13 MAY 1989, Page 23


Labour takes the pooper-scooper to its economic policy . . .


Cats still elude the reformers of the Labour party, but dogs are caught. Labour has adopted a pooper scooper policy, and will make owners walk after their dogs, cleaning up. This intrudes on an area of public life hitherto the preserve of the Dog Lovers' Party, whose leader and sometime parliamentary candidate, Aube- ron Waugh, is no doubt preparing a manifesto of his own, but so far as dogs Impinge upon economic policy, I may be allowed to point out that Labour's approach has changed for the better. It is easy to imagine an earlier version. This would have run to dog wardens on the rates, enhanced powers and more re- sources for health inspectors, free veterin- ary services for pensioners, and (as Swift suggested to the Dublin authorities) an official scheme for calibrating the a Ppropriate orifices. Now public spending is out and personal responsibility is in. Whatever next? We find a policy whose boldest effort in egalitarianism is to pre- tend that the Department of Trade and Industry can be made equal to the Treas- _ury. (How many ministers, from Lord Young through George Brown to Stafford CrIpps, have dreamed of cutting the Treas- ury down to size! How irremediably the DTI remains below the salt!) From this will flow an industrial strategy, investment grants, winner-picking, a British Invest- ment Bank . . . . We have been here before, too. It all proved powerless against the long decline of British industry's earn- ing power, but now that decline has been reversed by other means, and perhaps the °PPonents were wrongly matched.