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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Your comments on The Labour Years

Congratulations to the Panorama team for such an incisive, unbiased analysis of the Labour record on Public Services. Its about time the media stopped being Millbank stooges, attacking Doctors, nurses and teachers and this programme is a welcome return to unfettered honest journalism. Well done, keep it up, the public deserve more of this intelligent programming.
Adrian Lord

Of course the programme was unbalanced. It would have been perfectly fair outside of an election period, but not on the Sunday before poling day. The King's Fund economist was taken at face value and not pressed, while the Labour spokesman was barely allowed to defend the claims and promises made. Incidentally the programme did not say what The King's Fund is, or what political affiliation it might have. (It is in fact a healthcare charity but why does a charity need an economist, let alone a chief economist?) The programme acted like the woman who famously harangued Tony Blair about the conditions her husband was suffering then ran off without listening to his response. If the savings promised were "over the lifetime of the Parliament" then the 1bn target was clearly achieved. The government has mislead in the past by announcing the same "new" spending several times over, but in this case is factually correct. The presenter continually referred to "triple counting", but over four years surely if it existed it would be quadruple counting. Clearly he did not understand the figures at all.
Kevin Hall

Having posted my comments to this forum I have looked at the other posts and read with interest the comments regarding the so called triple accounting argument. What makes the programme more dangerous is the fact that some of the arithmetically challenged are convinced the government are at it. The fact is the government have understated the money saved, the correct amount saved should have included interest over they period.
James Donlan

The Labour clones all believe what Blair/Campbell say and don't really think

Derek Cochrane, Stirling
Melanie Drees of London and many others who have commented on the timing and content of this programme are wrong. Panorama made a similar programme last year to do with New Labour's method of accounting. That is probably why they were not allowed near President Blair during the election campaign. As a government they have peddled the same mistruths since they came to power. Unfortunately the Labour clones all believe what Blair/Campbell say and don't really think. If they did stop and think for a few minutes they may just realise that at this election they are being promised the same as we were promised at the 1997 election. In case anyone is wondering, I AM NOT A TORY. Just a guy who likes to deal with FACTS, not the spin and fairytales of New Labour, most of which is delivered with a smugness that is sickening. Keep up the good work PANORAMA. Well done.
Derek Cochrane

I thought your programme was a disgrace and was a 50 minute party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative party. Very little time was give over to the successes that Labour have had. I know that Labour still have a lot to do, but come on BBC, let's be a little more impartial!!
Sara Wixey

I hadn't watched Panorama for years, believing it to have been emasculated, and to be running scared. Thank you for the last programme, which I watched having heard you'd been kept off the New Labour bus! Well done, it was back to being like it used to be. One of the best things, that Panorama always did well, and this one did, was interview people who were lying or prevaricating, and show them alongside someone who was not.
Mr M Bowman
West Yorks

I feel that you should have begun and ended the programme by declaring it a party election broadcast on behalf of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Maybe next time you'll be more balanced in the middle of a General Election

Colm Gallagher, Croydon
Your programme was about Labour's 1997 promises yet you allowed very little time to accept that many have been achieved. For example, you focussed too much on the 'failures' of the government and used 'rallying calls' from Blair as evidence of promises. This was a joke since any sensible person knows that when speaking you do so to your intended audience. Why did you edit images and responses from the Conservative politician? You should have shown his responses in full for a more balanced approach. Quite frankly your programme was pure propaganda and I don't even support Labour. Maybe next time you'll be more balanced in the middle of a General Election. A disgraceful programme.
Colm Gallagher

An excellent programme on the effects of Labour. Possibly you could do your next one in the series about how new labour are following the tactics of Stalin and gagging any press that does not suit them.
Keith Wood
Frankfurt, Germany

I would have preferred that Panorama had shown this programme two weeks ago. But that would have had President Blair's sycophants foaming at the mouth. As it is, it appears that some of Panorama's viewers have done the usual Labour thing when someone dares to go against "our Tone". Yes that's right, the usual. I have over the years made a rational comment against the Labour party and/or Tony Blair, the reaction has always been the same, abuse and scorn, or "you must be a F------ Tory". I'm not. I just like to deal in facts, and as Panorama has shown on many occasions, they do to. Keep it up Panorama and John Ware. Maybe Jean the math teacher should read the article in the forum that shows how Labour do their sums. i.e.. 10+10+10=60. Thank You again Panorama
Derek Cochrane

A UK-wide programme ought to have focused on UK-wide issues. Education and health here are governed by the Scottish Parliament, so these are not UK-wide issues for the purposes of the coming election.
Colin Wilson

It was stated on the programme that the fall in the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools, which has occurred under Labour, would have happened in any case, because of the fall in the number of pupils. This is incorrect.

Under Labour the trend of an increasing pupil-teacher ratio has been reversed, both in primary and secondary schools

Kenneth Smith, Cambridge
For schools in England, the official DfEE figures show that the number of teachers increased from 182,442 to 185,482, an increase of 3040, while the number of pupils fell from 4,271,131 to 4,251,268, a fall of 19,863. On these figures the pupil-teacher ratio fell from 23.4 to 22.9. If the number of pupils had remained unchanged from the 1997 figure, then the pupil-teacher ratio would have been 23.0. Clearly, the fall in the ratio has been brought about mainly because of the increase in the number of teachers, not the fall in the number of pupils. Incidentally, fulfilment of the manifesto commitment to reduce class sizes for 5-7 year olds necessitated a substantial building programme as well as a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio. The important point in all this, which the programme failed to bring out, was that under Labour the trend of an increasing pupil-teacher ratio has been reversed, both in primary and secondary schools. Under the Conservatives the pupil-teacher ratio increased every year from 1988 onwards. The only reason that Andrew Lansley, the Conservative spokesman, was able to say that the pupil-teacher ratio was lower in their term of office than at present was because of the huge fall in the number of pupils that occurred after 1979. During their 18 years in government, the total number of teachers employed (primary and secondary combined) fell by 59,732, and the pupil-teacher ratio rose from 19.6 to 20.1.
Kenneth CA Smith

Can a programme be made about whether public service broadcasting should continue against the background of the crisis in public sector funding so eloquently put in Sunday nights Panorama? 1+ per year into public services rather than the licence fee would be a very popular policy.
Keiron Dunn

This programme was appallingly one sided and biased against Labour. It was betrayal of the trust licence payers are entitled to place in the BBC to be impartial. I for one will never trust you again.

I, and the rest of the country, have been led, by the sleaze and spin of the Tory right wing press and now the "independent" Billy Bandwagon's Cooperation, to believe, on the back of "triple accountancy " from a previous programme that Mr Blair has been telling lies. I did not plan to watch Panorama, but I am absolutely "made up", I did. It has now convinced me that all along Mr Blair has been telling the truth, and that the LIES and SPIN has been emanating from the Tory sympathises. All the figures quoted on the Panorama programme, must now be considered flawed, and corrupt, and the contents wholly questionable. Mr Gale as regards taxing the Top 5%, more, you will find since the tax year 1996-97 the tax liability of the Top 5% has increased by 2% from 37% to 39%. Based on the projected Tax revenue for 2000-01, this increases their liability from 27.3 billion, to 37.8 an increase of 10.5 billion , in the same time, the lower 50% taxpayer's percentage liability has decreased 1% from 12% to 11% - they now pay 10.7 billion. I have been led to believe that the Conservatives are the "party of business", no wonder so many went bankrupt in the 80s/90s, with such bad accountancy, and no wonder the country finished up in such a mess after the Tories 18 years. I suggest they should all attend one of Mr Blunkett's numeracy classes, speaks well for private education. Well done Tony, another term, I hope.
F Marsden

Congratulations on the programme. One reads that the Labour party are 'furious' about its content in the run up to Thursday. In my view it should be worrisome for all political parties, dealing as it did with 'the truth'.

No wonder the electorate becomes ever more disillusioned

K Taylor, London
The double standards used by politicians are a disgrace. If the accounting used by the Labour party as exposed, was used by anyone in business, they would quite rightly, either go to prison for deception or misrepresentation, or go broke. A prospectus promising to spend extra money on certain aspects of UK plc that resulted in spending less, despite claiming to the contrary would just be downright fraud, followed by an even longer jail sentence. In addition it was refreshing to hear what we are really arguing about, namely, who spends the extra 1% of gpd covered by the various claims. If this is the real value added supplied by all this hot air, no wonder the electorate becomes ever more disillusioned.
K Taylor

Appalling and anti-government at a time of a general election. The BBC is pandering the whims of its producer whose main aim seems to stray from the truth for his own personal gratification and gain as much publicity for himself. This was very noticeable by the amount of time he was in front of the camera. The BBC should be very aware of its lack of balance during this election - this programme did nothing to dispel that perception
Roger Skinner

I was appalled at last night's hatchet job on the Labour govt in the week of a general election. Aside from the statistics (which can be interpreted any way one likes) the Labour govt has reason to be proud of WFTC, min wage and New Deal - need I go on? (in only 4 yrs). Rome wasn't built in a day & the Tories had 18 yrs to reduce it to ashes! I am a classroom assistant - not f/t or permanent but working. Our schools are crying out for extra help. Carry on Tony - some of us still have faith that you can do better than Vague Hague et al.
G. Harrod

I wish to complain about the programme last night about the Labour Party. I am not a Labour Party voter but I still think it was appallingly biased. Everything about it put a negative slant on the present government without any single item of positive content at all. This is highly undemocratic use of television and is in effect a party political broadcast on behalf of the Tories. Is the BBC (Panorama) going to show a highly critical programme about the Tory Party or the Lib Dems between now and polling day - I doubt it? And that is what makes it undemocratic. TV should not be used as judge and jury about any issue and certainly not if it is going to effect the outcome of a General Election. The BBC should be impartial - it should not show a particular bias to any of the political parties. My view of the BBC has been badly damaged this evening.
Andrew Godfrey

Let's just try and nail this triple counting to the floor for those who don't get it. If I spend 10 on fish fingers in 1997 and then the wicked supermarket puts the price up by 3 a year for three years so I spent 19 a year on them in year 2000. Most people would say my spending on fish fingers increased by 9 over the last 3 years. Labour's spin would say it had increased by 18. 3 + 6 + 9
V Burnett

Your correspondent C Gawthrop should vote Labour. By their arithmetic the 1 saved per year would total 15 after 5 years by cumulatively totalising each years total.
Brian Singleton
Peak District

I was amazed to see such an overtly politically biased programme on television so shortly before the general election

Heather Lawrence, Peterborough
I watched some - and only some as I eventually turned off in disgust - of 'The Labour years'. I was amazed to see such an overtly politically biased programme on television so shortly before the general election - Where was the political balance? To be honest I don't think the Conservative party would have been able to write themselves such an effective political broadcast. As I said, I eventually turned off in anger at such flagrant bias - and then saw to my dismay, that you are repeating the programme - on the day before the general election. I am really disappointed in a station such as the BBC demonstrating such poor judgement.
Heather Lawrence

I have always trusted the BBC to present a fair and balanced debate, but to deliberately omit important statistics, previously quoted on other BBC programmes such as Today or Five Live leaves me staggered; for example, Five Live stated last week that there are now more teachers employed since 1984, yet Panorama deliberately overlooked this. For balance, I am looking forward to Panorama's programme analysing the last administration's 18 years in tenure - but I guess this would not happen 4 days before an election!
Nigel Meacham

I do not accept the King's Fund interpretation of the Government's figures. Taking an hypothetical service which cost 100m in 1997, if 10m were put in in each of the following years the following would result:- 1998 110m, 1999 120m and 2000 130. This means that if the figure of 100m in 1997 had been maintained for the three years the total expenditure would have been 300m But in fact the total was 360m. Thus there was a total increase over the three years of 60m. The Kings Fund would have said 30m which is incorrect.
Richard Savinson

You asserted that New Labour had managed to reduce the long-term unemployed by two-thirds - WRONG! All that New Labour have done is to re-classify those as long-term unemployed, by increasing the signing-on period to more than eighteen months. The threshold was previously set at SIX months unemployed. It doesn't take a child to realise that if you increase the threshold from six to eighteen months, the number of long-term unemployed magically reduces by two-thirds, without one new single job having been created! Secondly, on health. New Labour have broken all their promises on Health up here in Scotland, in a desperate attempt to bolster their failing promises in England. This was recognised by the Scottish Parliament, currently controlled jointly by Labour & the Lib-Dems. I noted that you flagged-up the failing Health figures for Wales; why not the even more damming figures for Scotland?
Adrian Carter.

If a political party tells you before an election that they will save 10 million per year for the next five years then they will save 50 million over the parliament. According to Panorama after the five years when you look back at how much they saved it was only 10 million because you only count the first year of saving. I'm glad my bank doesn't use the same method of counting as Panorama. Political parties are in power for a parliament not a year and the savings should be calculated over that period.
Barry Poole

It would be an interesting exercise if someone were to work out the cost to the country of all Asylum seekers, without being given the tag of 'racist'. Perhaps some of this money could be diverted to our ailing NHS. I am appalled at how much the Government has deliberately misguided the electorate regarding the NHS figures, as was discovered by the Panorama team.
June Dewin

Please, please, please get the BBC to repeat this programme before Thursday

Debbie Bray, St Neots
At last, the first informative programme I have seen during this election campaign. How refreshing that it actually dealt with real (and not misleading) facts and figures relating to the current government's performance (and how it compares to previous and future promises). Please, please, please get the BBC to repeat this programme before Thursday!!??
Mrs Debbie Bray
St Neots

A penetrating programme that gave both sides of the story. Can the BBC please investigate Ken Livingstone's claims on whether his congestion charge will secure noticeably better public transport in London. Or whether, as the cross-party GLA Scrutiny Panel questioned, it is likely to be a massive flop at the expense of ordinary people's money?
Andrew Bentley

I find it amazing that John Ware finds it so repugnant that the Government is clearly interested in winning votes in the way it presents and releases information. Does he somehow think that we can't see that Panorama was put together in order to win the most VIEWERS possible? I tuned in hoping for a balanced, informed and better than average examination of the Labour Party's record in this field. Instead I got a man who is clearly partisan (though I couldn't tell whether he was Tory or Old Labour interestingly) just making yet another 'we the media as opposition' contribution. Oh well back to The Economist I guess, I expected more from the BBC flagship.
Paul Barrow (Floating Viewer)

I found last night's Panorama programme very disappointing. For the BBC to produce an extended Conservative party promotional broadcast, paid for by the British tax payer was irresponsible and extremely bad 'journalism'.

I am deeply disappointed in the supposedly politically neutral BBC

Paul Cartwright, Leeds
While Labour party politics were dissected and their spokesmen rudely interviewed the opposition spokesmen got to speak freely without the interruptions and what appeared to be selective editing subjected to those of the Labour party. The programme breached the BBC guidelines by giving an unbalanced view of politics today by criticising Labour and showing the Conservatives as the only party who can lead the public sector effectively. This, to anyone who has read the party manifestos and seen the news coverage over the past week is clearly inaccurate. It is a shame that the BBC chose to be selective about this information and present a programme which showed more support for the Conservatives than is currently displayed in the Daily Mail. I am deeply disappointed in the supposedly politically neutral BBC and the producers of the Panorama programme. I only hope that others could see the programme as the propaganda that it was.
Paul Cartwright

As a senior nurse at an East London Hospital I am disturbed by the overly negative portrayal of the current government's record regarding the NHS. There are very real differences, particularly I notice it in the area of lung cancer care and chest pain. Because of new monies we are diagnosing much faster, therefore real improvements for patients have been made. The NHS is a huge beast which will take time to recover from Nurse and Doctor training place cuts under the Conservative government. Please in future highlight my and my colleagues achievements, the improving quality and determination that we have whatever colour of government. As for the public demanding a quality service, hey, wake up people, you want something, YOU'VE got to pay for it. Perhaps the bigger issue for the next government (and all have skirted this so far) is to make the public aware that they have to chose what sort of health service they are prepared to pay for. The best does cost. A heavily biased programme at the wrong time. You have obviously confused some viewers regarding how year on year increases in budget are calculated. Perfect Daily Mail TV.
Andrew Williams

Why was this programme scheduled so close to the election. Fair enough slag off all the political parties but to concentrate almost completely on Labour for at least the first 25 mins (I turned off in disgust at this point) was ridiculous. It was the equivalent of a half hour Party election broadcast for the Conservatives and Lib Dems. I always thought the BBC had a reputation for fairness and impartiality. This programme was far from impartial. Not impressed. In fact very disappointed.

This was a pretty timely piece of TV journalism. Labour luvvies... stop criticizing! Remember Mrs Thatcher's attacks on the 'leftie' BBC? What the programme didn't really bring out was the desperation felt by many NHS staff, who despite recruitment drives are leaving in their thousands. Some measure of the depth of feeling can be seen on the site. When GPs and hospital doctors have opted out, who will be left? A Chief exec or two, no doubt.
N Barnes

The BBC is not the Opposition, however ineffective the party that holds that position

Peter Jones, Burton
It is the duty of the BBC to be impartial; overall it is, as evidenced by the obvious impression on all sides that it is biased against them. The BBC also has a duty to analyse the policies and 'achievements' of the government of the day. However, during an election campaign impartiality should be paramount and investigations predicated on the proposed party policies. The BBC is not the Opposition, however ineffective the party that holds that position. As for the Panorama programme, it is evident that introduction of the numeracy hour into the BBC should not be delayed any further.
Peter Jones

Like Andrew Dilnot's programme on Channel 4 on Saturday, this programme tended to suggest the narrowness of debate between the main parties. Although it was limited in scope, I think this is a generally fair conclusion. It's a shame then that it did not give some attention to the minor parties which have different policies on these questions and others - the Greens, Socialist Alliance, Scottish Socialist Party and Plaid Cymru - which are challenging in a large proportion of the seats. Minorities are often challenged to put our views to the electoral test. It hardly makes for electoral fairness when we can't be heard.
Paul Hubert

A government in a country with a one party state would have tried to bully you into not transmitting your excellent programme. Thank goodness we live a democracy where spin can be unspun.
Paul Smith
Newcastle upon Tyne

Seriously, M Cox of Oxford, I would love to be wrong about the Tory created under class and the suffering that prevailed in the eighties, and still exists today with one in four children living in poverty, and I wish I could quell the utter loathing I feel when I think of the Tory years in power. What do you feel is the root of the problem then? Maybe it's because since the technological revolution, the poor now know exactly what they are missing.
Melanie Drees

I strongly object to my licence fee funding this blatant piece of Conservative Party propaganda. Labour policy was presented always with a hostile analysis whilst Tory proposals were subject only to the scrutiny of their own spokesman. There was absolutely no attempt at balance. The fact that badly made programme is to be screened again on eve of poll is an affront to democracy and further evidence of the puerile depths to which the BBC and their failing ratings have sunk.
I Palmer

I think John Ware's analysis of the Labour Government was biased and inappropriately shown by the BBC this close to a general election.
Dr Liz Jupp

So many people have failed to exercise any degree of critical judgement on the views expressed in your programme

J Muirie, Scotland
I felt that your programme did not provide a balanced view of Labour's changes and that it failed to recognise the dramatic shifts in strategy and in thinking that have occurred since Labour came to power. Have you forgotten where we were just four years ago? - resistance by Government to acknowledge the shameful inequalities between the richest and the poorest in our society, the NHS wasting valuable resources to compete internally against itself, a lack of coherence between policies and between publicly accountable organisations. If we are serious about reforming our public services, in ensuring that, for example, health and social services provide timely, appropriate and linked services, they must be able to collaborate effectively and this requires efficient, skilled management. I do not understand why this receives such immense criticism. I am sorry to read in other comments submitted on this programme, that so many people have failed to exercise any degree of critical judgement on the views expressed in your programme.
J Muirie

Simon Morley misses the point slightly. I felt that the programme WAS well balanced showing, as it did, the failures of the present Government to live up to its promises while saying what the other main parties would do if elected. How could John Ware go into as much depth about the Conservative or Liberal plans as they were not 'real' merely ideas. I'm sure he will do a similar expose on whoever gets in this time!
Aidan Gill

After years of accusing the Beeb of left-wing bias, I must admit that Auntie is now clearly even-handed. As for Melanie Drees`s comment that "Crime is caused by an uneducated under class living in poverty", the standard of living and education today is far, far superior to what it was in my grandparents` time - and they could leave their front door open while sitting in their back garden with no fear of burglary.
M. Cox

Last evening's Panorama disinformation was a disgrace. A deliberate confusion between on the one hand annual reduction year on year and on the other cumulative savings over a period of time. Labour makes a statement concerning savings over a parliament. Panorama retorts concerning year on year reductions. Clearly deliberate disinformation. Quite disgraceful! A reduction of 1 week on week over 4 weeks of an identical shopping basket, provides me with a price reduction of 4. It provides me with a saving of 10 over the period in question. The BBC should clarify this point immediately.
John Beak