LibLink | Reforming public services puts power with the people – Alexander and Letwin

After Nick Clegg’s HuffPo debut yesterday, Danny Alexander has co-written a piece with the Conservatives’ Oliver Letwin on the Government’s Open Public Services White Paper:

Our society is blighted by the persistent failure to extend equal opportunity, dignity and worth to all. Inequalities in access to good schools, high quality healthcare, safe places to play, culture, sporting opportunities, decent homes and so much more leave our society less free, less fair and less united.

In order to ensure that every citizen is given the opportunities they deserve this Coalition Government has already moved quickly to lower taxes for the poorest, reform welfare and make work pay. We want economic opportunity to be more widespread than ever before.

But these changes which will help generate more wealth, and see it spread more fairly, are only part of our mission to make opportunity more equal.

We are also reforming our public services. Because it is only by tackling the unfairnesses and inefficiencies which still exist in the public sector that we can play fair by all.

All of us rely on good public services to lead civilized lives in a cohesive nation. The NHS is a universal service, and must always remain so. The promise of care based on need not ability to pay is inviolable. The state of our immediate environment profoundly influences the quality of all our lives.

But while we all have a shared interest in the best possible public services we know that the poorer we, or our neighbours are, the more we rely on the State and its agencies. Those who live in our most disadvantaged communities rely most critically on the NHS and need most urgently to see public health improve. Our poorest children depend most powerfully on high quality childcare, good pre-school provision and excellent teaching to flourish in later life.

Those in our most economically-impoverished neighbourhoods rely most on decent provision of sporting facilities, parks and greenery close at hand to lead fuller lives.

And at the moment they are often let down. So reform of public services is a key progressive cause. The better our public services, the more we are helping those most in need. That is why those who resist reform, put the producer interest before the citizens’ needs, and object to publishing information about how services perform are conspiring to keep our society less free, less fair and less united.

Read on, at Huffington Post UK.

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10 Comments

  • Strange, I can’t remember this being discussed during the election campaign.

    Well, here’s hoping that my children don’t end up in the failing schools or that I don’t end up in one of the failing care homes.

  • “But while we all have a shared interest in the best possible public services we know that the poorer we, or our neighbours are, the more we rely on the State and its agencies. Those who live in our most disadvantaged communities rely most critically on the NHS and need most urgently to see public health improve. Our poorest children depend most powerfully on high quality childcare, good pre-school provision and excellent teaching to flourish in later life.”

    So, you’re designing a system that deliberately incorporates failure as a mechanism to spur forward efficiency and you think those that benefit most are going to be those who most rely on public services. La la land ideology.

    “So reform of public services is a key progressive cause”

    Ah, I see they’re ‘progressive’ in the same way that fiscally regressive VAT and tuition fees are ‘progressive’.

  • More privatisation. Great. I’m sure these companies will all be 100% accountable through the FOI act, right? And they certainly won’t put profits before people (sorry, “customers”) like the care homes which have recently been in the news. I am certain private prison companies will not bribe judges for harsher sentences and more prisoners like they did in the US. The private companies who will run welfare services for the disabled – I bet they don’t do their utmost to deny benefits to even the most disabled or sick – just like they did in the US as well.

    You see where this is going. Why is there such an obsession to make a profit out of everything? Why do we have to be forced into having more “choice” when most of us just want our local hospital to be brilliant? Will we soon be comparing the market for police service providers and refuse companies?

    I could go on but it’s just making me despair more. It seems there is no longer an ethos of public service or the common good. Profit and markets are not everything. And they are indeed more powerful than the will of the people.

  • formervoter 13th Jul '11 - 7:39pm

    Danny Alexander and Oliver Letwin. Isn’t Letwin the chap who stated that the NHS would not exist after five years of Tory Government? He’s right too – it won’t, nor will any of our public services soon.

    Here’s hoping I survive health and welfare reform till the next election when I can help ensure the Liberal Democrats are removed from public life forever. Many won’t be so fortunate as to survive – we will owe it to their memory and their tragedy to visit justice on the likes of Alexander and Clegg.

  • So, rather than be under the control of local government, with the subsequent transparency conferred by the FOI Act, private corporations will run public services, accountable not to the public and politicians, but merely to their shareholders and whatever weak regulatory body the Coalition come up with.

    It’s also always worth remembering that without Lib Dem approval no Tory policy can be passed. Everything that goes wrong with every Coalition reform will be blamed on the Lib Dems – the right will say you diluted their reforms to prevent them working properly, the left will say you enabled Tory reforms which are inherently flawed. Perhaps unfair, but that’s how it’s working out.

  • Peter Chivall 14th Jul '11 - 10:26am

    I listened on the loo to Danny Alexander waffle about this White Paper the other morning. Appropriate I think because that’s all this White Peter will be good for – it’s just a piece of neo-con ideological garbage of the ‘profit is good/ altruism is bad’ sort. The pretence is that everyone wants ‘choice’. More choice for the better informed or sharper elbowed inevitably means less choice for the rest. It leads to hideous inefficiencies – in this City with thousands of parents criss-crossing the city by car each morning and afternoon to take their children to the primary school of their ‘choice’ (often the only one they can get admission to) rather than walking with their children to a satisfactory neighbourhood primary school. Liberal Democrat policy has always (and still is) to seek a ‘good school in every community’ rather than the marketplace approach.
    On the radio, Danny Alexander was praising the Tory policy of ‘all schools must be Academies. ‘ Academies were not part of Liberal Democrat policy at the last election and not in the Coalition Agreement. Liberal Democrat policy on this was clearly restated last September in the overwhelming Conference majorities for the motions opposing further Academies and asking local LibDems to campaign against them.
    In any case I don’t understand why Danny Alexander was fronting this item – surely it should have been Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office. I can only conclude the Tories knew how any appearance by Alexander spouting the neo-lib/neo-con line would further discredit and demoralise the rst of the Liberal Democrats.
    I’ve given up on Danny Alexander. he is rapidly becoming the Tories’ de facto 2nd Scottish MP. If Murdoch can close down NOTW in an attempt to save the rest of his empire, surely, we should close down Danny Alexander to save what’s left of our Party’s credibility. Couldn’t Nick and Cameron do a transfer deal where Alexander trades in his yellow card for a blue one. In return we get a ‘green’ Lib Dem at DEFRA where some green input is desperately needed. The sickest part of this story is that for 90% of the public services Alexander wants to see privatised (sorry – ‘run by any qualified provider’) the White Paper would only apply to England (in Scotland they’re run by the SNP Government) so his oh-too-willing apostasy won’t affect his own constituents.

  • Absolutely nailed by Peter Chivall

  • Don Lawrence 14th Jul '11 - 11:25pm

    Bearing in mind Danny is very likely to lose his seat next time if he stands as a Lib Dem, is he making a play for the Tory candidacy in Inverness?

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