Britain under Blair-1997 to 2007

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by spike7451, Aug 6, 2007.

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  1. spike7451

    spike7451 RIP

    Interesting contrasts in this article.(Although the writer has the figures of Servicemen killed wrong at 35(see end stats)
    What do you think? Is the article right?Are we worse or better off?
    Britain under Blair: 1997 to 2007

    [Published: Thursday 28, June 2007 - 07:24]

    It was a very different day, when Tony Blair made his triumphal entry into Downing Street, on 1 May 1997. The main sports news was of a late goal by Alan Shearer against Georgia, which in effect secured England's place in the following year's World Cup.

    The commentators were still at a loss to understand why the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, insisted on keeping the talented young David Beckham tight on the right wing instead of letting him loose in the middle.

    As to the future Mrs Beckham, not many people could have accurately recalled her full name then. But most people had heard of "Posh Spice", part of the five-girl singing group whose single "Wannabe" had taken the music world by storm 10 months earlier. Their only rivals in popularity were Oasis, whose third album, released that summer, became the fastest-selling album in chart history.

    It was into this world of glamorous Britpop and "Cool Britannia" that the young new Prime Minister and his untested team would fit so easily.

    That morning, of course, it was the Blairs themselves making the news. As he and Cherie made their slow progress on foot to their new home, in brilliant sunshine past the cheering, flag-waving crowd, many believed that "things can only get better".

    Everything about Labour seemed new and fresh. At 43, Tony Blair was the youngest Prime Minister for more than a century. He brought the unfamiliar sound of young children running about in the flat above No 11. He had never previously held any government post. The same was true of almost his entire new administration, except for a few old-timers such as the indestructible Margaret Beckett, who had held junior posts in the 1970s.

    Of course, there were patches of the UK that were not basking in the general sense of goodwill. At the Maze prison, in Northern Ireland, loyalist terrorists were holding a rooftop protest over changes to the prison regime introduced after the discovery of an IRA escape tunnel. The violence in the province dragged on without remission - the ghastly Omagh bombing lay ahead - and yet the outgoing Northern Ireland Secretary, Sir Patrick Mayhew, said he believed peace was a real prospect quite soon. That day, the province learnt that, for the first time, a woman - Mo Mowlam - had been appointed Northern Ireland Secretary. Some political leaders were appalled at the thought.

    But the main thing on people's minds was what would happen to the economy under its new masters. Previously, each time a Labour government had taken office, there had been an almost immediate run on the pound, triggering an economic crisis. However, the City was less nervous about Mr Blair and his Chancellor, Gordon Brown, than it had been about previous Labour leaders, because of their cast-iron promise not to raise public spending for two years above the level set by the Tories. Homeowners were warned that if the Governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George, went into Gordon Brown's office and asked for a rise in interest rates Mr Brown would almost certainly comply, as a demonstration of his toughness. The Daily Mail forecast that his next move would be to sack Mr George, to get the Bank firmly under government control. No one guessed that the new Chancellor would do the opposite and give the bank independence, surrendering all control over the setting of interest rates.

    One of the main causes of inflation was the boom in house prices. That day, it was reported that London prices had risen more than 20 per cent in one year, overtaking the 1989 peak. The average London house now cost a staggering £85,378.

    In 1997, office staff were trying to get to grips with mobile phones that were cheap to buy and small enough to be held in the hand - though you needed to take care the aerial did not snap off. On that morning in May, Barclays and Cellnet announced that they had come together to organise a service under which people could use their phones to check their bank balances.

    Another puzzling new phenomenon was the World Wide Web. That day, a Scandinavian oil company offered all its thousands of employees free computers at home, but only on condition that they all agreed to learn how to log on to the internet.

    There was one other significant talking point: the burgeoning relationship between Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. It was obvious that Dodi's rich, ambitious father, Mohamed Al Fayed, was looking forward to being father-in-law of a superstar.

    The way we lived then...

    Population: 58.314m

    Male life expectancy: 74.5

    Female life expectancy: 79.6

    GDP per capita: £13,900

    Inflation: 3.1%

    Average house price: £68,504

    Unemployment: 7.2%

    Cars licensed: 26.974m

    Prison population: 69,000

    Adult smokers: c28%

    A-level pass rate: 87.7%

    Households with computer: c27%

    Maximum NHS waiting time: 18 months

    UK servicemen killed in action: none

    Ten years later, what was new then is old and familiar now, perhaps too familiar. Gordon Brown's entry into 10 Downing Street could hardly have been less glamorous, with no flags, no cheering crowds, no boyish grin on the Prime Minister's face. Even the sun did not shine for Gordon.

    The biggest political difference between then and now is where the troops are.

    Earlier this week, the Army announced that it had finally closed the Bessbrook base, in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, where the last British soldier killed in the troubles, Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, was shot dead by a sniper while he was manning a checkpoint in February 1997.

    British soldiers are dying in greater numbers than they did under the Tories because of two of the five wars in which Tony Blair involved the UK.

    On Friday last week, Cpl John Rigby became the 153rd British soldier killed in Iraq since 2003. Two days later, Drummer Thomas Wright became the 61st to die in Afghanistan. Since 2003, one British soldier a week has died in "Blair's wars" - rather worse than the average of 42 a year who died in Northern Ireland's troubles.

    At home, Mr Brown takes over a country that is wealthier, far more savvy about the internet and other innovations, and with better public services than in 1997, but more nervous about the future. The country has enjoyed 15 years of almost uninterrupted growth and steady interest rates, but rightly or wrongly, many fear that it cannot last. People feel markedly less secure in their jobs than they did 10 years ago.

    Rising house prices, which used to underpin middle-class wealth and well-being, are now becoming a source of anxiety as parents wonder how their children will ever be able to afford a home of their own. The price of the average UK home has risen to £210,578, while the average London price is £341,321 - four times the 1997 level.

    First-time buyers have to spend more than three times their annual income on a home, committing themselves to paying almost a fifth of their income on interest payments.

    It is not surprising that Mr Brown has said that the minister of housing he appoints today will report directly to the Cabinet. The NHS is in a better state than it was 10 years ago, contrary to what many people think, mainly because of the money Labour has lavished on it.

    The NHS has 32,000 more doctors, and 40,000 more nurses than 10 years ago, and carries out 500,000 more operations every year, according to official figures. But the fiasco that was the new job selection for junior doctors has exacerbated relations between the Government and the profession, leaving an air of crisis hanging over a service Mr Brown has said will be high on his agenda.

    Standards in schools have also improved, according to a report last week from the education charity, the Sutton Trust, but it added that "this assessment is inconclusive as it is so hard to say with certainty what the extent of any progress has been". Many people find that to be an unsatisfactory return for the huge increase in spending.

    But if children are less good at spelling and maths than they ought to be, they have become astonishingly literate in using computers to chatter to one another, or entertain each other, as has been shown in the meteoric rise of new internet services such as Facebook and YouTube. Tony Blair proved reasonably adept at keeping pace with youth culture, as he showed in his cameo with Catherine Tate for Red Nose Day. Gordon Brown has none of his predecessor's talent for riding the zeitgeist.

    It is difficult to imagine Mr Brown comfortably doing a turn with a professional comedian, or reacting to an event such as the death of the Princess of Wales by coining the phrase the "People's Princess" - and anyway, he has dispensed with the spin doctors and image managers who could assist him. However, after all the furore over spin doctors, the Iraq dossiers, the death of David Kelly, and the Blairs' fondness for mingling with the rich, an older, more dour Prime Minister may be what the mood of the nation demands. It is goodbye, Cool Britannia - hello, Clunking Britannia.

    ... and the way we live now

    Population: 60.78m

    Male life expectancy: 76.2

    Female life expectancy: 81.3

    GDP per capita: £18,000

    Inflation: 2.5%

    Average house price: £210,578

    Households with computer: c63%

    Unemployment: 5.5%

    Cars licensed: 30.9m

    Prison population: 80,000

    Adult smokers: c24.5%

    A-level pass rate: 96.6%

    Maximum NHS waiting time: six months

    British servicemen killed in action: 35
  2. i know it seemed like longer, but it was only ten years mate, not twenty....
  3. Well, the bits sbout public services and the NHS being better are shite.
  4. spike7451

    spike7451 RIP

    Damn these useless hands!!! :p
  5. With regard to the the title of this post, thankfully, by the Grace of God, it was only 1997 to 2007.

    Can you, any of you, imagine how appalling, how dreadful and disgusting, it would be to have had the 'grinning spiv' take over in 1987 ?

    Sorry, and I know I shall offend many good people, but the fact that this disgraceful man was elected three times, makes me question the enfranchising of the electorate. (Think: mail voting, etc).

    Now this disgusting apology for a 'government' is contemplating votes for 16 year olds - for goodness sake!
  6. Spike

    The Telegraph got it completely wrong since they were not using the same criteria for both situations. For instance, how many died in the first Gulf War, the Falklands. Indeed, does the figure they gave include all service deaths in NI or just those killed by the terrorists?

    As to Your last question - we are undoubtedly better off, that is why Labour is still in power
  7. The fact was that they were voted in three times. The Lib Dems stood on an anti war ticket and despite 1 million (maybe, sort of) marching on parliament they still got in with a comfortable majority (Thatcher was working with a 22 majority at one point).

    Sneer at the electorate all You want, whinge about the insecurity of mail voting but whilst You sit at home and chunter on instead of getting out there and changing peoples minds, You have only Yourselves to blame for Labour getting in next time.

    Personally I am doing all I can to get a greater Lib Dem presence in the next parliament
  8. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    The "WE" presumably being those who are part-funded by the others?

    Undoubtedly Liarbour did much for the less well-off, and thus ensured their return to power at each election. However the middle-class, who generate much of the Govt's taxation income, might have a less-rosy perspective.
  9. Undoubtedly.

    Before 1997 I couldn't even get a chest x ray (one of the first things a narcoleptic should get) After Labour got in I had several sleep studies and had an associated illness diagnosed. This is just one of many many ways I and many people I know (both workig and not) have been advantaged by Labour.

    and remember, I say this as a Lib Dem
  10. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    Sven ...

    I'm glad your problem was addressed, but are you therefore saying that pre-97 you were undiagnosed because of the Conservative Government? Or that the NHS suddenly said, "We have a Labour Government, we'll start treating patients."? Why could you not get a chest X-ray? Would your Tory GP not refer you?

    As a LibDem you will recognise the speciousness of your argument ... and of course you won't admit it.

    What's that modified poster? Oh, yes "Lib Dems ... Whining Here" ;-)
  11. I totally agree with you Sven. I dont believe for one minute that the body count would be any lower or the country would be any better off had John Major triumphed in 1997. A lot of things have improved since Tony Blair came into power. The Tory party was rotting with sleaze and corruption from the core. God only knows have further things would have nose dived had the Tories secured another term, they would have felt indestructable.
    I will say though to say the maximum waiting time for an operation is 6 months is a complete truckload of turd. I know of people waiting for 9 months, so I would take them figures from the telegraph with a very liberal (not labour) pinch of salt.
  12. I would also dispute the unemployment figures.
    Unemployment in 1997 was running at about 1.7 million.
    In 2007, it is about 1 million. Sounds good BUT (there's always a but)
    these figures relate to those claiming jobseekers allowance.
    In 1997, the figures claiming incapacity benefits ran at about 700,000. There are now 2.3 million claiming this benefit which gets them off the unemployed register. Not as many as the 1.7 million extra claimants often quoted in the Daily Mail but it does put the two groups together higher than they were in 1997 (2.4 million in 1997 as opposed to 3.3 million in 2007). That's almost a million extra claiming benefits and I, for one, don't believe that that many people have become incapacitated and unable to work. Judging by many of the lads hanging round the pubs boasting about this and that benefit they are claiming, I would question whether this number has risen at all in the last 10 years.
    And if inflation is at 2.5% and per capita income has only risen 30%, how come my council tax has gone up 125% since 1997?
  13. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    "A lot of things have improved ... ". Such as? You make a statement, now justify it. What has improved? Please?

    Meanwhile, Liarbour has been the picture of goodness and honesty over the last 10 years, hasn't it. Mandelson, Prestcott, Eccleston, Levy, Blunkett, Cook .... it goes on and on. Never mind Saint Anthony and WMD, freebie holidays, cash for honours ....

    Oh, spare me your 3rd-hand tabloid dribbles. :roll:
  14. I couldn't get a chest xray because the money wasn't there to spend on someone already diagnosed.

    I have sleep apnea as well as narcolepsy, which is where I stop breathing whilst asleep. This was picked up on my first sleep clinic where they measured many different things whilst I slept (they also found that I had several other associated illnesses).

    Because I was denied the chance of a sleep clinic (though I asked to have one) I went through several years without adequate diagnosis and therefore help.
  15. And what have You done to change governments?

    Whibbled :roll: