Leo McKinstry

Naked commercial greed meets Stalinist control

When Leo McKinstry objected to his neighbours’ plan to build two blocks of flats, he quickly discovered the limits of ‘community empowerment’ under New Labour

When Leo McKinstry objected to his neighbours’ plan to build two blocks of flats, he quickly discovered the limits of ‘community empowerment’ under New Labour

There is an increasingly Orwellian tone about the language of the Labour government. The Ministry of Truth, the state propaganda machine in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, would have been only too pleased with the doublethink of the fashionable mantra ‘together in diversity’, endlessly repeated to justify the destructive creed of multiculturalism, or the inanity of the advertising slogan ‘the People’s Post Office’, launched at the very time when a mass cull of local post offices is underway against the wishes of the people. Equally dishonest is Gordon Brown’s pledge to support ‘British jobs for British workers’, when mass immigration actually means that most new jobs in the economy have gone to foreigners.

The term ‘eco-town’ is a classic Orwellian oxymoron, where the destruction of the green belt by suburban sprawl is presented as a measure for protecting the environment. Indeed, when it comes to the issue of planning, Hazel Blears, the minister responsible for the logical absurdity of eco-towns, has an almost unfathomable capacity for indulging in the sort of rhetorical euphemisms, distortions and contradictions that characterised official pronouncements in Orwell’s novel. So she claims that she wants the public to have a bigger say over local planning issues, but at the same time she wants the system to be more ‘streamlined’ and ‘efficient’ by removing ‘bureaucratic hurdles’, which is Orwellian code for overriding local objections to development schemes. She tells us with a straight face that Gordon Brown ‘really genuinely means it when he says he wants to move from the big centralist state to more local involvement’, yet she and the Prime Minister are proposing to set up a vast new centralist unelected quango called the Independent Planning Commission to oversee major projects.

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