The debate continues
Respect is due to John Woodcock MP who has taken time out from his holiday to pen a characteristically well-argued response to my post about public service reform - http://www.progressives.org.uk/articles/article.asp?a=6564
My own post is being re-tweeted in a rather alarming fashion. To misquote Mrs Gaitskell's remark to Hugh when he made his anti-Common Market speech ("all the wrong people are cheering") "all the wrong people are tweeting".
As I've rather misguidedly picked a debate on policy with one of Labour's brightest new MPs on an issue he passionately cares about; and I can't resort to a traditional Akehurst rant as he's one of my allies, not least on the issue of the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent, the subs for which get built in his seat; and I'm also about to go on holiday I will be thinking carefully about my response whilst on the beach down in St Ives.
Just to put a marker down though some of the things I'm going to throw in will be:
- the function of public services particularly schools as community hubs and motors of community cohesion, and how this is undermined by "choice"
- why school governing bodies aren't "producers" - they include parent governors (consumers) and LEA governors (representatives of consumers)
- the role of local government in driving improved services and in making services democratically accountable to the whole electorate
- why the whole language of producer vs consumer is inappropriate to public services (public sector workers all use public services themselves), alienating to some of Labour's strongest supporters, and insulting to their professionalism and sense of public service
- why geography - lack of land to expand popular urban institutions, distance between schools and hospitals in rural areas - makes choice impractical in many cases
- why "genuine community ownership" has always existed through democratically elected local authorities
- what a good LEA does - support schools - and why the concept of freeing schools from LEAs is bizarre, undermines local democracy and increases the risk of failing schools
- why schools belong to the whole community they serve, not just the immediate generation of parents