Posts Tagged ‘public accounts committee’

In times of austerity, people stick rather than twist

25/09/2011, 10:25:40 AM

by Stella Creasy

In times of economic fear, the political pendulum swings firmly to the purse. A public concerned about losing their job or rising prices wants a government that understands what matters is how their bills are paid. It is a politics not of public services but personal futures. Any party seeming profligate is given short shrift.

The consequences of this government’s debt fixation are now obvious: growth draining from our economy; unemployment pouring in. If this carries on, by 2015 inequality will have worsened and public services could be in tatters. Against such a backdrop, it is tempting to imagine the pendulum swinging back, returning Labour to office to pick up the pieces. Yet in such circumstances, people stick rather than twist. They may know Conservatives are more interested in the bottom line than the front line, but have little faith in any alternative. In this age of austerity, Labour has to rebuild confidence in our economic approach, so that we can redefine the case for progressive politics.

We should acknowledge our past as we plan for our future. Many have chewed over Labour’s fiscal policy – but this is only half the story. As a member of the public accounts committee, it is a privilege and a provocation to analyse how the previous government changed lives. There will be more pupils learning maths and sciences. We built a series of children’s centres of which earlier generations of progressives could only dream. The youth justice board reformed Britain’s capacity to tackle youth offending.

We must also be willing to learn from the difficulties we faced – whether within healthcare, defence contracting or transport infrastructure management. Our opposition is quick to argue that these reflect poor policy. But, as they are discovering, ideas are not the same as implementation. Already our committee has highlighted that their proposals for healthcare, PFI and the future jobs fund do not stand the test of value for money.


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