Blair's Britain, 1997-2007

Overview

Tony Blair has dominated British political life for more than a decade. Like Margaret Thatcher before him, he has changed the terms of political debate and provoked as much condemnation as admiration. At the end of his era in power, this book presents a wide-ranging overview of the achievements and failures of the Blair governments. Bringing together Britain's most eminent academics and commentators on British politics and society, it examines the effect of the Prime Minister and his administration on the ...
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Overview

Tony Blair has dominated British political life for more than a decade. Like Margaret Thatcher before him, he has changed the terms of political debate and provoked as much condemnation as admiration. At the end of his era in power, this book presents a wide-ranging overview of the achievements and failures of the Blair governments. Bringing together Britain's most eminent academics and commentators on British politics and society, it examines the effect of the Prime Minister and his administration on the machinery of government, economic and social policy and foreign relations. Combining serious scholarship with clarity and accessibility, this book represents the authoritative verdict on the impact of the Blair years on British politics and society.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A compelling compendium of the Blair years from some of Britain’s most authoritative figures."
John Kampfner, New Statesman

"The authoritative verdict on the Blair years. Anthony Seldon and his team of experts tell an insightful and illuminating story of politics as policy rather than soap-opera."
Steve Richards, The Independent

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521882934
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Pages: 712
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Seldon is Master Elect of Wellington College and the co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary British History. He is a prominent commentator on British political leadership and the leading authoritative commentator on Tony Blair, having written or edited 5 books on him including The Blair Effect 2001–5 (with Dennis Kavanagh, Cambridge, 2005).
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Table of Contents

Part I. Politics and Government: 1. The Blair premiership Dennis Kavanagh; 2. Parliament Philip Cowley; 3. Elections and public opinion John Curtice; 4. Local government Tony Travers; 5. Central government Paul Fawcett and R. A. W. Rhodes; 6. The constitution Philip Norton; 7. Media management Raymond Kuhn; 8. Tony Blair as Labour Party leader Richard Heffernan; 9. Social democracy Vernon Bogdanor; Part II. Economics and Finance: 10. The Treasury and economic policy Peter Sinclair; 11. New Labour, new capitalism Robert Taylor; 12. Transport Stephen Glaister; 13. Industrial policy Nicholas Crafts; Part III. Policy Studies: 14. Law and the judiciary Michael Beloff; 15. Crime and penal policy Tim Newburn and Robert Reiner; 16. Immigration Sarah Spencer; 17. Schools Alan Smithers; 18. The health and welfare legacy Nick Bosanquet; 19. Equality and social justice Kitty Stewart; 20. Culture and attitudes Ben Page; 21. Higher education John O'Leary; Part IV. Wider Relations: 22. The national question Iain McLean; 23. Ireland: the Peace Process Frank Millar; 24. Europe Ian Bache and Neill Nugent; 25. Development Richard Manning; 26. Climate change Kunal Khatri; 27. Foreign policy Michael Clarke; 28. Defence Lawrence Freedman; Commentary Timothy Garton Ash; Commentary Philip Stephens; Conclusion: the net Blair effect, 1994–2007 Anthony Seldon.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is a useful, if biased, survey of the state of Britain after ten years of Blair¿s Labour rule. The contributors include a judge, many professors, and the Director of the Royal United Service Institute. One, Professor Lawrence Freedman, wrote Blair¿s 1999 Chicago speech calling for a more interventionist foreign policy. A third of the book describes how Blair operated, including a piece on his `leadership¿, but is not useful. However the chapters on the effects of Labour¿s policies are more revealing. Our manufacturing industry gets just 15 pages. Investment as a share of GDP was lower in 2003-5 than it had been in 1976-8. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research reported in 2005 that there had been ¿no obvious improvement¿ in productivity since 1997. Investment in R&D has lagged behind France, Germany and the USA, and was actually lower in 2004 as a percentage of GDP than in 1995. In 2006, a third of working-age adults still lacked any recognised skills. The scandal of poverty was scarcely lessened: the Low Pay Unit reported that two million children were working illegally, mostly the children of immigrants. A Bill to make it harder for gang masters to exploit foreign labour fell through lack of support. Globalisation increases inequalities within and between nations and the Labour Party `embraced global capitalism with enthusiasm¿, as Robert Taylor notes. In 1997, the richest thousand owned £98.99 billion in 2007, £359,943 billion, up 263%. The International Monetary Fund pointed out that Britain was as attractive to foreign capital as the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. Peter Sinclair concludes that Labour¿s ¿greatest achievement was to consolidate the revolution of their Conservative predecessors.¿ Philip Stephens of the Financial Times writes of the `unprecedented investment in health and education¿, but doesn¿t ask how much went straight through to private companies, via Private Finance Initiatives and Public Private Partnerships. Blair claimed that PFIs and PPPs would end the need for public investment in those areas ¿ which was, as Stephen Glaister comments, `plainly nonsense¿. Sinclair notes the PFIs¿ `legacy of financial poison for the health trusts that had been induced to enter them¿. By 2010, the NHS will be paying £2 billion to cover the charges the annual charges on PFI schemes. Brown forced the biggest ever PPP scheme on the London Underground, which has been a disaster. Tim Newburn and Robert Reiner note that Canada, Scotland, Belgium, Germany and Japan all achieved crime drops without imprisonment increases. They deplore the government¿s `increasingly ruthless and shrill attacks on civil liberties¿. Target-setting in education and the stress on diversity of schools were misguided, resulting in a free-for-all (including the nonsense of faith schools, not mentioned in the book). UNICEF¿s 2007 report on child well-being found us 21st out of 21 `developed¿ countries. Timothy Garton Ash writes, ¿the invasion and occupation of Iraq has proved to be a disaster ¿ the most comprehensive British foreign policy disaster since the Suez crisis of 1956.¿ In a March 2007 poll, majorities supported the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Two-thirds thought that Britain was over-extended and that it should not ¿become involved in any foreign conflict unless it is absolutely clear that it is in Britain¿s own interest to do so.¿ The editor, Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, sees as `successes¿ what most of us see as disasters - the city academies, competition in the NHS, privatisations, PFI and keeping Thatcher¿s anti-trade union laws. This is a smug, establishment view. Labour under Blair continued Thatcher¿s destruction of Britain, and Brown continues it now.

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