Hardly a surprise:
As Blair prepares to leave office, the poll of more than 2,000 adults shows that people believe the country is a more dangerous, less happy, less pleasant place to live. There was a negative response to nearly all of more than 40 questions the public was asked about trust in politics, how they felt about their own lives and whether public services had got better…
…The BPIX poll, giving the Tories an 11 per cent lead over Labour, was commissioned to test voters' overview of the Blair years and their impact on national life. It suggests voters remain unimpressed by years of public service reform and convinced, despite his controversial focus on antisocial behaviour, that Blair has been too soft on crime. Forty per cent considered him 'tired' and running out of ideas.
Quite an achievement, really. Stuff the jails to bursting and still get called soft on crime. But that isn’t so surprising. Ten years in office, 54 criminal justice bills, 3000 new offenses and one CCTV camera for every four people in the country and you’re left with a sensation of permanent crisis. You’re also undermining the general sense that people can live together without laws governing every aspect of their behaviour. We’ve been trained to suspect our neighbours, encouraged to report on them, accustomed to submit to a proliferation of penalties enforced by a whole new range of private sector and quasi official militias.
So also with public sector reform. Endless institutional tinkering doesn’t convince people that things are improving. It convinces them that institutions are irrevocably broken. It also leaves people unsure of what exactly they are going to get when they use a service or even of what that service is actually for. I had perfectly good care when I was in hospital last year, but I left it with a feeling that I’d got away with it. I might have ran head on into a reform of some sort or into the unintended consequences of that reform, or of the acute financial catastrophe occasioned by it.
Overall, over the past ten years, we’ve been schooled into an expectation of intractable problems requiring authoritarian solutions. There’s an unpleasant feeling of Weimarisation about the place.