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Have your say – and be ignored

When a government starts to slide seriously into the dustbin of history, the very things which it tries to do to halt the slide become part of the slide. All occasions are now starting to inform against this government:

Labour’s new initiative to listen to voters, The Big Conversation, appears to be a big con: a Telegraph investigation has revealed that party officials have handpicked contributors – and have then edited out their negative comments.

The disclosure will be an embarrassment for Tony Blair, who launched the exercise on Friday, saying it was proof that the Government was listening to the people of Britain.

The Prime Minister called for “an honest and serious debate about the future”, and urged voters to text or e-mail their views to a special website, www.bigconversation.org.uk.

The Telegraph discovered yesterday, however, that many of the stories on the website were crafted by Labour officials who interviewed carefully selected individuals known to be broadly sympathetic to Labour – and then cut out any negative comments.

This government started quite impressively, with temporarily persuasive talk of not increasing taxes, and of reforming public services in ways that might have worked, e.g. by sort-of privatising them. But it is all now dribbling away into incompetence. As a devoted opponent of collectivist delusions of all kinds, I supported and still support the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. No doubt some still have high hopes for the future, but frankly it doesn’t look as if there’ll be many achievements to come.

Let’s someone who is not me rephrase that. The government started impressively. I support the toppling of Saddam Hussein. High hopes. Many achievements to come.

“Have your say” says this fatuous website. I especially loathe that expression. You have your say, and then they do whatever they were going to do anyway.

We at Samizdata are anxious to hear from all our suckreaders. Any critical comment on this post will be severely edited in a way which will completely change its overall meaning until we approve of it, and will then be ignored.

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9 comments to Have your say – and be ignored

  • Verity

    A friend sent me the link, for laughs, and it is not a “conversation” or a “debate” – it is a survey.

    Second, Blair has been in office for six years, in charge of the gang that can’t shoot straight – probably the most inept, cackhanded, accident-prone government in Britain’s history – it’s like being governed by the Marx Brothers, but not as much fun – and he still doesn’t know what he should do? He has endless expensive advisors and poncy polls, and he still doesn’t have an agenda? After *six years*?

    Or gosh – do you think they’re not being quite honest with us and have been steadily pursuing their agenda of removing liberties from the British people, destroying civil society and the pillars of the constitution and attempting to dilute Britishness with millions of illegal immigrants in order to make shovelling us into the maw of Brussels less troublesome? Oh, surely not!

    Do you think this taxpayer funded Big Con could actually be the basis for the content of the next election manifesto? Oh, surely not!! Tony wouldn’t do anything so dishonest! – being a pretty regular kind of a guy and all.

    Yes, of course it’s rigged. Just like Have Your Say is rigged by the little lefties running it. They say it’s a “fair” reflection of the views they receive. “Fair” in the eyes of the Trots and Marxists posing as open-minded editors.

  • Ron

    When BBC TV News reported it, they made a big fuss about how the Labour Party had had a similar consultation before during their Callaghan government in the 70s, implying that the Labour Party has always been listening to the people.

    But they totally ignored the Tories’ “Listening To Britain” exercise in 1998 – which was done at the *correct* time of being in Opposition instead of when having run out of ideas in Government.

    Also, my wife reckons the name is based on the BBC’s “Big Read”, in order to ride on the BBC’s advertising – while accepting that most New-Labour chattering-class groupies are happier talking than doing something intellectually rigorous like reading.

  • “party officials have handpicked contributors – and have then edited out their negative comments. … http://www.bigconversation.org.uk. … The Telegraph discovered yesterday, however, that many of the stories on the website were crafted by Labour officials who interviewed carefully selected individuals known to be broadly sympathetic to Labour …”

    No shit, Sherlock? Observe http://www.bigconversation.org.uk: opinion-gathering for the formulation of better government policy, in a high-minded and entirely nonpartisan exercise. Trim off the “www” and observe http://bigconversation.org.uk: Labour Party self promotion – “Join Labour … Labour’s great … Labour’s acheivements… Buy Labour Party merchandise… volunteer for Labour… donate money to Labour…” you get the idea.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    They must be out of their heads naming something that can be shortened to “The Big Con”. Being humor-impaired does not serve socialists well.

  • I sat down to watch the snooker final yesterday evening but found myself glued instead to Rory Bremner on Channel 4. The programme was an astonishingly direct and virulent attack on Blair and his pals. It was a veritable anti-New Labour party political broadcast and not merely comedic. It repeatedly hammered home Blair’s personal hypocrisy by means of quotes from past speeches put up on an otherwise blank screen for the audience to ponder. I waited for balance to be restored. But it never was.

    Then this morning Today was back on the front foot, interviewing John le Carre about his new novel. In no small measure this was presented by le Carre himself as an anti-Blair, anti-Neocon polemic. One wonders when someone who is not in the Cabinet and not Stephen Pound will actually speak out for the Prime Minister. Increasingly infrequently, one presumes.

    There is surely no way back now for him. The electorate will never return to its rosily optimistic view of him and The Project. I am daring to ask myself the question not how can he loose next time but, in the light of so much vehement opposition, how he can possibly win.

  • “I am daring to ask myself the question not how can he loose next time but, in the light of so much vehement opposition, how he can possibly win.”

    Guessedworker,

    You are quite right to say that Nulabour is no longer popular but that does not mean that Blair will lose the next election. You don’t have to be liked to win elections, you just have to be perceived as the best of the bunch.

    The outcome of the next election will be determined upon whether or not the opposition Conservatives are deemed to be credible. If not, the public will re-instal Blair (albeit with a heavy heart).

  • Brian Micklethwait

    David

    Exactly right. Governments can be on the slide for an extraordinarily long time before they stop being governments. It took the Conservatives the best part of a decade to go from the fall of Thatcher zand related mayhem to electoral defeat. For that to happen, like the Conservatives now, Labour had to get credible, and it took them a further five years or so.

    Also, electorates have a long history of ignoring the London media when they happen not to agree with them.

  • Brian,

    What you and David say is, of course, true in so far as it goes. But the great variant lies in the substance of the government concerned. In Thatcher’s it was undeniably one of the two great reforming governments of the post-war twentieth century.

    As for Blair’s, well, I shall always remember Sir Peter Hall’s remark on leaving No 10 in 1997, shortly after the election. It was the first time in many, many years that the British film industry had been invited to discuss subsidy. But Hall is nobody’s fool and when he left the discussion he went on record with the pithy phrase, “Surface is what you get with Blair.”

    This cardboard cut-out excuse for a government is doomed. It won’t take a decade for the electorate to spit it out. “Things can only get better”, ie fall apart faster, over the year or so that they have left.
    I didn’t think so even a few weeks ago. But I do now.