Did the Labour government improve people's lives? Are we healthier, wealthier or wiser; happier or safer than in 1997, when Labour came to power? If we are, how much do w have to thank Blair and Brown and their cabinets for? In The Verdict, Polly Toynbee and David Walker strip away spin, personality and political rhetoric to judge how our lives have changed. They consider Labour's lasting legacy and what its successors can learn from Labour's performance. Travelling the country, Toynbee and Walker compare Labour's promises with people's own accounts of what they experienced in recent years. They drop in on a Sure Start centre and visit schools, hospitals and colleges - and estates plagued by disorder - to ask: what different did Labour make? Combining sharp, witty writing, human stories and expert analysis, The Verdict charts Labour's often bewildering array of initiatives, projects and schemes. It questions how many depended on bubble finance and how many will be missed as recent public spending cuts take hold. From the early optimism of 'Things can only get better' to the misery of the financial crisis, Toynbee and Walker hand down the definitive judgement on Labour's record.
POLLY TOYNBEE & DAVID WALKER have co-authored Unjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today, as well as audits of Labour's first and second terms: Did Things Get Better? and Better or Worse, Did Labour Deliver? POLLY TOYNBEE is an author and a political and social commentator for the Guardian. DAVID WALKER was founding editor of Public magazine.