Labour’s Choices are still there…

Not given up the fight

Mandelson - not given up the fight

I enjoyed watching Labour’s Brighton conference last week. One of the odd aspects of watching other parties’ conferences, when you have been to as many of your own party’s ,as I have, leaves you wondering if the coverage is credible, or reliable.

For the first time ever a close friend of mine was at the Labour conference and regularly spoke to me about the ‘mood’ of the delegates.

The impression I got, against my expectations, was that with figures like Peter Mandelson the party had not lost its will to survive the General Election and was keen to start a fight back against the presumption of the press, notably The Sun, that the Labour Party is doomed at the election.

One of the key agendas that the party was promoting was that it still could act as a radical, vehicle of change that the Conservatives, in particular, are incapable of delivering.

I, for one, would never argue that the Conservative Party is ever going to be a vehicle of positive change and was interested to hear what Labour were promoting as their big idea to offer this next step forward.

It appeared to be ‘the choice agenda’. This policy, apparently meant to give people greater decision-making authority over such issues as sending their children to a school of their choice or having an operation in a ward of their choice is a reasonable suggestion, but it leaves me completely cold.

Having worked in local goverment, and been on the margins of government I cannot help but think that civil servants would not be able to grasp the concept and more importantly it does not appeal to me, as it feels gimmicky.

I recently became a vegetarian and am feeling much better about what I eat than I ever have, and this involved a choice that no one else had a say in. I have reduced my choices when I go food shopping and when I dine out, but all the same I am happier as a consequence.

Choice is not a credible replacement for being right and living within the principles people set themselves. My parents sent me to private school; a choice I am very grateful for. But in the public sector it is important to improve the quality of all public institutions rather than simply hoping that by people moving from one provider to another they will feel ‘better’.

A change is not as good as the best!

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