Friday, 9 October 2009

The state of the state

In a series of bold and radical initiatives, a Conservative government will allow ordinary citizens to set up and run the kind of local services that they have always expected the state to provide for them. Gone will be the days where parents spend endless evenings in autumn queuing outside the best state schools in the borough or crowding into the pews at the local church, desperate for a place at the 'faith school'.

Every parent in the land will now spend their evenings negotiating with the private firms who will help them run their own schools and arguing with other parents about educational policy. Under Conservative plans all schools will be allowed to opt out of state control and be run independently by sponsors such as parent groups. Private companies will be allowed to charge a 'management fee' for running these schools.

Whilst the aims are laudable in terms of offering greater control over their childrens' education and less dependency upon the state, it is hard to see them helping the lot of these already hard pressed parents. Most do indeed expect the state to be answerable to them (as opposed to the other way round) but they simply want what government has promised them all along, as it grabs their taxes: Better schools. Do they really want DIY instead?

The Conservatives are currently faced with the dilemma of reducing the role of the state whilst holding on to the sacred cows that the state established in the first place. They intend to guarantee the NHS and Sure Start, the 50p income tax rate and the minimum wage. The approach to education is well-intentioned but then... Ah! If only every school could be like Eton.

Many would agree that 'statism' and big government have become an issue over recent years, even that the state has become far too intrusive. But quite how one handles the issue is really the question. If they fail to comprehend the ramifications of their new political 'cross-dressing' then - to borrow from PJ O' Rourke - the Conservatives will end up the party that says that the state doesn't work and then get elected and prove it.


  1. Bernie Heckle-Stoned9 October 2009 at 10:51

    Well at least they're no longer the 'nasty party'!
    (Apart from that cosying up to rightwing Latvians bit)

  2. Isn't this 'political cross dressing' just another way of saying 'fudge'?

  3. Two possible plus points for the Tories, nevertheless:-
    First, it would be something if we could see an end to New Labour's obsession with targets and performance indicators.
    Second, the Tories are more likely to diminish the power of bureaucrats by ensuring that more of the available funding goes directly to the professionals who manage and operate front-line services.
    One hopes...

  4. Its good that people will be able to take over the running and the budgets of their kids' schools.
    I going to send my kids to Eton and ask to take over their budget

  5. I knew that the Tories meant 'all change' when I saw Bono appear at the conference... hoho

  6. Looks to me like the Tories are going to get themselves into an (Eric) Pickle... not drinking and then drinking champagne... anti state, but pro NHS...?
    Make your mind up Dave

  7. Bono's a tart, he'll sell anything if you give him enough money... Mobile Phones... Labour... Tories... Give us deh focking money... Oh no that was another Irish pop singer.

  8. O' Rourke of course was talking about government, as opposed to the state.
    Not sure whether they are the same thing.

  9. "Please will say: You made it happen..."
    "Yeah but we want you to make it happen, that's why we voted you in."

  10. Personally I think that there is nothing nicer than coming home after a hard days work and getting stuck into a three hour meeting with parents and 'private education reps'.
    Having done the Governors bit myself, I have an inkling of what this would be like.

  11. Its hard to please people. They want more say when it comes to their children's education, but they don't want more 'do'.

  12. Toadie in Parliament9 October 2009 at 14:51

    Can I remind those of you who bang on about Cameron going to Eton, that New Labour high command has had its fair share of Pubic School types - including 'Scottish Etons'?

  13. Harvard Educated9 October 2009 at 16:15

    I can still envisage a country where the more 'active' parents will get better schools in their areas and the children of the 'don't care' generation get the crap.

  14. Wouldn't it simply be easier to allow Grammar schools?

  15. Dave doesn't do Grammar schools anymore