Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Thatcher Mk2

Francis Maude MP has an interview in the Guardian in which he says some interesting things, among which is this quote;
".... one of the things that Lady Thatcher regretted was not pushing ahead vigorously enough, and quickly enough, in terms of reform......Similarly, the Blair government did not just waste its first 100 days, it wasted its first five years. By contrast, we have prepared very carefully. This was work that I was leading in opposition....Clearly, we had thought a lot more about how we would do it, so we were well equipped to hit the ground running."
 So all the stuff about the economic situation being much worse than they had anticipated and therefore the need for much more draconian cuts is pure fiction. According to Maude, the Tories had..
"...prepared very carefully.." and "...were well equipped to hit the ground running...".
In other words, the cuts were well prepared before the election, they are idealogically driven and they had been planned in some detail (by the Tories at least) before they saw the books.

And it explains why the Tories are rushing through so many bills in such a hurry: they think that, with the election over and the summer holidays in full swing, the public is  not looking, and that their more radical policies can be slid under the radar before people start taking an interest in politics again.

The corollary of this is that policies which are rushed through without sufficient Parliamentary scrutiny frequently end up poorly drafted and ineffective. The mess that Michael Grove has made of the Education reforms is evidence that this might be happening now. And the plans to give GPs control of NHS budgets seems to be set fair for a repeat. 

Maude also denies that the radical NHS changes, including abandoning primary care trusts and giving Health budgets to local GPs, should have caught the electorate by surprise. 
"There had been a lot of work thinking through the health reforms, such as GP commissioning. It was all there. People should have read the words in the manifesto."
But a quick glance at the Health section of the Tory Manifesto shows that no such policy was spelled out in that document.

Maude was a minister in the Thatcher administration and he clearly has ambitions to implement many of the Thatcherite policies that the lady failed to enact. Among these is the privatisation of Education and Health.

These aims are alarming enough in themselves, and the fact that they were never in any manifesto is a scandal. But the greatest danger is that the haste with which they are being rammed through will mean the worst of all worlds, with badly drafted and poorly scrutinised attempts at privatisation failing in the midst of a double dip recession, with chaos in service delivery and the resultant public unrest....

Welcome, children, to the 1980s .......

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