Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Blair Legacy - what has it given me?

10 years ago I walked into an election night party crammed full of my university friends. As I entered Sam, the host, took one look at me and declared to the crowd "You voted Tory didn't you". I was the only person in that room who had not voted for Tony Blair.

Having said that the next day ,as I watched Tony arrive at number 10, I was caught up in the hope, hope for a new vision, for investment in trains that worked, hospitals and schools that we needed. I was prepared to pay Tony's taxes if they rebuilt Britain.

This week I sorted out some papers and found my great-grandfather's obituary. He had been involved in local government in Cambridge for 52 years from 1892-1944. He founded the school dental service that was then adopted nationally (today we fight to find NHS dentists), he worked to improve housing for young people and secured playing fields for schools. He fought to expand the hospital and give it sound finances. Today, 100 years on, I am still fighting the same battles as my great grandfather.

What has Tony given me personally? This week, this month, this year.

OK money has been spent on health - but not sensibly. Today I've been discussing our council's response to the proposals for "saving" one of our local hospitals. All of the proposals involved cuts - some of the "cuts" are spun as "restructurings". We are one of the fastest growing parts of the country, we need more health services not less. Couple this with hearing that we are now the worst European country for Cancer care (my husband's speciality) and that our doctors and nurses won't receive the same training he did - I am let down. 10 years ago I gave birth to my first child. I speak to midwives now and am glad that I am not testing the maternity services of today.

Education 20 years ago as a student I used to go into classrooms as a volunteer to help with the gifted mathematicians in local primary schools. Back then the teachers had time to greet me with a plan for the lesson, had time to suggest activities, to get feedback, to plan the next week's session. Today I still help as a volunteer and run a maths-games club at a local school - the teachers are wonderful but they are more stretched- they just don't have the time. It is my view based on personal observations that the education of our nations best and brightest has gone backwards.

Trains, Roads, Transport Tony, if you had told me you were going to build trains and roads that worked I would have happily given you all the tax you wanted. Instead I still sit in traffic jams. Wasted years, wasted time, wasted chances.

Northern Ireland Tony's final glory - peace in our nation. I grew up in Northern Ireland. I know what it is like to be in a classroom when a bomb blasts the glass through the windows. Omagh, my town, was ripped to pieces after the first peace agreement was supposedly settled. It is a wonderful hope that no child of today should have to face that fear.

When I was a child if we drove across the border it was like stepping back in time, roads were dreadful, rural homes were lucky to have ropey electricity and dodgy water. Even 20 years ago, as a student, Dublin showed the visitor the three Ds: Drugs, Drunks and Deprivation. There was a huge income differential between North and South. In my personal view, that differential caused much of the tension. It has changed so much. The South is now the wealthy nation - economic tensions have been removed.

"Peace" in Northern Ireland was started by John Major but in war-torn areas history is hard to put behind you and a change of government and time from Tony did help. However, I believe that the final "peace" has more to do with the booming economy of the South leapfrogging that of the complacent UK.

I could go on........ crime, interest rates, litter, industry, Iraq, defence, but it's enough of a rant already.

1 comment:

Ellee said...

Your great grandfather sounds an interesting man. It's true about how our roads and public transport have been neglected, I mentioned this on Newmania's blog this week.

The lowest point for me was the death of Dr Kelly, a decent man, along with the innocent hostages in Iraq, Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan.

John Major's role should not be forgotten with the Northern Ireland peace talks.

I have been told that it is Ed Miliband we should be watching, btw, not his brother David. He chould have his sights on the Labour leadership next time round.