Labour has failed. They have sunk into the black hole of the political world, and all attempts at clawing their way out have met with public exasperation. The government’s record on poverty, social mobility, education, health, defence, and the economy has been demolished and the bare bones of New Labour are now evident. Let me divulge:
Poverty: By May of this year, ministers were forced to admit that they had all but abandoned Labour’s “historic” and headline grabbing promise to halve child poverty by next year. This admission came as the official, yet still possibly doctored figures revealed that the number of people in Britain living in poverty had risen to 11 million; a rise of almost 300,000 since 2006. The figures painted a bleak picture. In the Independent, Theresa May, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said the promise to halve child poverty was one of many Mr Brown had failed to deliver. “It is a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle is continuing to rise,” she said. “The Government needs to wake up and get a grip of this problem. We must tackle the root causes of poverty, such as educational failure, family breakdown, drug abuse, indebtedness and crime.” This the government has not done.
Social Mobility: Even with initiatives such as a two grade advantage for poorer children in exams and one of the biggest rises in state welfare this country has seen, social mobility has decreased. The ease by which children and adults can move to a higher pay grade has declined, and in fact, unemployment is now higher than it was during any time in the 1990s. The Times reports that; in 1999 Tony Blair told the Labour Conference: “If we are in politics for one thing, it is to make sure that all children are given the best chance in life.” A decade on, the Government has had to admit that billions of pounds of investment in nurseries and schools and on training has failed to bridge the class divide, and that social mobility in Britain has stalled.
Jeff Randall’s article in the Telegraph in July summed up Labour’s social mobility failure: “No matter which way progressive educationalists spin it, the horror before them is unavoidable. Despite abolishing grammar schools, dumbing down GCSEs and A-levels (to create the illusion of rising standards in state schools)…bullying our best universities into accepting state-school students with below-par grades, social mobility is in retreat.”
Education: Where to start! In 1997 we heard the now cliché line; “education, education, education!” Many thought that the new Labour Party would look after and strengthen the British education system. How wrong they were. Labour introduced numeracy and literacy hours in order to reduce the decline in primary school maths and English levels. Teachers attacked the policy, head-teachers belittled it and the public knew better than to think it would be a success. All were right. This year, Labour finally admitted that its extremely centralised control of schools does not work.
Now, as the Guardian reports; one by one, the totems of Labour’s disastrous education policies are being dismantled. Jenni Russell in a Guardian article in June states that Labour’s education department, with its centralising and controlling instincts would have been applauded in a soviet state!
There is no doubt that the government has poured money into education. Billions of extra pounds have been diverted from the economy to boost standards and improve the flagging education system. Yet it has done nothing. The government has had no clear strategy on how to spend it, and on where to use it, thus it has had no impact. Moreover, we hear this week that the number of NEETS (those not in Education, Employment, or Training) has increased greatly. Now more teenagers are dropping out of school or college without a job then when Labour came to power. Now nearly 1 in 10, 16-18 year olds are classified as NEETS.
Now as Labour try to grab more headlines with new education policy, Michael Gove, the Conservative education spokesman, points out that they are a “combination of unfunded commitments, re-announcements, and policies that aren’t even supported by their own Ministers.”
To be continued…