Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I've just spent a couple of hours trying to find the beef in the final report from the Tories' Public Services Improvement Policy Group. With 155 separate policy "proposals" you'd think there'd be some beef. Somewhere. Wouldn't you?

1. Health

There is absolutely nothing here that the existing commissars could object to. Indeed, the entire premise is that the Tories would stick to Labour's own Wanless Report. Or more specifically, its proposal for "full engagement":

"Proposal 1 – We propose that the next Conservative government should adopt a healthcare framework that embraces the principles of ‘full engagement’ of citizens, health professionals, commissioners, providers and government in working together to secure world class outcomes across the health system."

Sounds good- exactly the sort of New Jerusalem healthcare system Nye would have been proud of.

Such a shame it doesn't work in the nasty real world where citizens, health professionals, commissioners, providers, and government all have this horrible tendency to pursue their own selfish interests.

Or has this policy group found the holy grail of comradely cooperation? Judge for yourself:

"Proposal 98 – We propose the next Conservative government should work with professional and patient groups to develop a new primary dental service contract that ensures equitable access to dental services."

Simple as that, huh?

On health, there's barely the whiff of an Oxo cube, let alone anything as radical as patient passports.

2. Education

A scintilla of beef here. Or at least, a commitment to allow private organisations to set up new schools in areas where state provision has failed. Could it be choice and competition?

Sadly, as Reform point out in their commentary, since only 2.9% of schools are officially designated as "failing", this is a very limited step. Indeed, it is significantly less radical than what the Tories offered at the last election- all pupils being offered a "Right to Choose" state funded pupil passport to any school, including independents.

As for the other proposals, they are distinctly more veggieburger than ground steak: more discipline (just like Labour now want), more phonics (just like Labour), more setting (just like Labour), much less red tape... etc etc. In other words, current commissariate group-think.

What isn't confronted at all is the fundamental conflict between letting teachers get on with teaching (said to be desirable), while at the same time imposing top down rules specifying exactly how and what they should teach. Like, Dave and Steve Dorrell are education experts?

3. Social Housing

No. Sorry. I'm afraid I nodded off. You'll have to read the rest yourself.


Lots of pages.

Very little to excite anyone.

Keep up the BUPA payments, take out a school fees plan for your children/grandchildren, and redomicile taxwise.

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