After two previous audits, Polly Toynbee and David Walker deliver a broad analysis of Labour’s whole 13-year administration.
The Verdict is data-rich but highly readable, packed with informed and balanced judgments. As well as big social triumphs (devolved government, early years care, the minimum wage) Labour largely “renovated, restocked and rebuilt”, leaving police, health and education much better resourced. What’s missing is sustainability: how easily the coalition has begun to dismantle the celebrated Sure Start centres.
The mismatch between falling crime figures and rising public paranoia illustrates a defining theme in The Verdict: tabloid-fuelled public resistance to good news, coupled with Labour’s lack of bold articulation for their “mild socialism”, blunted the impact of their successes. The authors conclude that in significant areas – poverty, inequality, voting reform – Labour failed to secure lasting change.
The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain?, by Polly Toynbee and David Walker, Granta, RRP£9.99, 320 pages