The news this morning was unsettlingly familiar. Thatcherism returns with a smooth Cameron spin. Thatcher relished the fight, publicly squaring up to her enemies. The New Tories approach like an old friend, with arms wide open, the stiletto concealed within the sleeve.
Apparently the public will be consulted about the spending cuts choices. How jolly. And indeed you can go now to the Programme for Government website and insert your suggestions. There are already 82 comments about the plans for deficit reduction… The reality is clear in that BBC news item :
A “star chamber” of senior figures will be created, before which ministers will have to justify their spending. Ministers could be asked to consider whether services currently provided by their departments could be better supplied by the private or voluntary sectors.
Is this what the Committee of Public Safety, sorry, I mean the Office for Budget Responsibility is all about ?
Hmm. Hands up who remembers Prior Options Reviews ? Maybe this time the process really will be open minded, but thats not what it felt like last time round. There was a story of a civil servant handing in a report to senior minister X, which concluded that in this particular case there were sound arguments for particular bodies remaining in the public sector. Minister X tosses the report over his shoulder, and says “Try again”.
Now, lets see. Where did I put that phone number for the Serco guys ?
Update Thursday : Mike Watson sent me this apposite picture, snapped with his iPhone while he was in a traffic jam somewhere in Leicester ….