Kettling Local Government

As with a lot of other people, I have been following (from afar, I confess) the recent marches and demonstrations about the cuts being made in the public sector. What has struck me, after reading Dominic Campbell’s post on his experience, is the similarity between the kettling tactics being used by the police and how central government are approaching “cutting the deficit” by kettling Local Government. How much shoving and shouting there has been in local government, I’m sure there has been some, but it’s certainly not a place anyone would choose to be.  After all, the police are ordinary people with a little bit more power than the rest of us. Central Government is just government with a bit more power than local government.

As We Love Local Government rightly says, cuts need to be made and local government does need to reform. But like the majority of protesters, we are all here to do the right thing. Backing local government into a corner to make these cuts is harming the many to try and weed out the few.

The speed and severity of the cuts have a striking resemblance to how quickly and harshly the police can form a kettle. They are leaving people scared for their jobs, scared for the future of the services they have spent tremendous effort trying to deliver, frustrated at not being able to make any progress. Some are allowed to escape, with options such as early retirement and voluntary redundancy. Others are forced to remain with the prospect of finding alternative employment unlikely due to being tarred with the Local Government brush of shame.

I usually try in many of my blog posts to pop in the odd joke or pun, but it doesn’t seem right for this post. So I shall finish up by taking Dominic’s very well constructed last sentence, and reconfiguring it for the purpose of this post:

“Until Central Government learn to distinguish between the efficient many and the wasteful few, and develop more nuanced approaches to budget cutting to deal with that, there can never be any hope of building trust between themselves and the people they are supposedly there to support.”

Many thanks to

Dominic Campbell –
http://dominiccampbell.posterous.com/my-experience-of-the-26march-protests

We Love Local Government – http://welovelocalgovernment.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/why-i-didnt-march/

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