Janet Daley writes what I think is a wrong-headed article on how, if the Labour government gets rid of Gordon Brown and elects some younger, more “Blairite” leader claiming to support reform of public services, that this will put pressure on the Tories and may even convince enough gullible UK voters to stick with Labour.
I am sorry, but the problem with this thesis, which alas reflects how even an astute observer like Janet Daley has become a solid member of the Westminster Village, has little connection to reality. The UK public has had 11 years of New Labour. It remembers how, in the late 1990s, we were told that Labour could reform the Welfare state in the same way that only Richard Nixon could fix relations with the Chinese in the 1970s. Since then, the Welfare State has mushroomed, with its vast increase in the number of officials, a hideously complex system of tax and welfare credits; the education system becomes ever more bureacratic and despite a few improvements, falls way short of what one would expect, given the increase in spending. The NHS remains a mess: I have met quite a few NHS users who have, for instance, suffered from the MRSA bacterium. The public knows this. They just do not trust the Labour Party any more.
Of course, they are scarcely more trusting of David Cameron and the Tories. The problem for them is that their leading political figures are – with a few exceptions like William Hague – inexperienced in the world of business or life outside politics generally. Cameron gives me grave cause for concern; he is cast from the same, suffocating centrist mould as Blair. But there is just the remotest chance that some of the statist juggernaut might be arrested if the Tories were to win with a sufficiently large majority. It is a slim hope, but I do not see much else on the table.