Blair, reform and Dickens

28 September 2005

After reading through Tony Blair’s conference speech (which deserves a thorough fisking if ever there was one), just waht is his obsession with change? Everything must be continually reformed, reshaped, or else the juggernaut of globalisation will run over us all. He possessed a near-obsessive fatalism, in which we’re not allowed to debate or try to steer the course of progress. Nothing is allowed to get in the way, we must all acquiesce. Technologically, this means ID cards are a natural accepted consequence; economically, it means economic “liberalisation” and a steady opening of every facet of life to market forces; socially, this means junking whatever rights and freedoms necessary to win an unwinnable war on terror. Blair scorns obsession with ideology, and urges freedom from doctrine, without realising that a mile-wide ideological streak runs right through him.

Anyway, I haven’t time to go through all the distortions and rhetorical flim-flammery, but by far the worst was this:

We are trying to fight 21st-century crime – ASB [anti-social behaviour], drug-dealing, binge-drinking, organised crime – with 19th-century methods, as if we still lived in the time of Dickens.

Now, I don’t know know my Dickens too well, but given that Dickens created characters such as the Artful Dodger’s marauding gang of child thieves, the opium addict John Jasper, the drunkard Bill Sikes and the master arch-criminal Fagin, it perhaps suggests that these crimes are not as uniquely “21st century” as Blair likes to make out…


One Response

He’s like most of the other managers or bosses you’ve ever come across, who are basically insecure and not that brilliant, who feel they have to DO something, anything, to make it look as if they are doing a good job. That usually means making a complete cock-up of systems that would really work OK if only they were left alone for the people who work in them to do their job properly. Education is the prime example.