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Authoritarian Box Ticking Culture.
by Ian R. Thorpe Among the things that have alienated people from the Labour party apart from generakl incompetence, is their arrogant and patronising conviction the public are resady to believe anything the government tells them so long as it is dressed up in statistics and delivered by some fresh faced, smooth talking Labour spinmeister. It is very like the authoritarian regime of Orwell's 1984.

Authoritatian Box Ticking Culture
by Ian R Thorpe.
3 February 2010
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: labour, new labour, government, authoritarian, box ticking, statistics, education, health, economy, Orwell, The Prisoner, moral, intellectual, england, scotland, crime, people, human

Whenever we ridicule the claims made by the New Labour government that their policies have achieved great success in addressing the problems of society, the economy, education, health, law and order, poverty, employment and … well just about everything the government claims to have succeeded in you can guarantee some New Labour apparachik will turn up in one of our comment threads to start quoting statistics intended to "prove" the Labour party are very very nice people and we at The Daily Stirrer are curmudgeonly old gits, (no argument about the second part, we're proud of it.)

Labour Party workers as well as MPs and leaders have a naďve faith in statistics, it is not so much a case of believing the numbers they quote are an accurate reflection of anything because they know as well as we do statistics are all total bullshit, the tool of crooks and liars. No, it is the glib assumption that ordinary people are so stupid and gullible they will believe anything they are told of it is dressed up in a lost of statistics and percentages. Those who are tasked with defending the government's record of failure and incompetence show themselves to be as lazy and incompetent as their paymasters.

As well as the young party workers with their degrees in behavioural science and other bogus subjects there is another group always ready to defend Labour ineptitude and equally lazy and dull witted. These are he media professionals of the so called progressive left. The kind of trendily reactionary middle class champagne socialists who write for The Guardian. These people are so sure of their moral and intellectual superiority and so equally sure the working class are always delighted to be patronised by somebody with a posh or mockney - posh accent they are the Conservatives best weapon in the campaign.

A journalist who should know better, former Guardian editor Peter Preston.

Once a journalist and editor renowned for his incisive analysis and objective commentary on world affairs Preston has allowed himself to be dragged down to the level of a New Labour Ministry of Truth hack spoonfeeding a diet of lies, damned lies and statistics to those naďve enough to swallow it. In a recent article Preston was trying to claim the box ticking culture created by the Labour government's obsession with targets and statistics has delivered many successes when we all know the reality is targets and box ticking culture have dragged education standards down and left us with chaotic schools staffed by demoralised and disillusioned teachers; given us hospitals that improve their position in league tables by sending the terminally ill home to die because an important measure of a hospital's efficiency is how many patients die within its precincts; driven people to leave the employment market and make their living in the black economy because they have faced pressure to take unsuitable jobs and made a big deal of falling crime rates when crimes committed by the under sixteens are not counted.

One of the claimed successes Preston wrote of shows how Labour's box ticking culture and doctored statistics can distort truth in the same way as did The Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's novel 1984.

He cites a study comparing results from NHS Trusts in England and Wales where targets rule with those in Scotland and Northern Ireland where quality of care still counts for more than ticks in boxes.

The study shows that while Scottish and Northern Irish health trusts employ more doctors, nurses and dental specialists per thousand population than England and Wales the English and Welsh trusts deliver more patient appointments than their counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

According to Peter Preston's laudatory and "on message" article this proves Labour's box ticking culture delivers a "more efficient" service.

Just pause and think about that for a moment and you will see that the box tickers do not consider in their verdicts the length of each appointment, the way the practitioner dealt with the patient's problems or the quality of the treatment. It comes down to "the more patients seen per hour the better the quality of care. Spread that kind of thinking through all activities and people are reduced to mere numbers.

This is precisely the attitude that has reduced science, so beloved of Labour politicians, to a laughing stock, caused recent generations of school leavers on entering higher education to shun those subjects a modern economy needs most graduates in and eroded the bond of trust between the professions and those who must use their services. Reduce a person's problems to mere statistics, a person's character to boxes ticked on an official form and that person is not likely to react well.

One has to wonder if the society New Labour tried to create was modelled on that depicted in the 1960s television cult drama The Prisoner. In a community ruled by a faceless, authoritarian power people were totally controlled. The main character was driven to protest, "I am not a number, I am a human being," to which the disembodied voice of authority would reply "You are Number Six."

We should not forget when looking at the results of New Labour's culture of micromanaging every aspect of our individual lives the spread of surveillance, CCTV cameras monitoring us everywhere, the failed but not abandoned ID cards scheme which would have forced us all to carry identity cards with embedded RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips that would communicate our location to within six feet to the authorities at any instant, the talk of making it an offence to oppose government policy on issues as disparate as Swine Flu and Climate Change…

When we look at it New Labour's vision was for a society more controlling than that of The Prisoner or Orwell's 1984, more repressive than Stalin's Soviet Union, more authoritarian than Hitler's Germany and in which the structures and controls are more opaque than the nightmare world depicted in Kafka's The Trial

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