Our Views on the 2001 Election

by The Editor

The Guardian did a poll recently, on what the electorate thought were the most important issues. We thought we would set these out in their order of importance, and we present our views on each in turn.

The Health Service

Like so many other problems inherited from the Tories, the Health Service seems to be managed by people who have no real understanding of what public service is all about. By introducing a layer of bureaucratic management with the ostensible intention of reducing costs, the last Tory Government removed attention from the patient and placed it on 'the bottom line'.

Law and Order/Crime

Much of the increase in crime and lawlessness was brought about by previous Tory policies for high unemployment levels, in order to keep wage rates down.

This led to a climate of hopelessness among those who had no prospects of bettering themselves. Add to this the envy of those who were better off, a perception of sleaze and greed among the governing and corporate classes, and we had the ideal recipe for an increase in crime.

Labour has done well to reduce unemployment, and we're convinced that the reported reductions in crime are a direct result of this.


Education is the most potent defence against tyranny. A population able to think for itself can see through the wiles of the politicians.

However, in the field of information technology, there's a disturbing tendency to confuse education with training. True, we need basic skills training in order to be educated, but that only needs to go as far as necessary.

Now we need the rest of Britain to follow Scotland's example and get rid of university tuition fees. One up for the Lib-Dems folks!

The Economy

Hasn't he done well! We seem to be in the most stable economic environment since the mid-sixties. However, they'll need to tackle the Euro (see below) soon, otherwise they could be putting their achievements at risk.


We're sure that the tax windfall has come about in the main by having the lowest unemployment figures for decades. Instead of paying out unemployment benefit, the government has turned the unemployed into taxpayers.


The old age pension is still fairly miserly, though there have been recent improvements. Most of us are going to grow old, and it's important that those who have given their best during their working life are able to retire with dignity, and in comfort. When you consider that many of our present OAPs fought for the freedoms we enjoy today, it's only just that they are treated with respect.


We go with the Lib-Dems here - taxes on the better-off need to rise to pay for the structural improvements to the public services this country desperately needs.

Public Transport

The buses seem to have got better, but there's been a disturbing withdrawal of off peak and evening journeys in the last couple of years.

As for the railways, the less said the better. Labour has conspicuously failed to put them right. Moreover, they seem to want to do the same to London's Underground. We think they're daft. We say - listen to Bob Kiley, Ken and the Lib-Dem lady. They've got it right and Bob's got the track record to prove it (pun intended).


Britain has generally benefited from immigration. We are a mongrel country and have been for centuries.

Many problems with immigrants have come about by changes in economic policies. The demise of manufacturing and its replacement by service industries, introduced by Thatcher, removed the raison d'être for many immigrants coming here in the first place. Many immigrants came here to fill vacancies that indigenous Britons were not willing to do.

As to asylum seekers, Gerald Kaufman MP made an excellent point that the fathers of prominent Tories Portillo, Howard and Brittan were refugees, and were given asylum here. Many of those currently seeking asylum have gone through great privations to get here, and some may risk death if they are returned to whence they came. Is it beyond the wit of our nation to find a use for people who clearly have something going for them? Were it otherwise they'd never have got here. We take Robert Burns' view - 'A man's a man for a' that.'

Membership of the EU

There are only two alternatives to staying in. Become the fifty-first state, and totally in thrall to the USA, or be reduced to an independent little country, moaning and groaning with nobody listening or caring.

We need to stay in. That means we have to press for improvements to the democratic process, and particularly those which will subject the European Commission to proper accountability to the voters. The Council of Ministers' meetings need to be made public. We need to take a leading role in Europe, not a moaning one.

The Euro

We must get in to the Euro as soon as the time is right, and that day is fast approaching. The pound as it really was went in 1971 along with the half-crown, the bob, the tanner, the threepenny-bit and the ten-bob note, and any attempts to keep it in its present form need bear that in mind.

To Sum Up

We could say much more, but we'll sum up by simply saying that many of our present problems are down to sheer bad management. To manage properly demands an understanding of the resources involved, what they are capable of and how they can be best deployed.

Much of todays management is heavily influenced by bright-eyed consultants with little or no front-line management experience at the nuts and bolts end. Remember the tongue in cheek statement attributed to I.K. Brunel - 'Engineers do things and accountants try to stop them.' We need to pay less heed to the accountants, lawyers and management consultants and more to the people who make things happen - the operational and engineering managers who know how. Go on Tony, you know it makes sense!

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