Saw the news yesterday and found myself nodding along with George Osborne. What the world coming to eh? Had just come off the phone to a Councillor mate of mine who said, quite rightly, that this is what we've all voted for - and we need to remind them of that once the pain comes.
I was struck recently by an excellent Sunday Times piece by the academic Alison Wolf. Her view is that all this public sector reform is buggered if we don't get rid of national pay agreements, the pensions set-up and the juggernaut of legislation which locks costs into the way many things are done in the public sector (take `Safeguarding' as a very good example of high costs).
As someone who represents the users of public services, primarily - though I know a lot of people also work in them - I am concerned that the price will be paid disproportionately by users and not staff in the form of lower wages and reduced terms and conditions. In the public sector, you get a pension that is pushing two thirds what you earned if you pay in for a whole career. You can take off six months sick on full pay and you get paid the same whether you work in Guildford or Glasgow. All of this needs to be challenged and we can't do it from local authorities. We need the centre to make this happen, even if it means we have teachers nurses and coppers marching down Whitehall.
In Suffolk we are in brace-position for the imminent crash down to earth after seven years of being pumped up on Gordon and Alistair's budgets. Even last year, Suffolk recruited 1800 staff. Now we will hardly be recruiting anybody and deciding where the hammer will fall. While the public voted for it they won't be happy to see their new school buildings cancelled and their roads left unrepaired. But that's where we are just now.
Following this last election I now so crave sensible, far-sighted governance and hope, in this coalition, we get a bit of it. I believe that Labour are now out of the game for at least ten years - and deserve to be. I hate to say it but Thatcher was right when she said that Labour Governments always, in the end, spend us into trouble. This one was no exception.