of the government is based on small-state liberalism. Cuts will not be reversed when the books have been balanced.
    David Cameron´s compassionate conservatism has gone with the wind. It has been replaced by neo-Thatcherism.
    50% of Britons have never heard of Big Society. None of those who have understands what that means – including the Cabinet ministers.
    In the true spirit of the age of austerity David Cameron continues to be economical with truth. Surely this cannot be in “national interest”?
    Will Hutton has stated that Britain can be a fair society, but only if the state reins in capitalism.
    Fairness in not quite same as equality. These days equality of opportunity is not enough. Equality of capabilities is also needed.
    According to the book The Spirit Level equal societies do better.
    William Beveridge´s welfare state was never meant to be a lifestyle choice. As Tony Blair has said, rights must be balanced by responsibility.

    Ps. It is interesting that while the Murdoch press is still indulging in the cult of Cameron, the Mail and the Telegraph are not. Are times changing?

  • Nicky

    Watching the Parliament channel, in the minutes before Cameron appeared, there was a video for the party faithful – the camera wasn’t focussed on it, but it was quite visible in the background. This video was flashing up the faces of Blair, Brown and Miliband in sinister black and white images, alternating each slowly to creepy music, then speeding it up so they merged together. I mean – WTF? Isn’t that a bit reminiscent of the’ two minutes hate’ sessions in Orwell’s 1984? Then the images were replaced by Tory-logo images of serenity. It was very weird and quite chilling, more like something a cult would do, rather than a mainstream political party.

    Ironically, since TB was demonised (along with his successors), Cameron’s speech bore a quite uncanny resemblance to Blair’s first speech as PM in 1997. Hopi Sen has written about this on his blog. Cameron hasn’t actually plagarised the speech – rather, as Hopi says, It’s almost as if someone took Blair’s 1997 speech and ran in through a Conservativamizer (TM) to produce Cameron’s speech. Well worth a read… http://hopisen.wordpress.com/

    Also, Cameron’s use of Kitchener’s slogan ‘Your Country Needs You’ was ill-advised and again shows his distinctly vague grasp of history. This was a recruiting slogan that resulted in millions going to their deaths in WW1. Kitchener also reminds us of the phrase (coined by the Germans) ‘lions led by donkeys’ – a description of the way those old Etonians back then made disasterous mistake after mistake through a mixture of dim-wittedness and arrogance, betraying the lions that were doing the actual fighting (whilst the donkeys kept well away from the front line). How strange – Cameron unwittingly exposed the real truth of what he’s doing.

  • Nicky

    It’s also been pointed out how the Tory logo looks like an elephant having a pee. An unconscious illustration of the concept of ‘kiss up, p*ss down’?

  • Jacquie R

    I wish Peter Hyman shared your sense of loyalty, Alastair. Did anyone see him last night on the Newsnight political panel? He may have supported David, but his damning of Ed was outrageous.

    The other panel members, Danny Finkelstein and Olly Grender already speak for the coalition. The third member of that panel should support Labour. Hope they replace Peter Hyman fast.

  • James

    Alastair Campbell’s lukewarm support for Dread Miliband says it all. We have elected the wrong brother and we will pay for that in the short, meduim and long-term.

    The new Labour Leader risks being a traitor to his party by rubbishing the record of Tony Blair. To see him standing next to Neil Kinnock, Labour’s biggest ever election LOSER, and hearing them saying ‘we have got ourt party back’ is just depressing.

    Better get used to Cameron, he’ll be around for a while.

  • NickSmeggHead

    Cameron looks like Hitler on the front page of the Sun if you put a small moustache….

    I agree with Charlie McDonald, Cameron’s speech was poor.

    I like what Aditya Chakrabortty said in the Guardian…

    “So here is Cameron’s recent economic history of Britain. The mess we’re in now has got nothing to do with bankers – who got barely a mention in the speech, apart from a plea to them to lend more. The debt is all because of feckless Labour – whose economic policy David Cameron actually supported until the winter of 2008.”

    “Well, we were all there when Lehman Brothers fell over, and that’s certainly not how I remember events. And if voters can’t trust Cameron to be straight on how Britain got here, how can they believe his justification for the cuts?”

  • Mark Wright

    New Labour had a simple, optimistic and inspiring theme, “Things can only get better.” The electorate truly believed that the only way was up, and they were right. However, Cameron’s message, with alarming regularity, seems to be, “Things can only get worse.” Such a persistently downbeat message is hardly likely to inspire a call to arms to form a ‘Big Society’.

    Ironically ‘The Big Society’ would not have seemed out of place had Blair announced it as a New Labour concept at the party’s 1998 conference. With an overwhelming majority and a feeling of genuine optimism amongst the electorate such an idea would have chimed with the general feeling of renewal and optimism of ‘Cool Britannia’. But this is not 1998.

    At present we have neither a sense of optimism nor renewal. The electorate are nervous, pessimistic and uncertain as to how bad and how deep the ongoing cuts are going to affect them. To expect people to sign up to some ‘Big Society’ when they are not yet sure just how much this society is liable to shaft them is naiive and misplaced. After a year or two of savage cuts the public won’t give a toss about the last government. It will be the choices THIS government makes when applying the cuts that will be under scrutiny.

    The coalition don’t even have a coherent narrative for these cuts. We can expect even more policies unraveling in the manner we have seen already this week at the Tory conference.

    And Ed being relatively fresh on the political stage may be just the ticket to deflect arguments against the last government’s record seeing as he wasn’t around for most of it and only had a minor role when he was. He is best placed to agree with certain criticism of New Labour without appearing a hypocrite. A useful tactical position to be in as Cameron increasingly tries to hang the blame on the previous Labour government as the cuts make their way through the country and various demographics.

    By the end of this parliament Cameron may well find that his ‘Big Society’ has indeed coalesced…to kick him and his unfair concept of ‘fairness’ out on the street and back into opposition. He’d better hope for a bit of that sunshine he used to talk about so fondly.

  • DJM

    As a journalist and Labour supporter, I really do despair of our media management at the moment. We’re being buried on issues we should be hammering the coalition on, and I don’t see any sign of that changing.

    Sadly, I fear the very earnest Ed will be a sitting duck for a largely hostile media in a similar way to Brown and Kinnock, which is why I voted for the more streetwise David.

    Being in the right isn’t enough. We’ve got to get our act together press-wise. At the moment, we’re just not good enough.

  • Sarah-dodds

    Whenever he says “Big Society” I just think ……”Thatcher, no such thing as.” Is he trying to remind me that he is not her? Because it’s not working….

    And when he says “we are all in this together,” I then spend the whole day singing that infernal song from High School Musical….Maybe they should have used that as the mood music before his speech yesterday. I did notice they were using Coldplay. Bet Chris Martin was having a heart attack….

    Isn’t the idea of soundbites that you come up with your own to get people’s attention and embody who you are? As opposed to rehashing existing ones and boring everyone to tears?

    To be able to evoke memories of Thatcher and make me sing a kids’ Disney musical cannot be the impression he wishes to make. Surely?

  • s chapman

    AC – you never ever seem to attend or take part in an event (one that is not political) that differs with your views or supports the Coalition.I always presume its your tribal/selective nature and dishonesty as the reason.Given that the Govt will engage all aspects of the pension industry as they quite rightly stop the gravy train that is public sector pensions… some of the guests there last night must be well up the Coalitions backside.You obviosuly avoided them.Re this jury you say are out re Cameron – he has a very good approval rating across the board.Mr Obama who you dote,has seen his approval ratings collapse,albeit from a very high level.This is becuase he won’t take tough decisions and lead.I think tough decisons are bread and butter to DC and George Osborne and dealing with the consequences and they know deep down the public do get that Labour left the UK broke….Labour even said so(Liam do dah – I forget his name).

  • G Force

    I agree AC – the labour leadership election has meant that the coalition have got away with saying all kinds of things and a supine press has meant that theirs is the only narrative out there.

    Time for the Labour leadership to be more vocal and incisive in its opposition.

  • Richard Brittain

    Every time Cameron talks now, it looks like he is just repeating words he has memorised intensely. It’s really strange. A few years ago, he did actually talk with some charisma but he has definitely got worse as a speaker since becoming PM (well, he looked dodgy in the pre-election debates, but I think people were assuming that he would find his form in government).

  • Billy Blofeld

    Oh good – thank you – now we have a starting point to judge Labour against.

  • Mark Wright

    I’ve always thought the idea of Cameron as a great communicator was misplaced. But even am surprised at just how vapid he is now he’s in office. He simply isn’t the type of person who has the ability to inspire.

  • Mikey

    Yes,Cameron’s speech was somewhat uninspiring,and as I read in the Telegraph inspired by JFK ( don’t see too many similarities } , Kitchener and Marvyn Gaye. I actually met Marvyn once,and don’t think he had ” economic recovery” in mind when he recorded ” It takes Two ” !!! Felt particularly sorry for Ken Clarke who looked as though he was dying for a pint,and Theresa May who looked like she’d been dragged through a hedge. Tempted to do my part for the Big Society and get her suit ironed for her.

  • KDouglas

    Agree. I’ve said for some time that Labour should stop apologising and focus on the future. I hope that’s going to happen!

  • KDouglas

    I don’t think the media could be more hostile to Ed Miliband than it is already. But it’s true that everything has been rather quiet. I’m hoping this is because Labour is putting a strategy together, rather than speaking out to repent at leisure.

  • Janete

    I agree he was a disgrace. However he voted in the leadership election, Ed won and Labour people should get behind him.

  • KDouglas

    Kinnock is a definite no-no, I agree. You shouldn’t underestimate how loathed Blair is, though. It would have helped if TB hadn’t gone on to make squillions for himself with such horrible, naked greed. And I don’t see why anyone should be sharing their doubts about Ed yet. We can all fantasise about what a great leader brother David would have been. My impression of him, however, was that he was smooth on camera, but not exactly decisive. So I reserve judgement, and hope those who didn’t vote for Ed will do likewise.

  • Fozzie

    For me all 3 leaders speeches where poor its hard to single one out that truely sucked but DC and EM’s came fairly close to it they both had an air of being written by 6th formers as speeches go they crapped out sad to say,could you really see TB going on stage and come out with the drivle the 2 of them came out with no i couldn’t either.

    To me looking at the Tory conference i saw of lot of faces who couldnt quite believe that they hadn’t won back in may (who could blame them to be honest?) they don’t get the “big society” nonsense (who does though?) and they clearly just werent ready for the child benefit announcement that came along it was a very odd affair for sure.

    As for Ed at the moment he’s not doing it this constant down playing of Labour of the last 13 years is beginning to grate with me,labour made mistakes yes but they made life more bearable for a lot of people of those year Ed would do very well to remember that he wont have a lot of time to get his act together because i really do feel Cameron will go to the country early maybe within 12 months if things aren’t as grim as people fear they’ll get as much as he’s cosy to Clegg and the rest of the orange book brigade it’ll be prudent to get rid of them asap and claim the credit if things are on the up.

  • Anonymous

    Nicky, good post. I agree with your comments about Cameron’s grasp of history. I would just like to say that I am finding this con-Dem government quite worrying and a little scary even. It’s as if a bunch of 6th formers have been put in charge of the country in some weird experiment.
    I came accross Hopi Sen’s blog last night, brilliant stuff.

  • Robert Jackson

    Invoking Kitchener seems very foolish to me.

    Quick Google reports Kitchener drowned at sea in May 1916 when his warship was sunk.

  • s chapman

    And one BIG BLACK HOLE…cheers Labour

  • Chris lancashire

    No rightminded person would deny that a lot of new hospitals and schools were built under Labour. Equally, Cameron is correct to point out that he has inherited a £50bn structural defecit created under Brown and that lax (or totally absent?) bank regulation allowed the credit bubble to develop and burst.
    If you don’t understand where we went wrong it’s difficult to put matters right.

  • s chapman

    Here we go again….
    a) who let Northern Rock,Bradford & Bingley and Alliance and Leicester lend so recklessly they required Govt cash ..£BILLIONS !
    This was the right at the start of the crisis and are you suggesting the Treasury and GB didnt know previously??
    Ireland is a fraction of the UK with mucg weaker banking system…do you not know that
    And why do you give a fcuk living in Finland anyway??

  • Steve E.

    Alastair, I’d like your thoughts on how the party should respond to the Coalition’s proposed austerity package.
    Watching Question Time last night, I was struck by both the audience’s vehement objections to anything that smacked of unfairness (such as the botched Child Benefit reform) and Max Moseley’s brilliant rebuttals (where has he been hiding all these years!)
    Nevertheless, a thought occurred to me after the show. Can Labour not ask – on a case by case basis – whether the cuts announced will be reintroduced once the economy has been restored to full growth. Obviously, that wouldn’t apply to issues such as the NHS or Pension reform. But Osborne hasn’t declared whether the cap on benefit entitlements or taking away child benefits from middle-income earners, would either be adjusted upwards or reinstated in whole, once he’s balanced the books. Presuming the Tories succeed in their plans, and reap the electoral benefit by being re-elected in 2015, will they reimburse everyone who has lost out in the intervening years?

  • Julie

    Sorry it took so longm Billy – took me ages to copy it all out as there are just so many!

    A rising National Minimum Wage – the annual uprating benefits around 1 million people a year.
    The shortest waiting times since NHS records began.
    Three million more operations carried out each year than in 1997, with more than double the number of heart operations.
    Over 44,000 more doctors.
    Over 89,000 more nurses
    Over three quarters of GP practices now offer extended opening hours for at least one evening or weekend session a week.
    All prescriptions are now free for people being treated for cancer or the effects of cancer, and teenage girls are offered a vaccination against cervical cancer.
    The NHS can now guarantee that you will see a cancer specialist within two weeks if your GP suspects you may have cancer. Whatever your condition, you will not have to wait more than 18 weeks from GP referral to the start of hospital treatment – and most waits are much shorter than this.
    Over a 100 new hospital building schemes completed.
    12 million pensioners benefiting from increased Winter Fuel Payments.
    900,000 pensioners lifted out of poverty.
    500,000 children lifted out of relative poverty and measures introduced in and since Budget 2007 are expected to lift another 550,000 children out of poverty.
    Free TV licences for over-75s.
    The New Deal has helped over 2.2 million people into work.
    Over 4.8 million Child Trust Funds have been started.
    3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres opened, reaching over 2.8 million children and their families.
    Over 42,000 more teachers and 212,000 more support staff, including 123,000 more teaching assistants, than in 1997.
    There have been around 3,700 rebuilt and significantly refurbished schools; including new and improved classrooms, laboratories and kitchens.
    A free nursery place for every 3 and 4 year old – extended to 15 hours per week this year and we are beginning to provide 10 hours a week to the most deprived 2 year olds.
    Doubled the number of registered childcare places to more than 1.3 million, one for every four children under eight years old.
    More young people attending university than ever before.
    More than doubled the number of apprenticeships starts, with figures for 2008/9 showing 240,000 started an apprenticeship this year compared to 75,000 in 1997.
    In 1997 more than half of all schools saw less that 30 per cent of their pupils fail to get 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths. Now only 247 schools – less than one in twelve – fail this benchmark and we are guaranteeing that no school should fail this mark after 2011.
    We have increased school funding to support the delivery of higher standards. Between 1997-98 and 2009-10, total funding per pupil has more than doubled from £3,030 in 1997-98 to £6,350 in 2009-10 in real terms, an increase of 110 per cent.
    The Northern Ireland peace process.
    The car scrappage scheme, where owners scrapping an old car receive £2,000 off the price of a new car, has assisted with over 380,000 orders being placed, keeping the automotive industry and its supply chain on its feet
    The UK is now smokefree, with no smoking in most enclosed public places.
    The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are now 21 per cent below 1990 levels, beating our Kyoto target.
    Over £20 billion invested in bringing social housing to decent standards.
    Rough sleeping has dropped by two thirds and homelessness is at its lowest level since the early 1980s.
    Free off-peak travel on buses anywhere in England for over-60s and disabled people.
    Since 1997 overall crime is down 36 per cent; domestic burglary is down 54 per cent; vehicle related crime is down 57 per cent; and violent crime is down 41 per cent.
    A new flexible Australian-style points-based system for immigration to ensure only those economic migrants who have the skills our economy needs can come to work in the UK.
    Police numbers up by almost 17,000 since 1997, alongside more than 16,000 Police Community Support Officers.
    Every community now has its own dedicated neighbourhood police team, easily contactable by the people who live in that community and working with them to agree local priorities and deal with people’s concerns.
    Equalised the age of consent and repealed Section 28.
    Through the introduction of civil partnerships, Labour has for the first time given legal recognition to same-sex partners. Gay couples now have the same inheritance, pension and next-of-kin rights as married couples.
    Tripled Britain’s overseas aid budget. UK aid helps lift an estimated 3 million people out of poverty every year.
    Cancelled up to 100 per cent of debt for the world’s poorest countries.
    Britain now has more offshore wind capacity than any country in the world. Wind last year provided enough electricity to power 2 million homes.
    Embarked on the biggest program of council house building for twenty years.
    Launched the Swimming Challenge Fund to support free swimming for over 60s and under 16s.
    Banned fox hunting.
    Led the campaign to win the 2012 Olympics for London. Today the programme remains on time and on budget with over 40 per cent of the construction programme completed and all major venues under construction.
    Free admission to our national museums and galleries.
    Devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, an elected Mayor and Assembly for London and directly-elected mayors for those cities that want them.
    Created a new right of pedestrian access to the English coast, so that every family has the opportunity to enjoy the length and breadth of our coastline.
    In Europe we signed the Social Chapter and introduced measures including: four weeks’ paid holiday; a right to parental leave; extended maternity leave; a new right to request flexible working; and the same protection for part-time workers as full-time workers.
    Led efforts to agree a new international convention banning all cluster munitions and made Britain one of the first countries to ratify a convention to ban anti-personnel landmines
    Introduced the first ever British Armed Forces and Veterans Day to honour the achievements of our Armed Forces – both past and present.

    Remember that achievements are not always quantifiable.

  • Julie

    Stupidly didn’t scroll down and didn’t realise you had posted all this in reply to Billy. Have just posted exactly same reply – please feel free not to post mine as it is a repeat of Janete’s.

    Julie

  • Chris lancashire

    The Banks accounted for a one-off £100bn hit, underlying that is a £50bn structural defecit which is continuing and requires addressing. It may be convenient to pin it all on the Banks but it just isn’t true. And the cost of the two together is currently £40bn interest every year – more than Defence for example. I think Cameron does understand and is straight on how we got here, Brown definitely doesn’t and isn’t, I think maybe Milliband does but not sure whether he would be straight about it in public.

  • DJM

    Problem is, it doesn’t matter how good that strategy is, or how brilliant Ed turns out to be, if the idea that we messed the country up and were heavily beaten as a result it is allowed to stick. And it’s sticking – partly because of Ed’s own rhetoric.

    Yes, we lost support (largely among people who still didn’t want the Tories) and there are lessons to be learned. But we shouldn’t be pandering to the idea that the Tories were swept in to save the country. That is simply not true, and we shouldn’t be indulging them and the media in it.

    We’re up against the political equivalent of Audley Harrison – underneath all the hype, there are fundamental weaknesses – but are on the back foot and covering up at exactly the time when we should be moving foward and landing blows.

  • Janete

    Care to speculate how many businesses would have failed, how many people would have lost their jobs and defaulted on mortgages, if Gordon Brown had not taken the decision to bail out the banks? Your party’s position was to stand back and do nothing, let the banks go to the wall and allow the economy to spiral into depression.

    We’ve seen all this before. We’ve heard the ‘no alternative’ mantra before. The Tories will devastate the social fabric of the country again, then the electorate will remember why they kept them out of power for as long as they did. And why they weren’t given an overall majority at the General Election.

  • Janete

    No problem Julie. Glad someone else wanted to shout about Labour’s record in the face of the Tory onslaught.

  • GJONES

    I think Ed Milliband was right to draw a line under New Labour. The tories didn’t win but the labour government lost the support of the electorate this needs to be acknowledged and due contrition shown.

    Saying that Labour Party need to get at the ConDems with a vengeance since the election some absolutely bonkers policy has come out from this government this needs to be exposed. But first of all Ed needs to destroy the media/government cuts consensus as this is the justification used to enable the most ill thought out idealogical driven reduction in the role of the state.