The Wilted Rose

Charting Labour meltdown 2007-2010

The Wilted Rose awakens (again): Labour has not been a progressive party “for an age”

Watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers the other evening, the following line caught my attention:

TREEBEARD: The ents have not troubled about the wars of men and wizards for a very long time. But now something is about to happen that has not happened for an age

As you know, the ents keep discussing what they are going to do, and then finally do something about it. The parallel with new Labour is irresistible, except that Labour is still discussing what they are going to do about child poverty, entrepreneurship, job creation, and many other important policy matters. Socialist ideology has a lot to say about these issues, and yet its insistence upon massive public spending, the oversized state, and therefore high taxation (disproportionately on the less well off, i.e. the poor) means that Labour can never deliver.

Labour was once progressive. It was once a party that stood for something, and stood up for the working man or woman. Yet now, it is empty ideology and failed policies, that have led to one of the worst recessions that the UK has experienced since the 1920s.

Two years ago I started this blog, angered by the state of our country, and was particularly vexed by the murder of Rhys Jones and the lawlessness and the impunity with which perpetrators committed crimes. The torture and murder of Peter Connelly, or Baby P, who was recently named, and his pathetic mother and her coven of vicious men also highlights the social – and, in effect, socio-economic – failures of the New Labour project. And so have many other tragedies over the 12 years of Labour, from Blair to Brown.

Now while I admit that I have had some concerns about the Tories’ (and Mr Osborne’s) reactions to the recession, the Conservatives are in opposition and, arguably, would have reacted better if they were in Government. However, Mandelson’s attacks are groundless – Tim Montgomerie has already debunked them thoroughly.

I read Mandelson’s article and the front cover of Tuesday’s Guardian (it being one of few British newspapers available in Finland where I am until early September), but let me make this comparison. Why is it that, after 12 years of New Labour, a child born and brought up in Haringey fares so much worse than a child born and raised in one of the most socially deprived areas of Helsinki? Why is it inconceivable that the Baby P tragedy (and atrocity) would happen in Finland, and yet it happens again and again in Broken Britain?

Why indeed. If Labour set out to deal with the (socio-economic) causes of crime and to eradicate child poverty through its “Third Way” policies, that Lord Mandy constantly trumpets, why is it that these policies have been abject failures? What is the point of 12 years of Bliarism and Brownism when vulnerable families are being evicted daily, in their droves, from their homes due to repossessions by state-backed mortgage lenders? And, elsewhere, because they cannot afford the rent?

The truth is that Labour has had over a decade and yet has been too busy entertaining Cool Britannia to bother about doing what it said it would do in its 1997, 2001 and 2005 manifestos.

It is really Labour, of which Mandy boasts about being a major architect, that is the “Do Nothing Party”. Labour has not been a progressive party “for an age” and Mandelson’s article is yet more empty rhetoric to try to act as “The Emperor’s New Clothes” over a Government and Labour Party that is embarrassingly naked of delivering on its many broken promises.

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13 August, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Why the Tories need a “Northern Strategy”

The latest Populus poll for the Times has Con 39%, Lab 35%, LD 17%.

But, as the detailed figures show, amongst men it’s Con 38%, Lab 35% but women are Con 41%, Lab 32% – with the Tories around 20 points ahead in the South, Wales/SW, and the Midlands, and Labour well ahead in the North and Scotland.  As a writer in the Salisbury Review observed a few years back, the Conservatives need a “Northern Strategy” (á la Nixon’s phenomenally successful Southern Strategy).

I’ve argued before that it’s less a Brown bounce, than an Osborne bust.  The Osborne effect, but also worryingly more widely the malaise that has fallen the Tories on matters economic (and especially fiscal), has allowed Labour to claw back a considerable portion of its former support.

Whenever the General Election comes, and Brown must surely be weighing up his chances next spring with this latest ‘vindication’ (or vindictive?) poll, the Labour Party is going to offer 4-5 years of the same as we’ve had over the last 11.  And that is not good for Britain – a surefire way of breeding more Karen Matthewses and more tragedies like the death of Baby P.

Ed Balls (with Mandy spinning away in the background, doing more damage than even he did in Brussels) has carefully transferred the blame to the hapless Sharon Shoesmith.  Yes, it happened on Ms Shoesmith’s watch – and, whilst it was the murderers who killed Baby P, it wasn’t social workers (who are being increasingly demonised in the name of political expediency, exacerbating the recruitment and retention crisis in the profession).

It’s partly ideological, but it’s also systemic, and it’s a polical failure (as Camila of Kids Company has argued), which means that many Social Services departments are rotten to the core.  But, at the end of the day, the buck stops with the even more hapless Government and the clearly out-of-his depth Mr Balls. 

At the same time, Labour looks in a better position in the polls when it has overseen 11 years of economic (eventually after the apparent but false ‘boom’) and social (drip-drip-drip) collapse. 

It’s time for a change but a large part of the population doesn’t yet realise it.  But then, whatever happens, as they used to say in the States, the “welfare checks [sic] will keep comin’.”

One way that the Tories could kickstart a “Northern Strategy”, which is doable as they won the otherwise inpregnable Labour stronghold of Crewe & Nantwich in May this year, is to bring back David Davis who appeals to Northerners like the Oxbridge boys don’t.  The next step, just as they did beautifully in Crewe, would be to tell the people of the North what the Tories can do for them economically and socially.  Voilá.

9 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Haringey resignations: they should be prosecuted: but it’s endemic

Meehan, Shoesmith and Santry – Leader of Haringey Council, its Director of Children’s Services, and its Children’s Services Cabinet Member – have been forced to go following a scathing independent report into the murder of Baby P. 

As Balls’ Tory shadow, Michael Gove MP, has just pointed out on Sky News, the same authority was given a “clean bill of health” in a report a year ago.  But that there are other failings in a full report that he has seen  but which has not been made public in this climate of Government secrecy and cover-up. 

Had Cameron not “gone ballistic” at PMQs a few weeks back, Labour would probably have covered up this report and allowed Meehan et al to cling on to their jobs…

Gove can’t say what is in the report as the Met would probably arrest him on a trumped-up charge. 

Why has the Department for Public Prosecutions and the Met not started legal proceedings against those who have resigned, given their culpability in the death of this child?  These people should be arrested, not Damian Green.

And so it goes on.  Ed Balls should reconsider his position and resign – after all, it’s happened under his watch and one of his fellow Ministers was tipped off some time ago by a “whistleblower”.

Kids Company’s Camila Batmangehelidjh has outlined on Sky how there should be a “structural review” of children’s services across the country. The “chronic underfunding” of social services departments and a “lack of leadership of politicians” highlights what she describes as a “political flaw” and which needs a new structure.  Individual social workers should not be vilified, she explains, as it is a flawed and badly structured system across many Social Services departments.

Ms Batmangehelidjh, who is one of the most respected “social entrepreneurs” in helping disadvantaged and vulnerable children, is absolutely spot on.  It has been clear that this is an endemic problem due to the “political flaw” that Ms Batmangehelidjh outlines.

We don’t need any more weasel words from Ed Balls or his ilk – we need action, for the sake of our kids – put in the resources centrally and sort out the structure in these social services departments.  And, most of all, change the “ideology” that Tim Montgomerie bemoans:

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the whole affair is that the fate of Baby P is the claim that all the usual procedures were followed, all the boxes ticked, all the shibboleths observed. There is ideological problem represented by a hostility to adoption by social workers and not only in Haringey.

This proves that it is the system that it is at fault – if we don’t deal with this “political flaw”, while we are fussing about trying to fix the banks, then we as a society will be a lot worse off.  And, for the sake of kids like Baby P, we owe it to them to resolve this endemic “political flaw” and ideology as soon as possible.

1 December, 2008 Posted by | economy, Gordon Brown, kids, Labour Party, politics, social breakdown, social services | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

So much for “Every Child Matters”

A few years back Labour launched “Every Child Matters” with great fanfare.  It was the policy document that was supposed to make sure there would never again be another Victoria Climbié.

Haringey Council’s social workers’ incompetence, however, has led to the death of Baby P, or Child A, who was murdered in the family home by an evil brute:

The report says that there were “numerous examples” of good practice [RUBBISH] within all agencies involved in the case, but concludes:

“There were many factors which contributed to the inability of the agencies to understand what was happening to Child A.  With the possible exception of the paediatric assessment of 01.08.07, none on their own were likely to have enabled further responses that might have prevented the tragic outcome.”

The report says that just over a week before he died, legal advice was that on the information provided, the threshold for initiating care proceedings had not been met [WHEN SHOULD IT BE?] and adds:

“Most critically Child A was seen on 01.08.07 by a community paediatrician for the purpose of the long awaited development assessment.  Expert medical opinion commissioned during the course of this serious case review concluded that a diagnosis of abuse should have been made at that point.”

It also says:

“This serious case review has revealed clear evidence of appropriate communication between and within agencies as well as weaknesses in specific areas of information flow.”

The review found that “safeguarding structures exist across Haringey agencies and offer a sound framework for the implementation of required procedures, it has also identified scope for improving the detailed application of some processes.”  

The above justification of Labour-run Haringey Council’s overseeing of the murder of a child – and outright incompetence – as well as the poor framework put in place by the Labour Government just shows why we can’t trust Labour with our children.

So much for “Every Child Matters”.  Every child clearly doesn’t matter.

12 November, 2008 Posted by | Gordon Brown, kids, Labour Party, politics | , | 3 Comments