Friday, January 11, 2008

I [heart] 1975

We all know that Gordon Brown has moved somewhat rightwards since the 1970s (along with a lot of the Labour Party – and, for that matter, a lot of the Tory Party).

Susan Press quotes part of his 1975 ‘Red Paper’: there’s “The market can no longer be seen as the efficient allocator of resources”, “the private control of industry has become a hindrance to the further unfolding of the social forces of production”, and of course the S-word is everywhere.

(He’s not lost his knack for turning a catchy phrase!)

One idly curious thing:

If the prospects for the least fortunate are to be as great as they can be, then they must have the final say – and that requires a massive and irreversible shift of power to working people, a framework of free universal welfare services controlled by the people who use them.

Doesn’t that last bit sound pretty contemporary? More recently, Brown has talked about responding to:

people's desire for an individual, often personalised tailor-made service that is customised to meet their needs and their requirements…
…we should think about how we can empower the aspirational individual, the active citizen, the responsible parent, the informed patient who will take more control over the decisions that affect their lives…

Ditto, as if you didn’t know, the Tories and Lib Dems. User control over public services is all the vogue nowadays (rhetorically, at least).

Plus ca change, plus c’est les values traditionelles dans une setting moderne…

Brown also said (back then) that:

the transition to socialism must be made by the majority of people themselves and a socialist society must be created within the womb of existing society and prefigured in the movements for democracy at the grass roots

Because, you see, society’s not the same thing as the state.


anticant said...

Fine words butter no parsnips! As a reluctant user of council social service home care during three years [so far] of chronic illness, I have found a wide divergence between what is offered and what actually happens. Endless "assessment" interviews with charming ladies of half my age and less than half my social work experience who assure me of their desire to satisfy my every need have been followed by a procession of mostly pisspoor 'carers' who have obviously had little if any training and often lack any motivation to do more than the minimum they can get away with. Their timekeeping is abysmal, which needless to say they blame on the state of public transport.

This poor quality is not entirely their fault, as they are mostly supplied by private agencies to whom the work has been contracted out on a lowest tender basis, and who pay the minimum wage [or less, if they can get away with it].

Gordon Brown's rosy pie in-the-sky visions of tailor-made individual services will have to be backed up with a massive and professionally efficient recruitment and training programme if it is to be anything more than empty hot air - the politician's stock-in-trade, alas.

Tom Freeman said...

That sounds horrendous.

Even thougb politicians love to spout warm words, they avoid even verbally dealing with the state of social care. Especially for older people.

It's deeply depressing. And I don't understand it - there's a well-known correlation between age and likelihood to vote. OK, it's an unglamorous issue but it's one people care about.

But no: everone averts their eyes and you get stuck with monkeys paid peanuts. That's shit.

anticant said...

It's just spin, Tom. Once these people - in all parties, with honourable exceptions in each - get into the national and local political rat race with its endemic cronyism, they end up believing that saying something is as good as doing it. All that matters is the warm glow of fantasy policy-speak. After all, this is what characterised the Blair years, isn't it, and Brown seems increasingly unlikely to do any better. I wish I knew what the answer was.