Why Blair’s ’New’ Government is a 1960s throwback

I have never been called a snob before. Yet that is how Tony Blair has described me - and countless others - for agreeing with Professor Anthony O’Hear’s perceptive analysis of what the ’canonisation’ of Princess Diana represents: the triumph of feeling, image and spontaneity over reason, reality and restraint.

I have never been called a snob before. Yet that is how Tony Blair

has described me - and countless others - for agreeing with Professor

Anthony O’Hear’s perceptive analysis of what the ’canonisation’ of

Princess Diana represents: the triumph of feeling, image and spontaneity

over reason, reality and restraint.



It may seem a funny charge for Mr Blair to make since he has introduced

his own personal brand of snobbery which looks down on - indeed seeks to

marginalise - all who do not wholeheartedly subscribe to his cult.



But, then, he is under attack for elevating image -almost to the

exclusion of reality - to substance. It is now easier to find Americans

who voted for President Clinton than Blairites who answer to ’Cool

Britannia’. They deny using the term now that artistes of curious talent

are complaining of being used by No 10 to epitomise the new

trendiness.



This is not the best atmosphere for an obsessively presentational

Government marking its first year in office.



The icing seems to be coming off the gingerbread.



This was not inevitable. New Labour brought a sense of release after the

Tories had fumbled and fought themselves to electoral oblivion. It is

also different from Old Labour since it has not yet begun to wreck the

superbly functioning economy left by John Major.



It has brought the prospect of better State education and more law and

order, if only by ratting on the politically correct social engineers it

consistently supported in office. It might even reform the welfare

state, although I suspect its Diana-esque touchy-feeliness will get in

the way. But what else has it done, apart from possibly converting Mr

Major’s Northern Ireland initiative into a real experiment in peaceful

co-existence?



Halfway through its Euro-presidency, its ambition to lead Europe is a

joke and its devolution plans threaten to break up the UK. For the rest,

it has been promises and soundbites - a triumph of image over reason and

restraint. Of course you can’t judge a Government after only 12 months

but you can reasonably assess its prospects on its early

performance.



Sadly I conclude that, however different its circumstances, this one is

a throwback to the Wilson Government of the 1960s. It came to office on

a slogan - forging a new Britain in ’the white heat of technology’. It

was hot on presentation. Like Mr Blair, it believed an initiative a day

kept the doctor away. It cultivated the trendies of the time. And it

achieved little.



After his first year, Mr Blair’s task is to persuade us that he has

something more concrete to offer Britain than New stunts, New slogans,

New wheezes - and the destruction of traditions which make us what we

distinctively are.



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