The Curmudgeon


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fear is the Key

Oh, dear. No sooner does Daveybloke, in his usual Blairy manner, prove we're all in it together by toddling off to Tuscany for his hols, than some malicious right-wing backbencher or scheming Liberal Democrat goes and takes the gag off Oliver Letwin. Goodness only knows how it came about, but Letwin, who has been kept in the basement since his helpful comments on the prevention of flying northerners, was somehow allowed to have a blather in public about public services. "You can't have room for innovation and the pressure for excellence without having some real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers that things may go wrong if they don't live up to the aims that society as a whole is demanding of them," Letwin blathered. He seems to have left it to his audience to draw the obvious contrast with the banking sector, whose efforts to live up to society's expectations can be improved with nothing more than a bit of a talking-to when the profits become tactless. Letwin further blathered that for the last twenty years "productivity" had improved everywhere except in the public sector; a spokesbeing for the Office of National Statistics said that he did not know where Letwin had got his figures, which in Standard English presumably means that Letwin made them up, or perhaps ordered one of his little men to make them up for him. ONS statistics do show that, during the almost twenty years between 1997 and 2008, there was a steady increase in staffing and equipment levels as compared with the output of such merchandise as operations performed and pupils taught. It is just possible that this corresponds to Letwin's idea of a fall in productivity, but I should not like to accuse even Oliver Letwin of being quite so brilliant as that.


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