Better or Worse?: Has Labour Delivered? Paperback – 7 Feb 2005
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"An indispensable audit of what Labour did and did not achieve. Forget the promises - here are the results." Andrew Marr
About the Author
Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist and broadcaster and formerly the BBC's social affairs editor. Her previous books include the acclaimed Hard Work, based on her personal experience of low-paid work. She has won National Press Awards and has been What the Papers Say columnist of the year. David Walker edits Public, the Guardian's new monthly magazine for senior executives and was formerly chief leader writer of the Independent. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio Four's Analysis programme and a trustee of the National Centre for Social Research.
Top Customer Reviews
This book is extraordinarily bad. Everything in it, from the selection of chapter heading to the content, is simply rehashed short-term 'news', itself determined by the censoring policies of civil servants, editors, the BBC, and the rest of the shambolic half-educated phonies who front for real power. There is nothing long-term, nothing wise, nothing that involves planning or allowing for remote consequences. Everything is unelected placemen (only a few years later it's hard to remember who they were), fragmentary statistics, a small standardised official vocabulary supplemented by newly made-up phrases - 'liberal', '9/11', 'Taliban', 'galvanising vision', 'basic skills', 'communities', 'localism', 'devolution', 'governance', 'human rights' ... What all these things have in common is taking the official version and feeding it back to the suckers. The only amusing part is the way the authors try to liven up their rubbish, usually with mixed metaphors - there's a comic passage about snakes and ladders, based on ''Schools minister David Miliband' which is typical of the nauseating writing style.
What's omitted is: let's try to list them: wider aspects of war; what was the real object? Britain's legal system: how much is arranged as a money-making scheme? Immigrant violence: why is it systematically concealed? The 'Joint Tenancy' arrangement by which immigrants, even phony asylum seekers, are housed before locals? (By John Prescott's son, for example). What about teaching - is it deliberately dumbed down? Could anybody have ever been serious about 50% attending university? Fake colleges? Why are public schools left alone despite supposed egalitarianism? What about the Bank of England?Read more ›
However when neccesary the Labour Government is pulled up short for its timidity and lack of ambition at a time when Labour is in a historically unique position to advance the progressive and social justice agenda.Any hint of squandering this golden opportunity is quite rightly scorned by the authors.Fair but firm is how their style is best summed up!
Metaphorically speaking Polly Toynbee and David Walker remind me in this book of the wise owl in a pub-the voice of reason standing at the bar who ever so gently but determindly corrects the drunk who knows everything about how little the government has done for the country and what a useless waste of space they all our at one end of the bar and tempers the enthuiasm and exuberance of the drunk at the other end of the bar who thinks their party of choice has done everything right.They make good ringmasters between the two opposing views of the arguing drunks by calmly and clearly explaining the reality of what the evidence shows!Thats this excellent book in a nutshell.A fair and well balanced assesment of New Labour in power.Worth a read.
This Government seems to have been attacked more than any other, probably because so much was expected, and seemingly they have failed to deliver.
Then you read Polly Toynbee's excellent book and you start to see how much has actually been accomplished in Blair's 8 years in charge. This is a highly-detailed and objective analysis of what the Labour Government set out to do in its two manifestos, what perhaps needed to be done outside these, and how the reality matches up to the objectives. In some cases they have failed, in others they have delivered exactly what they said they would, but whatever your view, it's tremendously useful to have this kind of exhaustive review at your side when you think about your vote.