A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brown enthuses about public services reform

Interesting ... I'm sat listening to Gordon Brown at the Progress conference at the TUC. He's just said that public services reform - specifically personalisation and greater empowerment of service users - is a key priority for him and will be a major feature in the Queen's Speech. This is ideologically highly significant as in the past Brown has been portrayed as not enthused about the public service reform agenda. Those commentators who tried to portray the PBR as the "death of New Labour" seem to have got it badly wrong.


Blogger Merseymike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:47 pm, November 29, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Neither of those things have very much appeal, though - the obsession with 'choice' has always been a major mistake.

Who needs choice if local services are well funded and competent? The choice agenda suggests this is not the case, and sets the stage for future privatisations.

Its noticeable that when Labour start to abandon some of its 'newness' they begin to recover in the polls....

Mind you, got to keep the drones of 'Progress' happy....they're just so yesterday

2:48 pm, November 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tories 15% ahead - ICM Guardian poll.

Isn't the time for denial past?

3:15 pm, November 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown speaks at Progress conference, Brown mentions stuff in his speech he guesses Progress people will like. Dhrrr

3:20 pm, November 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be a better use of your time, and altogether more convenient, to take yourself down to Abney Park cemetery and commune with the spirits?

Much better than trying to make sense of a head-dead corpse.

4:11 pm, November 29, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Choice is good if you make sure all services are funded equally. We all know that is not the case, take schools for example.

Many schools now face the dilemma of selection whereas others now battle with funding because they have too many poor performing pupils and others face closure because they don't have enough pupils.

4:25 pm, November 29, 2008

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

"personalisation and greater empowerment of service users"

What does this actually mean? We hear these fatuous buzzwords thrown about willy nilly, but what does "empowerment" - a word so overused as to have become emptied of meaning - actually, practically entail?

Practical, explainable examples would be useful

7:21 pm, November 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"personalisation and greater empowerment of service users"

E10 Rifle is correct. These are indeed fatuous buzzwords, particularly in an environment where cuts to services are so great and transparency (in particular, transparency in the workings of local and national government) is nothing better than "going through the motions" and "just showing face".

But please don't ask our politicians to tell the truth: it upsets them so!

7:09 am, November 30, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

The P-S-R is very ambiguous and may just end up being another back door open for privatisation in the form of more incompetent PFI's.

The PBR was more cosmetic, OK increasing tax on above £150,000 earners is a good concession, but these high earners will find loopholes in the tax system and will still maintain their low taxation levels.

The borrowed money to prop up the Rich with is going to be paid by the overstretched working classes. The government should have gone 1948 style budget for a mixed economy Nationalising all public services, industries and the banks/financial institutions! That would have really been money well spent and could have created many jobs. More money should be printed rather than borrowed!

10:42 am, November 30, 2008

Anonymous Alexander said...

Have you actually looked at the PBR Luke? Because if so you really have been very selective. You claim to be New Labour to the very core so how can you possibly argue that the last week has been anything other than the beginning of a return to the 1970s by Labour.

You know as well as I do that a hell of a lot of the Labour Party never believed in Blair. They just went along with him whilst he could win them elections. Those times are now over and things are returning to normal.

Personally I think it will be great for the Tories. People made a decisive break with the past in 1979 and don't want to go back to those days. There will be clear blue water at the next election and I think the electorate will reject old Labour.

Unless you fight very hard Luke you're going to be a marginalised as Jeremy Corbyn was a few years ago as old Labour retakes contol of Labour.

Brown may still talk about choice, but nothing concrete will come of it. Actions speak louder then words and the PBR said it all.

You have my sympathy.

11:52 am, November 30, 2008

Anonymous James Thurston said...


You obviously display a total lack of understanding regarding the ideological tide sweeping the Globe.

Whilst it is correct for you to suggest that for Labour to return to pre-1979 politics/ policies would marginalise the Party, you fail to understand that Thatcherism - the Unbridled Capitalist model - that has beset and destroyed not only the UK, but the Developed World is also well and truly dead.

The Tories have nothing to say on the issue of the Credit Crunch other than to 'Carp' on the sidelines and ask - the cheek of it - to bail out, via underwriting, lending by Banks. The lending crisis being created by the very Banks themselves. After the huge amount of Public money that has been invested to Bail out these failing Banks, it is up to them to sort out their lending problems.

Banks no longer operate to a large degree in the interests of the Public, they only do so in their own interests.

Given the responses they have issued, the Tories have learned nothing, and are still deeply wedded to Thatcherism. In continuing to do so, although they may be riding high on the tide of anti-Labour sentiment now, they and their ideology are in the longer term dead in the water.

However, it is my belief that new Labour has done some great things since being in office such as establishing the Minimum Wage, creating Sure Start centres and much besides.

Having said that the Choice Agenda must and should be dropped. In reality it is a far too expensive initiative and is one which furthers the Privatisation of Public Services. A profound development for which I am astounded and totally horrified that a Labour - yes a LABOUR Government - is now implementing. Surely this is a Right Wing policy which even Thatcher dared not to even remotely entertain.

Make no mistake, I totally support the essential reforms of Labour that Tony Blair brought about and agreed with what he did when in office.

Nevertheless, Blair has gone from the frontline of British politics and it is high time for new Labour to formulate a Post-Blairite agenda not to go back to Labour of old. Essentially 'new new Labour' not 'old new Labour'.

Unless Labour does not develop a Post-Blairite policy agenda, for example ditching the 'Choice' and 'Privatisation' agenda and radically changes, it too will be dead in the water like the Tories.

I say to those senior figures in the Labour Party please take note, I like you wish to see the Party and the Country succeed not fail miserably.

1:09 pm, November 30, 2008

Anonymous Alexander said...

The blame for this crisis lies solely with Gordon Brown. This is a man who has done more than most to fundamentally destroy the fabric of the country.

It will take a generation to sort out the problems. His complete mismanagement of the economy for the last decade has destroyed a pension scheme that was second to none in the world, and saddled us with unparralled levels of debt.

The result will be that for the next 10 to 20 years there will be far less money floating around to be spent where and on whom it will be needed.

The poorest will suffer the most and there will be more of them because people's pensions will have been so badly degredated.

That's Brown and Blair's legacy.

6:43 pm, November 30, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I don't think we can sort these problems out...it is too late. Public services are now so linked with private investment that I can't really see how we can return them to public ownership. Recent events in Greece show how dangerous the relationship between private finance and health care can be.

Alexanda you are spot on with respect to pensions. Brown in particular has robbed pensions, he is now ranked as the worst PM for pensions in British history. The average person has lost up to 17 years in pension payments.

I would argue that 20 years isn't enough to repair the damage done by this government.

Labour better be prepared for a backlash. Once people realise that this has to be paid for and they are going to lose public services....I think we may see civil unrest.

7:27 pm, November 30, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

I know that the NLP is going out of direction.

But I fear things will become 10 times worse under the Tories.

I know that NLP have not been brilliant to the Unions, but then the Tories will do their best to break the Unions and put fear into the working classes. In the 1980's and early 90's it was horrible you
would go to work every day and see your work colleagues in total
apathy it was so depressing, they were taking so much crap everyday.
Now my colleagues are well educated in their employment rights and know about procedures and are confident about taking out grievances against nasty bosses and Union membership has shot up. There is still a long way to go though as these bosses are still trying to give us a hard time, but I sincerely believe education on employment laws has changed for the better under NLP.

12:30 am, December 01, 2008

Anonymous James Thurston said...

I think you will find that it is the greedy Financial system and NOT Gordon Brown that has saddled the Country with unparalleled levels of debt since it continuously encouraged and goaded the British people to take out unsecured loans, rediculously large mortgages and also fostered the climate and fear amongst its institutions regarding lending between each other which we now have.

The Government had no choice but to attempt to recapitalise the Banking System. Do you oppose this much needed move?

The present crisis is a legacy of MARGARET THATCHER and the CONSERVATIVE not Blair and Brown. It is them who entrenched and embedded the ethos of Far Reaching Light-Touch regulation, privatisation and an agressively greedy Financial Sector.

After all it is now the period that the Tory 'Chickens have Come Home to Roost'. The Unbridled Capitalist eggs that the Conservatives 'layed' from 1979 to 1997 have well and truly hatched.

It could well be argued that new Labour should have taken the opportunity presented, in Government to reverse the trend. However, the culture the Tories fostered was too far reaching.

Incidentally, the 'Broken Society' the Tories harp on about is another one of those 'eggs' that they 'layed' and which are now 'hatching'. Was it not them who advocated total self-interest and individualism? That sold off Council Housing resulting in the concentration of the poor in the worst housing estates? That let the City of London of its leash? That destroyed manufacturing and argued for a Service Based economy?

Yes Labour could have done more, but I know for a fact that I would much rather have a new Labour Government (warts and all) than a return to a Tory Government. Now that would be a real disaster.

Unlike some people I have a very long memory and am in no way fooled by the complete hypocracy and memory loss of the Conservative Party.

8:39 am, December 01, 2008

Anonymous Alexander said...

Brown's actually the one who split the regulation of the financial system in 1997. Check your facts.

11:10 am, December 01, 2008

Anonymous James Thurston said...


You obviously have not answered or argued against what I have stated.

Who was it that implemented the Privatisation reforms? Who sold off Council Houses? Said 'theres no such thing as society'?

I think you will find it was the Conservatives!

It appears that you need to brush up on your social economic and political history. It appears a tad rusty to say the least.

12:22 pm, December 01, 2008

Anonymous Alexander said...

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

I though I'd give you the full quote by Maggie as I know how found you guys are of selectively quoting from it.

Yes, we did allow people the chance to buy their own council homes - guilty as charged and proud of it.

The bank's were never nationalised and it was Brown who split the regulation three ways in 1997.

I await the next ill informed rant.

12:36 pm, December 01, 2008

Anonymous James Thurston said...


Unforetunately the quote you gave, by Margaret Thatcher sums up the cold hard nosed philosophy that characterises the Conservatives.

I agree that you must look to yourself. However, I view it as: 'you have to look after yourself in order to look after others'.

In my book that does not mean that I must buy my council house in my self interest and deny someone a home who may be homeless or poor who cannot afford a House on the private market. So that Councils are saddled with the poorest quality housing that becomes a ghetto for the poor, resulting in a greater burden on society both economically and in terms of its fabric.

I could go on...

Your comments here speak volumes and do nothing less than fully confirm and establish the very reason that I will never never ever vote Conservative.

In any case your posts appear to trot out the same Tory party 'line' with no new arguments.

In any case it is rather amusing to say the least witnessing Right-Wingers being totally contradictory and attacking their very own philosophy. Funny indeed!

Face it your ideology, if not your beloved Tory Party is in its Death Throws.

I await your next extremely short ill informed rant with anticipation!

2:35 pm, December 01, 2008

Anonymous Alexander said...

I rather think we'll win the next elextion - so much for a finished ideology.

Have a good evening and I hope to stay true to your principles - don't buy your own home.

9:33 pm, December 01, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

The LP needs more radical direction. Its time that the banks were fully Nationalised and the 30 Industries and monopolies that own and control control 80% of the wealth. Workers should have control of their workplaces by having workers management committees. There should be a 30 hour a week with no loss of pay, this in turn would reduce unemployment.

11:36 am, December 02, 2008

Anonymous James Thurston said...


It obviously appears that you are unable to grasp what I have argued.

Just because I dont want to remove a house from the Council Housing stock (from what you argue can it be said you would??) does not mean I will not buy a house on the Private Market. Indeed, I most certainly will when I can.

As for winning the next election: you may be likely to do so. However, David Cameron and the Conservatives have learned absolutely nothing. He and the Party (and you??) are still wedded to Thatcherism.

They are still obsessed with laissez-faire economics and the City of London. Is it not the case that the Tories are now largely funded by Big Business and Hedge Funds? The latter being accused of precipitating the current economic Crisis.

Will these supporters want some kind of payback?? Who knows.

In any case being sure of winning the next election means nothing.

Face it your ideology is in the longer term (remember I argued in the long term??) finished. The political tide will either force the Tories to adapt to a more gentle Centre-Left Capitalist model or it will become marginalised: both in winning political debate and electorally.

Your reply was a very short rant. Thanks for that. I said I was waiting in anticipation. Sadly I am disappointed in its strength of argument and overall content!!!

Have a few beers!!

6:12 pm, December 02, 2008


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