When the history books on New Labour are finally written, one subject that will fill volumes will undoubtedly be why it is that Labour are so obsessed with technological solutions to everything, and yet simultaneously so bloody awful at them.
Yet still they persist. We’re to have ID cards eventually, even if the date does keep getting pushed back. And John Reid insists he’s pressing ahead with merging police forces, claiming it will be more efficient, despite his unwillingness to spend a penny on the project.
At some point, surely, you would have thought they would realise that government is about more than just filing and categorising everything, and that the ICT companies have been laughing behind their backs (and all the way to the bank) for years now. Yet they press ahead.
It is even a characteristic of their backbenchers, with Claire Curtis-Thomas’ magic solution to the ills of lad mags being heaps of regulation and a quango to oversee it all. No doubt, were such proposals to be fully realised, they would include the creation of a National Grotmag Register, costing hundreds of millions of pounds and so ineptly built by Capita that it explodes the first time somebody attempted to scan in an image of Jodie Marsh.
All of this refutes the trendy notion in the 1990s that New Labour had abandoned socialism. While it is true they have finally come to reject the notion of a centralised, command-and-control economy, they continue to pursue this philosophy in all other areas with a passion that would make Stalin blush. It doesn’t work, but it is going to take a heavy defeat before it will be stopped. The ID card is the 21st century equivalent of the Ukranian tractor factory. And they call themselves progressive.