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September 07, 2010


Aaron Sampler

I feel forced to reply. Forget Labour/new or otherwise. Bush was going to invade Irag no matter what, WMD/links to Al Queada etc, all the bs about regime came after. What they needed was one big player to come on board, 'the coalation of the willing'. Blair can believe whatever wants, but with Aus and a few other minor countries helped to wank out their neo-con dreams. This is why like Palin they make the money, weak men/feeble men acting tough. Blair is a small man, he went with the Cheney(never fought in war, like Bush) but tough (typical Republican, who are the real girlie men!!!), doctrine. Blair is neo-cons bitch, nothing more nothing less.


Your point about top-down leadership is only partially right - top-down was targets, but other pressures focissed on imporvement were also introduce - patient choice being pressure from below, and competition being pressure from other units of the NHS (and some private sector providers). Blair believed that only through all of these reforms would the NHS in particular (education is another story) be improved and modernised.

Paul Sagar

If there's a flaw in your analysis, it may be in equating New Labour with Blair.

But then, that equation may be quite justified in a lot of ways.


"But the case for war is fundamentally a mathematical one: do the benefits outweigh the costs?"

Is it though?

I mean, what would such a calculation actually look like?
What units would be used?


"But the case for war is fundamentally a mathematical one: do the benefits outweigh the costs?"

A down payment of ‘blood and treasure’ on the one side and effective control over the second largest proven reserves in the world and leverage over Saudi Arabia and Iran. What’s not to like?

Chris Brooke

I am proud that my Twitter version of "A Journey" has the official imprimatur of Stumbling & Mumbling. Many thanks!


"Secondly, Blair had a faith in expert knowledge. ... In all cases, there’s the idea that a central authority can gain certain knowledge about complicated realities."

Hang on - I thought Blair went against the expert view (no WMD in Iraq, Saddam wasn't a threat).

Unless you're saying Blair thought he was the expert (in which case, Dunning-Kruger).


"I mean, what would such a calculation actually look like?
What units would be used?"

pounds sterling and pints (blood)

alpha male

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Niklas Smith

Thank you for this perceptive post. I agree with your criticism of the hubris of "big people".

The uneasy alliance between expanding choice (seen in the NHS at least under New Labour) and ever tighter central control confuses me. Perhaps the soul of New Labour is in Gordon Brown's refusal to make more choice-based reforms after Blair stood down, rather than in Blair's slightly schizophrenic trust in both "little" people's choices and "big" people's targets? (Thanks to Steve and Paul Sagar for bringing this up.)


I think you're wrong about expert knowledge. The experts did not say that Iraq's WMD were an established fact. It was Blair who said that, and he browbeat the experts into stripping out caveats from their judgements so as to support his assertion. The main driver was a belief in modernisation, which meant not being anti-American, and this led to the facts being fitted around the policy.

This is par for the course for New Labour. Few experts can see the point of Academy schools, for example, and what the so-called sponsors can constribute to secondary education in challenging environments. The driver is a belief that LEAs are old fashioned, Labour has to get over its hang-ups about the private sector etc etc. The experts have been browbeaten, the results of public consultations fiddled (and some of the GCSE results are shockingly poor!)

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