The Department for Criticising Local Government
The Department for Criticising Local Government (for that is what the DCLG has become) have developed their operating model over the past eight months and I think we are now in a position to identify the different roles the Ministers play.
It goes something like this:
- Eric Pickles makes the generalised attack on Local Government. This will be done in a forum where there can be no real come back (set piece TV or radio interview, newspaper etc) and in the context of another Government announcement. In effect the attack will be an aside used to partially justify the Government’s position; be it the need for cuts, localism, or local government pay caps etc.
- Grant Shapps will be rolled out to argue with the Local Government representatives over the details of the criticism. He will usually choose two or three talking points and defend them all day from Radio 4 in the morning to Newsnight before bed. He’s very good and usually wipes the floor with his opponent.
- Bob Neill will act as the voice of outraged Britain picking on a small example, usually taken out of context, that proves that local government is wasteful, crooked or otherwise disagreeable. His speciality is local papers and responses to newspaper stories. He particularly loves ‘non-jobs’, expensive buildings, high pay and bins but will turn his hand to anything the DCLG spin team choose to plant with their favourite papers.
Which got me thinking; what will be the story next week and who will deliver it? Here are some thoughts:
- Local Government is closing too many swimming pools denying Britain a chance of winning gold at the 2012 Olympics (Eric Pickles)
- XXX Borough council is closing its pool despite the presence of two senior managers in the leisure department earning over £60,000. It also refuses to share the management of the pool with neighbouring authorities (Grant Shapps).
- The pool was once used to host a ‘big fat gypsy wedding’ and the authority spent £5,000 making the environment appropriate as part of their diversity strategy. (Bob Neill)
- Local Government is not delivering on its commitment to clean graffiti off public buildings at a sufficient rate (Eric Pickles)
- Evidence from the Local Government Association themselves shows that the proportion of the council budget invested in graffiti cleaning has fallen in each of the past three years as councils have stopped focusing on what residents really want. (Grant Shapps)
- XXX council has a policy of actively encouraging graffiti; protecting the rights of criminals above the rights of normal residents and refusing to even clean the area’s residents truly care about. (Bob Neill)
Any more suggestions for what the DCLG might come up with next week?