Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Excellent article by Danny Finkelstein explaining why Labour is now happily pleading incompetence in the Home Office and numerous other fiascos.
It's an inevitable result of "the centre-left plan to beach conservatives. You neutralise the handful of popular issues on which the Right has an advantage, by positioning yourself as equally tough. This leaves only traditional left issues (public service provision, green issues and so on) to fight over, putting the Right at a huge disadvantage...The economy, crime, immigration and defence...the Right’s popular issues...Tony Blair has always seen it as vital that the Conservatives not be allowed the ability to distinguish themselves in any of these areas, unless they were prepared to make themselves look extreme."
But of course, while New Labour has managed the headlines by talking tough, they have not enacted the means to back the talk. For example, they have not built nearly enough new prison places. "At every stage, the aim has been to manage headlines rather than to manage crime and immigration. The important thing has not been to be tough on crime but to be seen to be tough on it, not to control immigration but to control media coverage of immigration."
And now the chickens are roosting, the obvious escape route is to blame officials for being incompetent. And to suggest that ministers' only fault is to have been too trusting and too forgiving for too long.
Fink's argument has the ring of truth. I'm very naive in such matters, but having now sat through numerous meetings of the Public Accounts Committee, I've been struck by the sheer sauce of certain Labour members forever seeking to pin the latest fiasco on Civil Servants rather than ministers.
The otherwise entirely splendid Kitty Ussher is particularly saucy in that regard. But then, she used to be a special advisor to the Commissar herself.
Posted by Mike D at 10:06 am