Blair and New Labour

Glen Frost writes: Re. “Rudd’s ostentatious ALP reforms — in search of difference” (yesterday). Bernard Keane writes: “Tony Blair’s successful campaign in UK Labour’s 1994 leadership election gave him a flying start and extensive media coverage as opposition leader.”

Not really; it wasn’t Blair’s election to leader, it was Blair’s removal of Clause 4 (the “nationalise everything” clause) in the Labour manifesto once he was leader that meant he radically changed direction (hence using the term “New Labour”), and his insistence on picking the ministry, which received decent media coverage. That propelled him into the homes of British people via their TV sets (and that made him electable).

Prior to that, he wrote articles in The Guardian and Marxism Today 

The truth of pink batts

John Finnerty writes: Re. “Here’s the full story on workplace deaths under Labor” (Monday). Read your excellent article. It prompted my memory of seeing something by a reporter in the Weekend Financial Review back around the time this so called “pink batts debacle” first started its run. That reporter also did his homework. He analysed fires in home insulation in years before the pink batts stimulus and arrived at 100 in 50000 installations and compared that with those in the pink batts year — again 100 fires, but this time installations were 1.5 million. A massive improvement in anyone’s eyes. He also look at deaths in the industry — note he said that because the insulation industry was not separately classified he could only use those for area the industry was combined with. If my memory serves there was something in the order of four or five deaths in year before and similar after. I am unable to locate this excellent article maybe with your greater research skills you can find it. In simple terms I believe the Labor government as allowed itself to be falsely labelled as botching this without any supporting evidence. It is a massive indictment of our media and also our coroners that they have swallowed this garbage.

Age discrimination a disgrace

Richard Davoren writes: Re. “You’ll be older too: why we need to rethink ageing” (yesterday). I have fought every “ism” all my life, but the widespread nature of ageism in Australia is both deeply entrenched and vicious and hard to tackle. Because we all age, denying the existence of older people allows many to evade the reality that they too, will age.

Governments are also guilty. Last year, I had just returned from my annual driving holiday around Europe to find a letter from the Tasmanian government advising me that I had to prove my fitness to drive a car. It seems that despite the statistics to the contrary, I am now of an age that I am a potential menace on the road.

Those burnouts on the roads near my home were not done by me.  The flattened signs on the roundabouts were not done by me. The motorcycles that I regularly have to avoid on my trips back from the east coast happen because they are on the wrong side of the road, not me. It is not me who drives behind elderly drivers who are doing the legal speed limit and shouts, “pull over, you old prick!”

I have driven vehicles in dozens of countries around the world, as well as Australia and besides hitting the odd wallaby, have never been involved in an accident. My friends of a similar age group can boast the same. So why is it  that TV shows like A Current Affair have developed a campaign to rid our roads of older drivers? Yes, there was a case where an elderly woman hit and killed a cyclist. There are thousands of cases where younger drivers are killing themselves and others. So why pick on the elderly, those people who, in many cases. are totally dependent on their cars?

Because they can, with impunity.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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