Thursday, May 22, 2008

Public sector ethos redux

If you're here because of a link from Stumbling and Mumbling, I think you are meant to be looking at this post about TV detectives - a sequel to this one about the need for a public service ethos. (I think Chris has accidentally mis-linked).

And, for the record, this...
"This doesn't just mean that the neoliberal idea that everyone is motivated by narrow self-interest is wrong. It also means that there are dangers in "reforming" the public services. Reforms that introduce profit motives, or alienate workers by introducing heavier-handed management, might add to costs by reducing donated labour."
... is a very good point indeed. My only caveat is that Chris focusses on the ideology of managerialism - a newish phenomenon if I read him correctly. The more I understand his position here, the more I agree with it by the way. It may well be the epitaph of the 1997-2010 Labour government (if it does die in 2010):
Here lies the government that managed to enact the Crosslandite Democratic Socialist dream of redistribution through effective economic management, but entirely fucked it up because it allowed itself to be captured by useless management consultants.
But these TV tecs show that there is nothing that new about arse-covering useless British management.


chris said...

I did indeed mislink, and have corrected the error.
I'm not sure whether New Labour has fulfilled the Croslandite dream of redistribution; official figures show almost no change in income equality since 97. More likely, it's just offset the market forces for greater inequality.
I fear one lesson we might learn from the collapse of New Labour is that redistributing income without redistributing power is only a temporary way to help the working class. But we should have learned that by the early 80s.

Paulie said...

Good point - and clumsy (hasty) drafting on my part.

What I was trying to say was that they wanted to increase *public spending* without being seen to apply progressive taxes that would be called punitive by the usual suspects.

They acheived this - funding a significant increase in public spending out of economic growth and stability (something the Tories has acheived less of in the preceding years).

That it has only acheived (at best) modest outcomes can be explained very well by your usual explanation for this sort of thing - which gets more convincing the more I think about it.

The Plump said...

Yep. Spending has increased. But mainly on bollocks so I like that quote, even if it is inexact.

Labour's punishment of public sector workers through their stupid concept of attacking producer interests to protect consumers (actually we are both at different times, both matter and are not necessarily mutually exclusive - consumers get a better service at the hands of a happy producer) is a suicidal alienation of one of its main support base. Blair has scars on his back? Fuck off, he has been rubbing the salt into ours.

Mind you, GPs and consultants gained as the government thought they were all lazy bastards and forced them to account for their time - the result that ended up paying them for all the unpaid extra work they habitually did.

Shows what happens when you try and manage something you know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

Only one S in Crosland, or did you mean Crossman anyway?
Either way, both Crosland and Crossman would have been horrified and depressed by the mess their successors have got themselves into.

Darren said...

Oh for a Crossman diaries to detail the Blair/Brown Government years. *sigh*

Paulie said...


Yes - I DO mean Crosland - as in 'The Future of Socialism'. I think this post has reminded me: Don't post in haste.

I must admit, though: I dipped into the Crossman Diaries and thought them quite boring a few years ago. I much preferred Ben Pimlott's Wilson biog - Pimlott was very good - a political writer more intersted in explaining how government worked than in political gossip (though he wasn't entirely immune to the latter either).