Not in Kansas

A couple of things I read today brought home the intellectual upheaval that is going on in Whitehall.

Matthew Taylor says of a visit he received from some of the government’s advisors:

The fascinating starting point for last week’s conversation was the statement by one of the advisors that Whitehall civil servants have been cast adrift as a result of the effective abolition of outcome targets. The public service agreements which provided the core rationale for thousands of Whitehall jobs have been swept away, and many other regimes focussed on achieving measurable results – such as the local authority comprehensive performance assessment – have also gone. In time we are likely to see a major downsizing of Whitehall itself but in the meantime, the advisors asked, what are the officials to do?

Paul Corrigan argues:

The straightforward clue to this philosophy is in the title ‘Liberating the NHS’. This Government believes that the state in general, and ‘NHS bosses’ in particular, are stifling people and stopping a considerable upsurge in clinical led activity and entrepreneurialism. Therefore, it reasons, in order to unlock all this activity the main action a Government needs to take is to withdraw the state from as many places as possible.

Finally in case you thought this is just the views of former Labour SPADS, here’s Eric Pickles, the irresponsible dad of the coalition, talking to the LGA:

‘Total Place’ may have been a step in the right direction, but it was the smallest, most begrudging step possible. Loosening the leash a tiny bit rather than just simply letting you off it.

It was a bit like local government was a fifteen year old girl with really strict parents.

They let you go down the dance for the first time.

But then totally cramped your style by parking round the corner to watch what you were up to and made you go home at half past nine.

Not so much ‘total place’. More like ‘know your place’.

I don’t want to be the Dad hanging round the corner. You can get yourselves down the dance. You can stay out all night if you want. Let your hair down – before it all goes like mine.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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