A new double issue of Renewal is out this week, and I've got an article in it entitled 'The Limits of Expertise' [pdf] attacking what I argue is an overdose of utilitarianism in the Labour Party and Government. This seems to resonate strongly with a couple of recent pieces - this critique of policy elitism by Jackie Ashley, and this woefully scatter-gun attack by Ross McKibbin. Here is a chunk from my article:
Britain has changed culturally over the past eleven years, and got a great deal richer, but Labour has been largely a beneficiary of these changes, rather than an architect. Along the way, policy-making has been often imaginative and skilful, while at other times more clumsy. Some ambitious targets have been met, while others have been missed. Obviously it matters whether 600,000 or 500,000 children have been lifted out of poverty, and especially if more are exiting poverty than entering it. It matters that the government is not on course to meet its 2010 target for child poverty reduction. But what the government has discovered to its exasperation is that its political successes and failures do not seem to correspond to its policy successes and failures.
A tautology emerges: the great utilitarian experiment is only properly appreciated in utilitarian terms (and therefore by policy experts) and not in political terms (by the public). To argue that it is only the media that introduces a distinction between the two is a gross misunderstanding of what’s at stake.