The most successful society...
Toynbee's article is named "The most successful society the world has ever known" and basically she makes three points:
1) Sweden is a great country with a successful social democratic government, and the reasom the right is ahead in the polls is thanks to the "most lethal human instinct - boredom". But she warns Swedes for replacing their government "with something deliberatly ill-defined on the right, just for the sake of a fresh face". Naturally, I think she is right.
2) Most of the privatizations made in Sweden were done in the years 1991-1994 during the Conservative government. Therefore Tony Blair is wrong when he says that even Swedish social democrats are privatizing, Toynbee means. I think that Toynbee is basically right, even if this is somewhat more complicated. No, I am no big fan of privatizations when it means putting parts of the public sector in the hands of companies. The public sector should be public and financed by money collected by taxes. But in the public sector we must try different alternatives and models in order to make sure that the tax money is used in the most efficient way, and this can be done without privatizing (for example) hospitals. These alternatives and new models must also be monitored and evaluated carefully.
3) Swedes (and the social democratic party) seem to lack-confidence, “intimidated by global neocon warnings”, Toynbee writes. She makes a comparison with Labour’s third term and says “when the left loses its optimism, it risks losing office”. Therefore, Toynbee concludes, it is good that young Labour ministers are keeping in touch with Göran Persson’s government: “Good governments can fall if they lose progressive, forward trajectory. The social democrats say they will regain self-confidence and win. Labour, too, needs to guard against spreading more fear than hope.” This is a point I have been making over and over again, and I would like to remind one and all that when Godon Brown came to Sweden/Gotland last summer a working group between Labour and the SAP was announced. What is happening with that? I hope that these two parties will get strength from each other, win many more elections, and develop an equal, efficient, social model based on the Swedish welfare state. That is something we could all rally around, Hallelujah!