Friday, 11 May 2007

Mr Brown Is Coming To Town.

Yesterday Tony Blair finally announced the date when he will step down as Prime Minister, 27th June 2007. This has run and run far longer then must soap opera story lines, Blair announced that he would step down months ago but refused to name the date so everything has been up in the air. Well, finally all the speculation is over and it all feels like such an anti-climax.

I voted for Labour, in 1997, when this government was first elected and back then it actually felt like something different was happening. We had a new Government, a big change from the Tories who’d been in power for so long they’d grown arrogant and corrupt with power. It was as if we actually had the chance to turn back the huge social divide that the Tories had fostered.

Its ten years later and Tony Blair & Labour have been in power continually since then, but I can’t say that Britain is a wonderfully better place for it. Labour has done a lot of good, we now have previously undreamed of gay rights in this country. When I was coming out, back in the dark 1980’s, I would never have imagined that we’d have anything like Civil Partnerships or the protections we now enjoy. They also passed the Human Rights Act, finally giving us rights under the law. But homophobia is still a big problem, we are seeing the rise of the far right and the Christian right. Trying to find a home is still a nightmare, there is still a chronic shortage of affordable housing – especially here in London. Labour is now marred in the sandals and in-fighting that marked the Tories last years in office – power does corrupt.

When Tony Blair was first elected I was an NHS Ward Nurse and there was a big hope that the NHS was going to get the resources and respect that it was crying out for. At first, there were some good chances, NHS Walk-In Centres and NHS Direct were new and radical yet greatly needed, but soon things swung in the opposite direction. We were given league tables that pitched hospitals against each other for funding, the same as the Tories did the Internal Market, yet none of the disastrous changes the Tories brought in have been corrected. Now we have sight of hospitals massively in debt, wards and units closing and nurses being made redundant – something I thought we’d never seen again when the Tories lost power.

Tony Blair’s legacy will certainly be the war in Iraq, whether you agreed with it or not it has proved a terrible disaster, but I think his legacy should be something else. Tony Blair has managed to move politics in this country, instead of having Labour on the left wing and the Tories on the right wing; we now have two centre parties, two parties only slightly apart. Ten years of Tony Blair and now we can barely tell the different between Labour and the Tories.

What will happen with Gordon Brown?


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