Accessibility links

My busy Tuesday ended with the launch of the 2020 Public Services Trust, an independent, all-party inquiry which we are hosting here at the RSA and on which I sit as a Commissioner. Having Times columnist Camilla Cavendish in the chair helped compensate for the rather white, middle-aged, male feel of the panel (and, yes, that does include me).  

My busy Tuesday ended with the launch of the 2020 Public Services Trust, an independent, all-party inquiry which we are hosting here at the RSA and on which I sit as a Commissioner. Having Times columnist Camilla Cavendish in the chair helped compensate for the rather white, middle-aged, male feel of the panel (and, yes, that does include me).  

Originally, the 18 month time scale for the Commission was designed with the idea in mind of reporting around the time of the next General Election. But now it fits neatly with the point at which public services will experience a massive deceleration in revenue and deep cuts in capital allocations. This is a vital turning point for public services and provides a good focal point for our deliberations. Anyway, I suspect that next spring is now the most likely election date.  

Personally, I will be relieved if we are not publishing at election time. I will never forget being woken at 6.00 in the morning on 16 May 2001 with the news that the Guardian had splashed with Labour’s secret plan to privatise public services, a plan apparently based on the recommendation of the IPPR Commission on Public Private Partnerships. As the Director of IPPR, I was at least relieved of my worries about how we were going to generate interest in our learned but rather dull and worthy Commission report!     

I still don’t know who gave the draft report to Patrick Wintour. I was told the leak was authorised by Labour strategists worried that the 2001 Manifesto was insufficiently New Labour. Unsurprisingly, elements in the Labour Party and trade unions were apoplectic with rage.  

Later that day I got a call from a friend in Millbank with a warning: 

‘I overheard one of Gordon’s people telling a journalist to try to do you and the Commission in. Be prepared’

Ten minutes later a call came from a journalist. ‘About this Commission, I see it was part funded by firms that sell private services to the public sector. How do you respond to the charge that you were paid to call for privatisation?’ 

I won’t reveal the name of the journalist as I don’t bear a grudge and we are now friendly acquaintances. Anyway, as he’s a Sunderland fan, I will be hoping to get more morsels of revenge when the Baggies go to the Stadium of Light on Saturday!

Comments

Be the first to write a comment

Please login to post a comment or reply.

Don't have an account? Click here to register.