It becomes increasingly difficult here also to define "left," whatever is left of
it.  But the Right is pretty clear.  But the problem is that there is not a
single way of being non-Right, so it splinters.

I did not see the TUC speech.  It's hard to get British news here unless
one takes time to go search it out, and that is hard in Portland
sometimes.  What was the gist of it?

Date sent:              Mon, 9 Dec 2002 19:45:47 +0100
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   INGELBIEN RAPHAEL <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: OT British politics (was Thatcher)
To:                     [log in to unmask]

From Nancy:

> I thought it very odd to see Labour called centrist and Lib-Dem not
> (...) So I am still puzzled at the way you (Kate) define the parties.

When one looks at issues like public services, it's hard to tell who is
now left of centre. In some respects, New Labour is more right-wing than
the Lib Dems. Also, did you note Charles Kennedy's address to the TUC
conference this year?

From Kate:

> Labour is almost completely centrist, which is why they won so
> decisively
in the last couple of
> elections

It looks decisive if you consider their majority in the Commons. It looks
definitely less decisive if you consider the number of votes cast for
Labour. Blair never got as many votes as John Major in 1992 - or as
Thatcher in the eighties. In some constituencies (often held by Labour),
the turn-out at the last general election was a joke (less than 40%). The
overall turnout was slightly over 60% - an all-time low. How solid is
popular support for Blair, really?

> rather, Labour was now the spokesperson for all of the middle class and
the best interests of Britain.

Is there any dictionary that defines 'middle class' as a synonym of
'Britain' ?

> He made it clear that improving their Health Service and Educational
system, and the interests of the
> nation as a whole, was more important than union interests

That's presumably why Britain is now exporting patients to continental
hospitals. That's presumably why teacher shortages are growing at the
rate as educational red tape.  That's presumably why the British
university system is heading for meltdown.

> The Lib-Dems are now clearly to the left of many of Blair and Labour's
positions, the issue of Europe > and how intimate Britain should be in
their alliance being prominent among the issues.

I wonder where that leaves the Europhile Tories who want to sign up to the
single currency. Are they left-wing? The Europhobia of the Tory leadership
certainly didn't help the party much at the last two elections.

I'm sure Nancy could also point out that there are parts of Britain where
the Euro is popular - Scotland, for instance. Though I suspect that that
popularity is sometimes inspired by a rejection of English attitudes, more
than by a real grasp of what is at stake in the single currency.


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