Monday, 15 August 2022
Imagine being the poor soul whose lot in life it was to try and devise policies to the right even of Keir Starmer and his sewer. Whoever has been allotted that thankless task has alighted on an old ruse from the Blair years, now known as charter cities.
Like every other nasty gimmick that this Government revives, I remember someone whom I am not supposed to name arguing forcefully for it 20 or so years ago, when he was running the constituency office of the then Government Chief Whip. They wanted to privatise Consett. Yes, really. Complete with the usual kickbacks, some corporation was going to be sold the rights to be the State there.
Like banning strikes by means of "minimum service levels", the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act, the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act, the Nationality and Borders Act, the Elections Act, the Online Safety Bill, and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, are all Blairite through and through.
Another hobbyhorse was the perceived need to stop funding, even only by means of loans, degrees that were not considered economically useful, thereby restricting the humanities to the right sort. After a quarter of a century, the nationalisation-for-privatisation of English state schools is complete. England now has only state-funded schools, not state ones, and they are contractors of central, not local, government. The Left should have made the most of the prizing of the jewel from the Labour Right's crown. But we did not. It can always rely on us to defend its powerbases in return for less than nothing.
And England is always the Petri dish for Loony Right measures that would be inconceivable and sometimes unconstitutional anywhere else, including the United States, and which would be considered a threat to the Union in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Next up will be the completion of the process of privatising the English NHS, which was begun in 1997 by Tony Blair, Alan Milburn and Paul Corrigan. That was New Labour's signature domestic policy. New New Labour will probably not vote against it, and will certainly have no policy of reversing it. Just as Labour will have no policy of restoring meaningful British citizenship to the serfs of charter cities. On the contrary, it will want hundreds more of them. It certainly used to.