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Student Contributions

James Hanson
Upper Sixth
Moberly's House

In order to return to Government

In order to return to Government

Trust — it's a two way thing. So when Cleggeron talk about 'new politics' they do not simply mean reforming the voting system, coalition governments and fixed term parliaments, they mean restoring the bond of trust between the electors and the elected. Their task could not be harder.

Why? Because more than anything the one thing for which the New Labour government was unquestionably guilty of was destroying the trust that the public had in politicians. However, the trust did not evaporate because of the expenses scandal — for allegations of corruption and sleaze have for centuries been an essential component of British politics. Neither is it due to the way in which Tony Blair betrayed the very principles upon which the Labour Party was constructed in order to turn his operation into an election winning machine, not even the fact that Blair misled the British people on major international issues such as the Iraq war. Rather, the age old trust which has now disintegrated, did so due to the hideous lack of trust shown in return by the government. As I outlined in my opening, trust is a mutual feeling or it is nothing.

The United Kingdom in 2010 is more centralised than at any other point in the history of our nation. Devolution may have been one of the first acts of the Blair years, but it disguised the transferral of real power in the opposite direction. In every corner of the public sector, government interference has never been stronger. Targets, risk assessments and databases are now the day to day requirements of vocations such as teaching and nursing, thanks entirely to the centralised suspicion upon which New Labour revolved. It used to be said that socialists had an optimistic view of human nature, free from the fear of Thomas Hobbes' 'perpetual state of warre'. Yet more than its pro-capitalist economic policy or protectionist view of Britain's status in global affairs, the New Labour project betrayed its fore-fathers more fundamentally in its comprehensive distrust of the people who put it in power.

With its unelected spin doctors, cynical approach to public relations, roll call of government databases, removal of powers from teachers and nurses, restrictions on the authority of local councils, expansion of public surveillance, fear of public consultation on major constitutional and humanitarian issues such as the Lisbon Treaty and the Iraq War, even the patronising proposition of home information packs, the past 13 years has been the most distrusting period of government in British history. Perhaps this is because ever since the election of Tony Blair as party leader in 1994, Labour used the proletariat as a means of obtaining power rather than a reason for exercising it.

If a government is to retain the trust of the public, it must show them trust in return. Successive Labour Prime Ministers failed to grasp this, and as such faith and respect for politics is at an all time low. So of course the rose-petaled love-in between Dave and Nick is a highly cynical ploy, and undoubtedly there will be horrific examples of deceit and dishonesty in the next 5 years of coalition government, but at least this new agreement is one based on freedom and the restoration of civil liberties, and for that we can be eternally grateful. The bond of faith between the government and its people can be, for now, at least partially restored. Trust — it's a two way thing. Learn that and Labour can return to government, ignore it and they will be consigned to opposition forever.

17 September 2010

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