I remember vividly when New Labour was elected to government. I was about to give birth to Eleanor, my second daugher. For some reason I cannot recall, the telly was in the bedroom. So me, our daughter Grace, my sister Maureen and my then husband Pat Kane, were all plonked fully clothed on a double bed watching proceedings. When the Portillo moment arrived (Stephen Twigg erasing Portillo's majority in Enfield South) Pat uncorked some champagne. "Oh well, goodbye Tory bastards" he said, in a sardonic tone, and that was that.
Only people who came of age during the last Conservative government - like me - can understand the sense of trepidation at the arrival of another. I do not think the Labour Party could have formed a convincing coalition with the Lib Dems. Labour was too wounded and divided to secure agreement with each other let alone another party. Its refusal to contemplate an arrangement with the nationalists demonstrated its inability to accept defeat. The response to the SNP offer of support was churlish and petty. At the same time, there are party political advantages in bowing out. Public service cuts demanded by the market, will make the government implementing them very unpopular. Labour can now stand back and watch Cameron take the flack.
And so to the legacy. We all know where Labour went wrong - most notably in the Iraq War and the failure to regular the financial institutions adequately. However, to demonstrate that independence supporters can rise above party political tribalism, (unlike Labour MPs etc) I'd like to pay tribute to what Labour achieved in government. My daughter, now almost 13, is the definition of a Blair baby after all
1. A Scottish Parliament: Credit goes to Donald Dewar in convincing Blair that backtracking on this promise was not an option.
2. Minimum wage. They said it wouldn't work. Who were they again?
3. Tax credits: Much mocked as too complicated, but a serious attempt to address the needs of the working poor and the difficult problem of welfare dependency.
4. Target setting in public services. This is loathed among employees, and the press make a meal of its failures. But it was an effort to put service users before the needs of the provider.
5. Banning handguns. This was one of the first pieces of legislation by the Labour government. It completed a process begun by the Tory Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth who tried but failed to push a full gun ban through the British cabinet.
6. Civil partnerships. Civilised. Nothing else to say.