I wrote the following the day I found out that Tessa Jowell had died. I remember reading the news on my phone, as one now does, and crying. As explain below, the New Labour government, which encompassed Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Tessa Jowell and many many others, was instrumental to my mother, my brother, my sister and I, not only surviving but flourishing, when my parents separated.
But amongst the very personal, is the unsettling and untethering experience of watching those people you grew up with and who were instrumental in shaping your life, albeit at a distance; those who played a significant role the degree I studied; and who you saw on the evening news each day, pass into history but not into obscurity. Or at least I hope not.
Written on 26 May 2018
We are currently witnessing one of the most uncompassionate and quite frankly, incompetent government in decades. The opposition is is practically non-existant, and though there are a few good MPs on both sides fighting back and trying to keep some logic and practicality in the House of Commons (David Lammy, Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve etc.) they are few and far between.
So when I wake up to the news that Tessa Jowell who was responsible for Sure Start centres for children and the successful 2012 Olympic bid; a politician who was central to New Labour politics, has died, it makes me realise that those good, intelligent and compassionate politicians are slowly disappearing. It makes me sad, and then depressed because the politicians I grew up with, who actually believed in giving people who weren’t so fortunate a chance, who believed in investing in people and looking after the population, have now been replaced by a group of politicians who not only have no idea what they’re doing but who delight in being as hostile as possible it makes me cry.
I am fully aware of New Labour’s track record both nationally and internationally. I am not naive enough to think that the cabinets from 1997-2010 are saints or did not make mistakes, some of which were horrendous.
But, what has always been so apparent to me then and more so now, is that had it not been for Tony Blair and New Labour, and people like Tessa Jowell, Gordon Brown et al, my mother and my brother and sister and I, would not be where we are today. New Labour’s policies, particularly their introduction of Tax Credits allowed my mother to retrain and go back into the workplace; it made possible that we could eat and go to school and from there University; it allowed us to not miss out on important opportunities that would affect our futures. Had the current government been in power at the time my mother became a single parent, none of the above would have been possible. The future would have been food-banks, zero hours contracts, and physical and emotional instability.
Thank you Tessa Jowell for being compassionate, pragmatic and most of all having integrity and the people’s best interests at heart.