Monday, June 13, 2011

The Un-cooperative Council...

David Cameron's "Big Society" is being repackaged in appealingly "mutual" boxes and offered to local people in Lambeth, and elsewhere, as a supposed alternative to cuts in public services.

Mutualism has a proud record and - I hope - a strong future in financial services and retail. Worker Co-operatives have shown that they can compete and survive in manufacturing (not least because they aren't burdened by the need to support rentier shareholders who contribute nothing to wealth creation).

However the case for mutuals as a replacement for the state in the delivery of core public services has not been made and - in Lambeth - its most enthusiastic adherents are finding the case hard to make.

Word reaches your humble blogger of an attempt by a Councillor to consult local people on whether volunteers can be recruited to keep an Adventure Playground open.

When the one parent who turned up expressed their opposition the eager Councillor reportedly asked staff if, after they had all been made redundant, they might come back as volunteers to keep the service running.

I understand that there was little enthusiasm for this particular "alternative to cuts".

Perhaps the answer to the question asked by staff invited to go on working for nothing after they had been sacked ("How shall we eat?") is that their food could be prepared by whichever genius wove the fabulous clothing (visible only to those who truly understand the journey to a Co-operative Council) worn by our Council Leader when he visits other boroughs to share Lambeth's vision?

The attempted imposition of a mutual or co-operative model of service delivery in an area subject to savage cuts disrespects the memory of the Rochdale Pioneers and contradicts the values for which our Council is supposed to stand.

If we wish to defend and improve public services (encouraging diverse models of service delivery where this is appropriate and beneficial) then we need to take on the Government - not do their bidding.

This requires a different kind of co-operation, between unions, communities and local Labour Parties in a campaign against all cuts in public services.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

1 comment:

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