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Did Things Get Better? An Audit of Labour's Successes and Failures Paperback – 22 Feb 2001

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; First edition (22 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141000163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141000169
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,015,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amazon Review

New Labour came into office on a wave of popular support and as politicians and the electorate prepare themselves for another general election (possibly postponed because of what is happening down on the farm), the recent Brown Budget has established a commanding beachhead for securing a second term. What has happened in between times is the subject of the authors' audit of the Blair Government's achievements.

Toynbee and Walker may be social democrats to the core (both are commentators on the Guardian newspaper) but they have striven for an objectivity in balancing the bouquets of red roses they hand out where they see success and brickbats where they find failure and missed opportunities. The Chancellor's mantra of monetary prudence, as they see it, mitigated against more than should and could have been done to resuscitate the nation's deprived public services and infrastructure.

But their audit is not just a statistical examination of economic and fiscal management. Their prognosis is studded with revealing insights into social policy, education and measures to improve the environment, all areas which earn their pluses and minuses. In their final analysis the authors argue that things did get better but they could have been even better ... if only. Two cheers, then, from the politically sympathetic scribes, but Toynbee and Walker earn themselves three for a thoroughly well-written, researched and, in many respects, objective analysis of what has occurred under New Labour.--Michael Hatfield

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Format: Paperback
This book goes through every important aspect of this government's political, legislative and economic agenda since it took power on May 1st 1997. It exposes the weaknesses and successes with fair and equal treatment and is not ashamed to mock the one and congratulate the other.
Overall, it shows how Blair's government should have trumpeted its successes, and made policy announcements/ programmes on its good works not only by stealth, but also through open debate. Alas, it shows how the government has missed many opportunities to change the mood of the public, and thus has largely done good on the quiet, very often for its own heartland's without them given the proper publicity they deserve (especially from this media conscious government. A good book, don't go to the polls without it.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent study into the first New Labour Government. Whatever its conclusions appear to be, it has some very impartial and excellent comments to make on every single aspect of the last Parliament, but what is also amazing about this book is its ability to be both a thoroughly interesting and engrossing read whilst at the same time an easy and invaluable reference tool.
Let nobody think that Toynbee/Walker's Guardian journalist status makes any mark on their criticisms - they can be scathing and it is not always from an obviously socialist viewpoint. The summary of the welfare and constitutional reforms are, however, the shining part of this book. Overall, this is an excellent (albeit unrivalled) analysis of Blair's first Government that should educate us all on just how our Government acts.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent book critquiing New Labour's first term in office.
Toybee and Walker highlight the policy successes and policy failures and fear that is evidential throughout New Labour's first term in office- the fear of raising direct taxes to pay for improvement s in public services, going instead for stealth taxes, fear of upsetting the Daily Mail/Sun readership tax credits instead of really putting a substantial and more than afforable minimum wage instead going for a rock bottom £3.60.
The constant spining of stories by New Labour and Millbank to check the public mood, all a sign of fear and insecurity.
The authors also point out the influence Mandelson has over Blair -the white elephant Millenium Dome for example.
According to the authors things have improved under New Labour , but could have substatially improved, if they weren't obsessed with achieving a second term. Blair has missed an oppurtunity in 1997 after 18 years of socially disastours Consevative Governments that cared little for society to radically transform British society into a one that is more cohesive, united and wealthly in terms of finacially and socially.
If Blair and co have read this they should reflect on missed opportunties but also give themselves a pat on the back for improving things.
I felt the book was written at breakneck speed to get it out for the 2001 election and was left breathless towards the middle when the pace slowed up.
All in all well written and balanced and fair from two of our best left of centre jounalists.
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