http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... es-libertyLabour candidates must address the liberty deficit
Posted by Henry Porter Thursday 20 May 2010 17.10 BST guardian.co.uk The failures of the database state have been laid bare, but most of the leadership candidates don't see where Labour went wrong
The liberty deficit left by the last government – the gap between the freedom enjoyed by UK citizens in 1997 and what was left in 2010 – is not something that Labour has got its head round yet. The candidates in the leadership election talk about reconnecting with the public, but Balls, Burnham and the Milibands simply don't grasp that they have effectively excluded themselves from the only liberal-progressive act in town. Diane Abbott gets it, but the standard male products of the New Labour curia have got a long way to go.
One reason they wrote themselves out of the picture appears in a study from the Centre for Technology Policy Research at the LSE, which is summarised by Ian Grant in Computer Weekly this week. The LSE thinktank concludes: "Despite a spend of as much as £21bn (a year) on public sector IT, it is difficult to find any compelling examples of direct productivity gains and improved public services."
Much of the money was spent on intrusive databases – last year, I estimated a total of well over £33bn. We were told it was necessary to give up our personal information to allow the joined-up delivery of services. Prospect magazine praised the programme and declared that personal data was like a tax that we owed to the state; that privacy was luxury we could no longer afford in the modern era.