Undoubtedly, the 1997 election of New Labour into Government was welcomed throughout the country. The Tories has simply outstayed their welcome and although they'd started to fix their mistakes the problems of the early nineties still loomed large in public perceptions. And New Labour has done much to make this country better (although these achievements escape me right now). But as someone who, despite being a Lib Dem, has supported much of the New Labour Governments I feel totally disappointed with the last 12 years.
1. The reform of the House of Lords. What was the point of getting rid of the hereditary peers without completing the reform? It has created a weak, Government padded chamber unable to perform the function of reviewing legislation nor act as a check on executive power. Half hearted, lukewarm and unfinished initiatives seem to be the hallmark of the New Labour movement.
2. Devolution. A very "British solution". i.e. it's a total hodge podge of a compromise. I understand the urge for devolution. But what has happened is a confusing and unstable restructuring of the very fabric of our Union. Rather than seeking a sensible solution of referendums for the entire country (shocking) and then implementing a quasi-federal structure, New Labour have just bolted on extra bits of complication to our messy unwritten constitution. It's upset a great number of people across the country and really leaves no one happy. The nationalists want more, the unionists want less and the English just want something. Personally I believe the way they have handled the implementation of devolution has created the basis for the collapse of our country. Sad but true.
3. Gay rights. Wow I thought as Labour took a hatchet to the unequal age of consent and Section 28; here's a Government that truly believes in equality for the LGBT community. How wrong I was. Yet another hodge podge occurred with the introduction of Civil Partnerships.
i) Civil Partnerships have created an apartheid on marriage rights. Separate but equal. Again this doesn't please the religious crazies the Government was trying to appease and it leaves the LGBT community with different rights to their straight friends and family.
ii) By creating this situation they have pretty much made the likelihood of the introduction of gay marriage any time in the future (and I'm talking long term) nil. Plus that introduction will be complicated by the pre existence of civil partners whose status will make it very difficult to bring in gay marriage without voiding or damaging their new found rights. It would have been better if they'd just left well alone and allowed a Government with more balls the chance to implement a more equal institution.
iii) A deeply Catholic country can introduce gay marriage (Spain). An African nation can introduce gay marriage mere years after ending racial apartheid (South Africa). And a former Himalayan Hindu kingdom can begin the process of introducing it (Nepal). Yet we here in the supposedly advanced UK can't do it. What a flipping embarrassment.
4) Civil rights. The people of this country have lost more rights in the last 12 years than ever before, outside of the World Wars. Disgusting.
5) Foreign perception and diplomatic clout. Are stupid, unnecessary intervention in Iraq has damaged our reputation just as much as the Suez Crisis (which we didn't recover from until the 80s!) and, worse, took the heat off of the Afghanistan campaign allowing the Taliban to survive. Tony Blair should be unable to operate on an international level, and it is deeply concerning people still take that God bothering, war mongering idiot seriously.
I'm going to say it: Labour has been in power too long. Bring back the Tories. All is forgiven. I feel sick saying it but it has to be said. New Labour has failed.