Questions Voters Need to Ask.

by Mark Brook

Environment and Transport

The Department of The Environment, Transport and The Regions' performance over the last four years has been lamentable. John Prescott's bullish, no-nonsense reputation was regarded as an asset: here was a man who would not tolerate ineptitude. Yet, to cite one example, the railway network has become a national disgrace under his stewardship. WHY?

Foot and Mouth

Many farmers who have had their livestock slaughtered due to Foot-and-Mouth Disease are still awaiting compensation weeks and, in some cases, months afterwards. WHY?

Public services

The difficulties of recruitment and retention amongst teachers, doctors, nurses, police-officers and other public service workers are due to:

If this government claims to be so supportive towards public-sector workers, then why is morale at an all-time nadir? Messrs Blunkett, Milburn, Straw and their junior ministers have had four years to increase not only the status of, but also the corporate pride in belonging to these professions. They have failed dismally. WHY?

'The System'

When Government ministers have been (frequently) challenged about delays in their legislative programmes, despite the successful passages through Parliament, all too often, they have mentioned that "it takes time to work through 'The System.'" What is this a euphemism for? Incompetence or wilful obstruction on the part of (publicly unaccountable) senior civil servants?

Concerning the former, Britain has an unenviable reputation for rewarding ineptitude ("Mr. X needs a change and a rest: let's promote him out of harm's way."). The BBC's pithy comedy series "Yes Minister" and "Yes Prime Minister" have sinister undertones underpinning the latter. Why has time not been called on this obsfucation?

Foreign Policy

New Labour's "ethical foreign policy" is currently facing its biggest challenge now that George Walker ("Dubya") Bush occupies The White House. Should Britain (and, in turn, Europe) maintain its "special relationship" with a President who not only has an appalling human rights record, notably whilst Govenor of Texas, but also seems hell-bent on refuelling the embers of Cold-War sentimentality?

On the environmental front, Bush's plans for Alaska represent an unparalleled act of vandalism with dire consequences for the entire globe.

"His Fraudulency" is a moron who, if not at the helm of the most powerful nation on Earth, would be nothing more than an object of derision. Is it not high-time the U.K. distanced itself from America and, instead, concentrated its energies on making the European institutions more accountable and democratic?

To Sum Up

To conclude, New Labour's four-year tenure in office has been a bitter disappointment. This may be in no small part to ministers failing to exercise a firm grip on their civil servants and advisors. Is it naive to hope that a civilian version of General (later Field-Marshal) Montgomery will emerge and give Westminster/Whitehall a long-overdue purge? Where are the likes of Churchill, Attlee, Bevin and MacMillan today?

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