Labour trying to cash in on Forces good name?

As an ex-serviceman with 38 years service in the RAF, I am of course a service pensioner.  I was therefore very interested to read about the issue of service pension cuts being raised at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.  Apparently, Labour delegates are very concerned that ex-service personnel are suffering a drop in their pensions because of the government’s decision to change the way rises in benefits are calculated.  The switch from RPI to CPI means that anybody receiving an index linked benefit, such as a public pension, will effectively be taking a cut in income year on year.

I of course have a vested interest in this subject and would be very pleased to see the link with the RPI restored.  However, why has Labour waited until their party conference to make a fuss about this?

Also, why is it only service pensions that they are so concerned about?  What about all the other public servants who are now, or soon will be, on a pension and are receiving a year on year cut in what may be their only source of income?

Could it be that the Labour Party is cynically seeking to cash in on the current high regard the military is enjoying in the public’s eye?  If there were no servicemen and women returning from Afganistan dead, or suffering from horrific and life changing injuries, would this item of even been discussed at the conference, let alone appeared on an agenda?

The thin blue line – business as usual

Read this piece from today’s Sunday Telegraph – Night the thin blue line snapped. By David Barrett and Patrick Hennessy to read an excellent analysis of why zero tolerance policing will fail without many other changes being made.

Sadly, there is a complete generation of fast tracked (2 years on the beat and then no more getting their hands dirty) whizz-kid coppers at the top of our police forces – I refuse to call the police a service, that’s what the refuse collectors do when they pick up my rubbish, they give me a service. As an aside, why did the senior cops of the time roll-over so easily? Why didn’t they tell the politicians to get stuffed and stick their name change?

Unless you can send these senior cops back to the staff college, where they were first indoctrinated in to the PC world our police now operate in, then nothing will change. Even then, this can’t happen in isolation, because as soon as the police throw the PC rule book out of the window, the civil rights lawyers will be all over them like a virulent and nasty rash.

Police officers need to be given the political backing and most importantly, the right training, to apply the law robustly and fairly, if zero tolerance is going to work. I have serious doubts that the American super-cop will last much longer than his first scathing report, or make any difference in the long run.

I’d like to be in America!

I’d like to be in America, everything’s ‘private’ in America……..

Excuse my shameless abuse of the words of the song, but it seems to be appropriate to the thinking of Bury Borough Council.  See Independent article link below.  It makes very interesting reading for all of us in local government, as do some of the readers’ comments below it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/bury-privatising-public-services-2255631.html

Hiving everything public off to the private sector and repatriating the business rates to ‘free’ local government from the central grant system, has a very American feel to it – and not in a good way.

I continue to be disappointed that the existing local government machine cannot figure out how to more closely align itself to the way the private sector does business, so as to survive the turmoil that is being imposed on it by central government cuts.

Obviously part of it will be about the terms and conditions that have become so favourable in local government in recent years, compared to the private sector.  It may be that we need to go through this ‘destructive’ phase in local government, in order for those who continue to defend this model to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ as they say. 

However, we also need to consider if it might only possible to recruit people with a public service ethic, when you make the pay and conditions more favourable that they are in the private sector.  I suppose the Holy Grail for this aspect is the volunteer, that extraordinary person who is not only driven by a need to help others, but is also willing to do it for nothing!  The alternative to this ideal, is that you accept the profit driven model and along with it the potential for a somewhat different attitude to public/customer service.  

The problem with culling from local government all those who joined because they saw public service as a noble cause and replacing them with those whose only gaol is the bottom line, is that it is then almost impossible to go back to the good old days.  There has been some talk of the John Lewis model working in local government, but this still requires employee buy-in based on profit sharing and would still need those currently in local government to accept, initially at least, reduced pay and conditions of service.

Even more worrying for local taxpayers, is the spectre of continued and increasing conflict between central and local government, as more councils change colour from blue (and the occasional yellow) to outraged red.