UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Who is Stella Creasey? Where has she been hiding?

“Labour should demand value for money from the state sector argues party’s ‘rising star’” http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/aug/14/labour-focus-value-for-money. Stella Creasey, Labour MP for Walthamstow made headlines yesterday in what must have been a “back to the future moment” for those of us involved in the public sector, or to quote the great Yogi Berra, déjà-vu all over again.

A protégé and speech writer to Douglas Alexander and Charles Clarke before becoming a MP herself, she seems scarily unaware of the continuous efficiency and improvement agenda that Labour governments from 1997 inherited from the Tories before them and propagated ad nauseam throughout their term of office. It is as if the Gershon review and the Best value regime never existed.

“Value for money is a progressive agenda” says Ms Creasey, as if she has just woken up to the concept. It is a progressive agenda when it is about ensuring that the design of services is accomplished with the full involvement of the workforce and service users, an agenda that UNISON and agencies like APSE have been propagating for what seems like decades (probably because it has been). It is not a progressive agenda when it is an excuse to offload the state’s responsibilities to city sharks.

For those of us with longer memories, it sounds like the right of the Labour party have realised that their sacred cows of privatisation and wholesale contracting out may not longer be politically quite so viable now that the scandal of companies like G4S and A4E has laid bare the extent to which the private sector rips off public funds for profit while ruthlessly exploiting workers.

To rebalance the equation, the efficiency of the public sector must yet again be questioned, as usual without any evidence or any seemingly any knowledge of the processes that have already put in place. Ms Creasey comes very close to the old “New Labour” mantra of what matters is what works, without any consideration of what that has meant in terms of the our taxes being ripped off to provide huge bonuses for directors and large profits for private companies without any improvement in services.

Ms Creasey has not been quoted on record as condemning the outrage that is PFI where the figures are rigged against the public sector, nor the marketisation of services where the workforce effects of lower wages and loss of terms and conditions creates “mac-jobs”. The Labour Party must be clear about its commitment to public services and public service workers. Until then statements such as this from so called “rising stars” will trouble voters who believe in real value for money from the tax that we pay being spent in this most efficient way possible –through public services – and who will hesitate to consider voting for a party that is offering more of the same.

In the meantime could APSE please supply Ms Creasey with a selection of their policy papers on public service improvement? Let’s hope that she is open minded enough to learn not just from the past but from the continuous efforts of public sector workers?