The Local Government Chess Board
‘Do you ever get the feeling that you’re just a pawn on a big chess board?’
So asked Sarah Norman during a discussion of public sector job losses and the attempts by the Government to move those jobs to the private sector; either by moving the service into the private sector or by losing public sector jobs and replacing them with a growing private sector.
However, the wider question Sarah asked is a profound one.
I think we expect our leaders to be something akin to chess players, making their small moves but always doing so with an overall plan and a view of exactly what is happening across the whole chess board.
So as we like to do with profound questions here is the We Love Local Government guide to how our leaders, and others in local government, play chess:
Eric Pickles: Mr Pickles is a chess player with just one strategy. He’s learnt it really well and is consistent and well drilled in its delivery. However, if people try to deviate from the ‘cuts’ strategy it can flummox him and make him make mistakes. However, those that underestimate him and dive straight him, not seeing the wider strategy, often end up with their king lying face down.
The local councillor: Adept at playing the role of the knight, the local councillor can jump in multiple directions, leap over problems and others with a single leap and change direction when things get tricky. However, their reach and scope are limited.
David Cameron: A man who has been known to struggle with the details I reckon David Cameron is one of those guys who has a clear vision of where he’d like the whole board to be but then leaves the game up to someone else to play; only stepping in when the player tries to put his own piece into checkmate.
The local government chief executive: A man just playing the king. He can only really see one square to either side of him but knows it is imperative that he survives so does so by making the most of these meagre powers and trying to get into the best possible position to survive.
Ed Miliband: A chess player constantly on the attack but struggling to break through the defences of the opposition. Struggling to make an impact but constantly playing short term attacks in the hope one of them will stick.
The third sector: In a time of cuts there is a greater incentive to be one of the ‘big’ organisations able to get money from the Government’s new payment by results or to compete against the big services firms and ‘bid’ to run council services. Therefore, the third sector is like a collection of people only able to play their own pawn; each trying their best to make it to other end of the board so that they can become a queen.
The WLLG blog: We’re the commentary team stuck behind the pillar. We’ve got a really good view of a little part of the board but we are far away from the board, can’t influence the play and can’t always tell what else is influencing our few squares of the board.
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