Suddenly everything has changed

The new parliamentary session hasn’t even started yet, and the policy announcements are coming thick and fast. I accept there was a need to publicise the carve up coalition agreement, if not least because many voters are now wondering what on earth they’ve voted for. 

But I think what we’re also witnessing is a good old “first 100 days” strategy, much beloved of the spin doctors, whereby the new Government tries to announce a new policy every day, thereby giving the impression of being ever so dynamic and bursting with energy and ideas.

So we’ve had HIPS consigned to the dustbin, and my sympathies are with the 3000 or so who will lose their jobs, including many locals who qualified at their own expense at the HIPS training centre near Temple Meads. I was lobbied in the past about the previous Government’s delays in introducing HIPS, which meant that people who’d retrained as HIPS assessors were unable to earn a living until they did. Energy Performance Certificates will remain, and there will be some jobs in that, but many people will have found they’ve shelled out on training and qualifications that are now worthless. Still, at least no-one can say this wasn’t flagged up by the Tories well in advance. They’d made their opposition to HIPS quite clear.

Another announcement was that the police will be able to prosecute some cases instead of referring them to the CPS. I actually started work at a magistrates court many years ago (OK, 1986) just as the CPS was introduced. The new system was hated by the court staff, but then again, they were also deadset against the introduction of new-fangled computers, and were still writing the results of cases in great big ledgers (not quite with a quill pen).

And the coalition has also said there will referendums held in major cities next May on whether they should have an elected mayor. (NB yes, I know it’s referenda really). I’ve never been keen on the idea, in that I think it all plays to the current fad for personality over policies, and I think people should vote for a party and its political platform, not a celebrity. I accept however, that because more people know who an elected mayor is, they can hold him/ her to account more easily and this helps address the democracy deficit in local government. So… I’m persuadable on that one. (I think for many people the answer to the question depends partly on who you think you’re going to get as mayor!)

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  • splinteredsunrise  On May 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    No, the elected mayor thing is a bit like Hegel’s idea of the enlightened monarch – works fine if you’ve got Frederick the Great, not so good if the quality of personnel isn’t there. Based on my extensive knowledge of Belfast City Council, I can only hope they aren’t daft enough to try it over here. Local government is shocking enough as is.

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