The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Labour Builds A Strawman

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 4, 2009 @ 06:30

I was toying with a picture of Worzel Gummidge, but I wasn't sure if people would remember him. In any case, he used to scare the hell out of me.

I was toying with a picture of Worzel Gummidge, but I wasn't sure if people would remember him. In any case, he used to scare the hell out of me.

When I first read about the “plan” to slash health spending on frontline staff yesterday I didn’t really think all that much about it. It was just another contribution to the debate.

But with hindsight, I was wrong.

It’s all so convenient. Government department asks management consultants (evil, evil people!) to come up with ways of saving money. Management consultants (who are evil, by the way) co-incidentally suggest cutting 10% (heard that number before?) off the budget. But not just any old cut – a cut directly on the frontline staff. Labour government rejects the plan. Then they take the credit for rejecting something that only really existed in the mind of a PR man/woman.

Now, excuse my cynicism, but it all just fits together too nicely. Labour gets a chance to rail against management consultants, whom no one has a favourable opinion of, and also gets the very fortunate opportunity to talk about their real plans to defend the health service from cuts as a result. Oh, and by the way, they also get to talk about the 10% cuts figure again… subconsciously planting the idea, once more, that the Tory plan is going to be bad. Even better, it now associates the Tory plan with management consultants.

If that all seems a bit too stretched, too much to believe, then I think you may be a touch naive. Politicians in this day and age plan media attacks to the letter, co-ordinating them with any compliant media they can get their hands on. Obfuscating the neutrality of the attack by using think tanks, pressure groups and so-called “independent” reports from experts or inquiries is also an essential part of the strategy.

In this case, it was a clever leak to the Health Service Journal. Note that the BBC article implies that the government also invited other management consultants to suggest ideas for savings. How come they haven’t been leaked too? Why cherrypick the 10% one for the spin exercise? Well, it’s obvious now isn’t it.

What this story does suggest though is that Labour still haven’t got it. Contrary to recent expectations that we are over the worst of it, the British economy is still in crisis. The government is going to have to borrow more than it predicted, saddling us with even greater debt, a burden to be passed on to future generations – all at a bad time when the costs of the public sector, and the pension and benefits systems, are just overwhelming.

But even if we accept this story at face value, the conclusion is that Labour is indeed planning for significant cuts in services. That’s somewhat contrary to their public image of Labour investment vs Tory cuts.

Either way: Labour’s demise continues.

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