The government is an organisation currently gripped by insanity. There is nothing unusual about this – it happens to governments occasionally, and usually it signals if not their end, then at least the beginning of their end. Governments in this state, like the Gadarene swine and the lemmings, head for the cliffs and throw themselves onto the rocks below. They are gripped by the need to abolish things, change things and engage in a frenzy of ineffective activity. This wins no friends and creates enemies out of voters who have been asleep for years. This government's activity is waking up voters – and those voters are waking up angry.
Among those who watch politics, there is an increasing feeling that the writing is on the wall for the New Labour government. There isn't a suspicion in my mind that the Conservative party may win the next election – there is a firm conviction that they will win. In times such as these, the government should be pressing the construction accelerator for all it is worth.
Among those who watch politics there is an increasing feeling that the writing is on the wall for New Labour
Sadly, the accelerator has its own problems. Its connection with the engine has been confused. The role of the construction minister has been downgraded, which is a shame, because the current minister is a good one. Nigel Griffiths seems to understand the construction industry and, given more power, he could do a lot to help with the delays that have beset the school and hospital programmes. Given the current situation, few voters will be prepared to believe that any good will come from increased expenditure on public services. For the first time, opinion polls are beginning to register the fact that people would prefer lower taxes because they do not believe that higher taxes lead to improved public services.
The link between the government and the construction industry has become slack because the bits of Whitehall that deal with construction now stretch over three or four departments. Where once there was a solid link, now there is confusion. The construction industry today is like a car that has pulled into the fast lane to overtake a lorry. But, although the accelerator is being pressed, the car does not gather speed. On a clear road this problem would in time resolve itself, but in this instance there is oncoming traffic – the Conservatives, woken from their long sleep and now seeking head-on confrontation with the government wherever they can find it. The Conservatives need to do little more than keep their sanity – sometimes hard for them, I agree – and hope for a good turnout by their supporters, and the outcome of all this will be that they will win the next election.