I would love to know who wrote chapter 6 of the UK budget document, entitled improving public services. Whoever it was, their capacity to write vacuous phrases is unparalleled. The chapter is a masterpiece of New Labour meaninglessness
Take, for example, "Box 6.2 Working together - Public services on your side", which you will find on page 117. Apparently, there are "three principles" underpinning public service provision in the UK today. The first is "empowering citizens". This is defined as "closely matching rights with responsibilities through services".
One question immediately springs to mind here; how does public service provision define a citizen's rights? Call me a fool, but I thought the law defined a citizens' rights. Not in New Labour Britain. Public services defines rights.
The second principle is new professionalism. The authors do not clarify was wrong with old professionalism, or if indeed and it was such a thing as old professionalism. In the New Labour lexicon, new is good, old is bad.
Anyway, I digress. According to this year's budget, new professionalism is about "new freedoms for local communities and service leaders". It's about "tailoring services and economic strategies across local areas" and it will include at least "six new multi-area agreements in the coming year".
The nonsense doesn't stop with multi-area agreements. New professionalism is about "professionals leading innovation and efficiency". There are other feel good words liberally sprinkled around, such as development, coordination, and the information revolution.
The last principle is strategic leadership. I thought I understood this one until I read that the government "will set standards and entitlements and then stand back". It will focus on "30 high-level outcomes", which they do not specify, and which will serve as a substitute for micromanagement. Nevertheless, this stand back and watch strategy will "improve productivity and drive innovation.
To tell you the truth, in the past I never bothered reading government publications. In retrospect, I understood why. Instinctively, I knew that any publication produced in behalf of new Labour would be unintelligible phrase mongering, signifying nothing. I know it is easy to be cynical, but someone has to put a stop to this gibberish.
(if anyone has any examples of New Labour nonsense, please send it to me here. Electro-Keven I haven't forgotten your example. It will be posted shortly)