May 17, 2005


Big reform agenda to seal Blair legacy (Michael White, May 18, 2005, The Guardian)

With his own future uncertain in the medium term Mr Blair knows he has one certain chance - the 18-month session just starting - to entrench yesterday's catchphrase "reform and respect".

That means effective measures to curb crime and disorder on the streets and to restore public faith in public services, notably schools and healthcare. "The challenge for the third term is to deepen and accelerate the reform and make this change irreversible," a No 10 briefing note declared. Appearing before a crowded Commons after the day's royal rituals gave way to raw politics the prime minister mixed a conciliatory tone with a provocative insistence that the bills on display yesterday were "quintessentially New Labour".

The 45-bill package contained virtually no surprises. Many of the bills had been dropped when the election was called on April 11 and others stripped straight out of Labour's campaign manifesto.

They ranged from a new attempt to create ID cards and community and market-orientated reforms in health, education and family welfare, to tough measures to curb crime and illegal immigration.

The package is hugely ambitious - even by recent standards of hyperactive legislation since 1997 - and is certain to provoke the cross-party wrath of the Lords which complains about the flow of half-digested bills from the Commons.

If you didn't know better, you'd think the Tories had won and this was their big 100 days package.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2005 11:39 PM

Buuuut, the Guardian and Beeb said Blair was grievously wounded. They couldn't have been wrong could they? Oh, right.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 18, 2005 12:31 AM

Don't know if I share your enthusiasm about Mr. Blair's domestic policies, oj, but I'll grant you this: In terms of alliteration, 'reform and respect' is almost as good as 'compassionate conservative'.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at May 18, 2005 6:05 AM

Blair's #1 goal should be to prevent Britain from being sucked into the EU. And also back the US when it comes time to deal with Iran or North Korea.

Posted by: AWW at May 18, 2005 7:38 AM

We don't need Britain's backing to do what needs to be done, any more than we need that of the Kingdom of Tonga or the tiny Republic of Togo.

Posted by: bart at May 18, 2005 11:17 AM


Are you asserting that the tens of thousands of troops that the UK has in Iraq are meaningless and of no value ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 18, 2005 12:04 PM


They are.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 12:07 PM


Had Britain not sent them, we could have gotten them someplace else. And how many of them actually do something instead of hanging around the base drinking tea?

You might argue they were helpful, if you think the British Army has any military value(IOW, if you ignore the last two centuries of military history), but you cannot argue that our decision to fight Iraq required their participation any more than we needed Latvia or El Salvador.

Posted by: bart at May 18, 2005 5:52 PM


Perhaps you'd like to expand upon that statement.


We could have gotten them from somewhere else ?
Where, exactly ?

Now you're sounding like a leftist declaring that, somehow, there was something the U.S. could have done to get France, Russia, and Germany to sign off on the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In point of fact, no way, no how.

Further, you seem to be saying that if the UK wasn't participating, then U.S. troops wouldn't have had to secure their eastern flank, or administer to and patrol Basra.
We didn't need them, insomuch as we would have gone without them, but they were quite handy in freeing up U.S. troops.

As for the assertion that British forces, or even just their Army, have been inept for the past two hundred years, that is, forgive the phrase, monumentally stupid, and seems to be the product of some prejudice, rather than a rational analysis.

Sure, they've suffered some huge defeats, but as pointed out on other threads recently, the U.S. military got spanked on many, many occasions during the 20th century alone, but nobody questions whether U.S. forces have "any military value".

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 18, 2005 11:44 PM


We didn't need them and they weren't asked to do much.

Posted by: oj at May 19, 2005 12:01 AM


"Not necessary" in no way implies "not desirable".

To say that they were and are of no value is bizarre and utterly incorrect.

Whatever they've done or not done since the invasion, it was of great use for them to secure our flank during the invasion.
Otherwise, U.S. forces would have had to do so.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 19, 2005 1:04 AM


Posted by: oj at May 19, 2005 1:18 AM


The easiest way to get the extra troops would be to end our illegal support of Muslim terror in Bosnia and Kosovo, using those troops to support our efforts. France, Germany and Russia were if anything even more irrelevant to our efforts. If we decided simply to use more active duty or reservists, the cost to us would have been marginal at best, and we could have been spared all the typical Limey whining.

As for British military ineptitude, as distinguished from the professionalism of the British Navy, two centuries is a tad strong. I should have said 'since Wellington.' Crimea, the Boer War, both World Wars, Chinese Gordon are all examples of staggering ineptitude by a nation which has never taken its army seriously. Read Farwell's Mr Kipling's Army to get the picture. And also keep in mind Bismarck's quote about his reaction should the British Army appear on the continent 'I'd send over a couple of Berlin policemen to arrest them.'

Posted by: bart at May 19, 2005 8:40 AM