What were we talking about…in June 2007?

Tony Blair in OsnabrückI thought it might be interesting to take a wee look at what we were talking about at various points in the history of Liberal Democrat Voice. Today the spotlight shines on the first couple of weeks of June in 2007. Here are half a dozen posts from Tony Blair’s last few weeks in office. It’s interesting to note that in the first 15 days of the month, not one single woman wrote for the site.

First up, Jeremy Hargreaves assesses the Blair years:

A more equal society? Well who would have thought that equality and social mobility would be lower after ten years of Labour government than it was under Thatcher? That someone born poor now is more likely to remain poor all their life than they were twenty years ago? Some of Gordon Brown’s measures have had some success in helping the poorest, but restraint of the highest level of incomes? City tycoons in Thatcher’s era could not have dreamt of the sort of salary package that Lord Browne lost a few weeks ago.

And what about their motives? Have they been doing it all for themselves – or has this government, as Blair said in his resignation statement, always tried sincerely to do what it believed was best for this greatest nation on earth? Well I believe that Blair and Brown are fundamentally moral people, trying to improve Britain and not just out for themselves.

But in many ways that just makes it more tragic that they have failed. It is on Blair’s watch and in his own house that anti-corruption legislation unused since the twenties has had to have the dust blown off it. And it is under his premiership, with Brown in charge of economic and social policy, that Britain has grown more unequal, not less.

And Mark Pack found that Brown was faltering on his promises to be more open in Government before he’d even taken office:

Put to the test on IDs cards, he’s decided keeping the costs secret is best after all. There had been freedom of information requests from both the Liberal Democrats and No2ID to get released the Government’s own review of the costs of ID cards.

The Labour Government has consistently tried to stop the documents coming out, and even having the Information Tribunal rule against the Treasury hasn’t made Gordon Brown publish the documents. Instead he’s put in another appeal to try to keep the documents secret.

In contrast, Mark also found that Harriet Harman was a bit too open with data in her campaign for the deputy leadership.

Remember civil liberties under New Labour? No? That’s ‘cos there weren’t any. Here’s Stephen Tall talking about children being routinely fingerprinted at school:

 Sarah Teather has been busy highlighting the disturbing news that at least 285 schools in England are fingerprinting pupils without any guidance from the Government about how such data might be used.

Even more worrying, there is doubt about whether parental consent had been sought or obtained in most of those schools.

Labour also took against flip flops, banning them in Oldham Council for health and safety reasons.

There’s an interesting article by Laurence Boyce criticising the intervention of Scottish Cardinal O’Brien in politics. That, over the years, got a lot worse before it got better. He likened equal marriage to slavery before quitting in 2013 over allegations of sexual misconduct.

I think that Liberal Democrats are missing a trick here. Under new Labour and our deeply religious outgoing Prime Minister, we have seen faith encroach ever further into public life; while at the other end of the scale, the Church of England has not unfairly been characterised as the Conservative party at prayer. I believe that the need has never been greater for an explicitly secular political party in Britain. Secularism does not mean bashing religion (though I am not above indulging in that particular pastime), but it does entail a complete separation of church and state. We should be seeking to drive the influence of religion out of the legislature, our schools, and the public square in general.

And that’s it for our trip down Memory Lane…until the next time.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Stuart Mitchell 7th Jun '14 - 2:29pm

    “Remember civil liberties under New Labour? No? That’s ‘cos there weren’t any. Here’s Stephen Tall talking about children being routinely fingerprinted at school:”

    You’d never get that sort of thing happening under the Lib Dems. Then again…


  • ” He likened equal marriage to slavery before quitting in 2013 over allegations of sexual misconduct. ”

    The church had a consistent view on slavery until the nineteenth century when it changed sides.

    This was pointed out the great 19th century Liberal MP Charles Bradlaugh.

    Charles Bradlaugh was an “authentic Liberal” unlike Jeremy Browne, who In the run up to the General Election 2015 is having a book published by Iain Dale (an authentic Conservative),
    Unfortately the title is something like “Why you should vote Liberal Democrat”. How odd that Jeremy Browne should write such a book when his most recent book explained why he disagreed with Clegg’s policies of Centre Party sludge.

    None of which was on our minds in June 2007 when most of us in England were looking forward to smokefree pubs,, restaurants and workplaces which began on 1st July 2007. Over a year after Scotland, but better late than never.

  • Caron, any chance of a response to @Stuart Mitchell’s link ?
    Or is that ok if the Lib Dems are in government ?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 7th Jun '14 - 6:32pm

    Stuart, you can take it as read if I didn’t like it when Labour were in Government, I sure as hell won’t like it when we’re in Government.

  • But Caron, it was what seemed like a ‘triablist’ dig at Labour, and a poor one at that really if a quick search can show that such things are still happenign under Clegg et al.

    Also, and maybe you were aiming for humour, but do you really believe there were ‘no civil liberties; under New Labour ?’.
    Really ?

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