Sunday, 12 July 2009

Behaving responsibly in the face of unfairness

Children seem obsessed with being treated unfairly. They constantly question whether the treatment and benefits that are laid down out by parents, school or anyone else in the line of fire is delivered fairly.

I guess it’s human nature ... but the issue of being treated fairly is not only a local one or a national one but also a global one. With this release of Obama’s first speech to African nations stressing the role of good governance, it really seems that western nations and particularly Britain after the expenses scandals are in glass houses throwing stones.

Working over this weekend I’ve also been thinking about how to get the clearest message to local people about the need to take action to protect public services when there is such a lot of unhappiness with the quality of them after years and years of sustained cut backs on all from all sides. Some politicians seem to think that it’s just about fighting the cause, however some of the work has to be about taking local communities with us. One of the difficulties is media onslaught from certain prominent individuals about public sector wages and pensions. Although some of it is from the shallow thinking of the Tax Payers Alliance and other Daily Mail readers there all too often pressure from “so-called” friends. Look here for a thoughtful post from Michael Meacher telling it how it is.


Tony Clarke said...

Anjona, I was at the Malawi Independence Day celebrations on Saturday and when you see there economic growth this year at 7.9% making it a 7% average over the last five years then I agree the west should think carefully before preaching too loudly.

On public services I think the problem you identify in respect of the public view is that they see our public services are not good now, so why should we fight to protect those currently supplying them?

The answer of course will always be that if you have to provide for a profit element with an outside provider then you can be sure that even less money will available to spend on the service.

Personally I feel the cureent "market testing" exercise being undertaken by NBC may have a few hidden agendas and that the council not having the cash to fulfil pledges on pay gradings and pensions may drive them to outsource rather than keep them in house.

But fight them we must, and it will take a collective effort.

Anjona Roy said...

Thanks for your comment Tony.

The points I made about public services were that it is more difficult to promote the argument for good public services to be provided publically in an environment where people are dis-satisfied with public services.

Locally the Labour party has come out against the market testing as privatisation by the back door.

I think part of the problem is that with Private Finance Initiatives being so much of some of our local services (schools etc.), it's harder to see what's private and whats public.

As an example of this I have a friend call me who runs an after school club/school holiday playscheme on the premises of a PFI run school. The after school club have been told today (a week before the breakup of schools) that if they want to use the school playing fields then they will have to pay for their use. Given that the school went to PFI management some good few years ago and that the hire cost for school playing fields hasn't been thought necessary until now, it seems like private companies putting a tax on parents having children. Income streams are quite easy to find when you have working families and community groups stuck between a rock and a hard place.