Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Well Darling.........................

Alistair Darling. Hmmmm, is that a contradiction in terms? I must confess I haven't yet read all 286 pages of his CSR, but what I have seen already hasn't really convinced me that it does what it says on the tin, namely "meet the aspirations of the British people". How I wish the document we got sight of today hadn't been disinfected. What fun if we had been able to track the changes!

So, lots of gimmicks, little long term thinking. I share a theory, you may know it.........the wise man built his house on a rock...........the foolish on the sand. One of my biggest criticisms of the way this government develops its policy is that it neglects to see the value of foundations, its all about packaging and short term gain. A few years ago the Connexions service was established. As chair of Unison's Youth and Community Workers Forum at the time I was very involved in the consultations about the service and the development of "personal advisers". On one memorable occasion I shared a platform with Malcolm Wicks where he took umbrage at my metaphor for Connexions (his baby). What I saw was that they had two perfectly good houses with solid foundations (the existing Youth Service and Careers), OK there were a few broken windows, the walls could do with a lick of paint and maybe the roof needed replacing. What did they do? They abandoned the existing buildings and built a brand spanking new orange and purple portakabin........no foundations and likely to be pulled down in a few years. Was I right? Has Connexions been taken back into local authority control? And all the time, those of us who tried to soldier on in a Youth Service that had continued to face cuts even under Labour, saw our cuddly cousins in Connexions squandering the resources that could have enabled us to provide important services to our young people. In the service I used to manage, once I had met all my staffing and revenue bills, I had £2,000 a year left to spend on young people! Sorry, I am still bitter. But what happened with Connexions happens time and time again. Peter is robbed to pay Paul as the focus group gaze drifts from this to that. So today it is cuts in inheritance tax, screening for MRSA, doctors open at weekends. Tomorrow it will be????

Yet again no real investment in Youth Service, billions to the Health Service, but no mention of dealing with mixed wards (particularly in psychiatric units), but plenty of money for Trident and reserves to ensure we can attack Iran if Mr Bush tells us to. OK those are some of my personal issues and I am sure there are some good bits..........I'll let you know if I find them.

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