See my article in FE Week regarding the Further Education and Skills sector on Devolution.
My views on putting the world to rights.
See my article in FE Week regarding the Further Education and Skills sector on Devolution.
So the people have spoken and we have a Conservative majority, albeit a small one that perhaps affords the Prime Minister some time to lead. It may not, in my opinion give him the free reign he requires to navigate through and implement some fairly problematic manifesto pledges but it does give him the opportunity to get ahead of the game. The opposition will need to be sharp, strong, clear and united if they wish to succeed in defeating any proposals brought forward. Crucially they must offer an attractive alternative. It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be to Labour walking through the opposition lobby with the SNP on crucial votes.
As Chair of the Ilford North Constituency Labour Party, I could not have been happier given that we managed to elect Wes Streeting as our MP. Through the brilliant efforts of our local organiser Matt Goddin the team was galvanised and succeeded where Labour failed nationally.
This brings me on to where I think Labour failed. You will of course have your own view but here is mine:
1) It is far too simplistic to say that it was just the fault of Ed Milliband but we did elect the wrong Milliband and in doing so we appealed to a minority of people who would find solace in trying to recreate a Labour party that existed in the 80’s when we were clearly unelectable.
2) We rejected the New Labour approach which was about putting together polices that appealed to a cross section of voters tapping into their aspirations as well as being business friendly. Now, I know for some folk in our party , one of our greatest and most successful Prime Ministers who understood this is deeply unpopular, (I disagree with their view) but for me I find it naive that we did not listen and learn from the approach of New Labour. We spent far too much time trying to apologise for the past effectively wiping out years of success. We needed to adapt not reject that ideology.
So what happens next? We need a complete review of what we as a party are about and policies that meet the aspirations of all classes to succeed in life. Above all we need a Leader that understands this and is able to galvanise the party, they must be strong and have credible policies that appeal. They will need all the necessary skills required to bring this together.
As a fair minded individual, I offer congratulations to David Cameron. He can now say that he won an election and at the same time removed 3 opposition leaders. He will have challenges on economic policy and whether he sticks to the plan remains to be seen. We have already seen some social unrest but expect more once there is clarity on welfare cuts. He is going to need to need all the skills of persuasion to manage his back benchers on Europe. He will be looking for an advantage beyond this Parliament. Boundary changes will be a priority and pushed through now they have a mandate. One thing for sure, it’s going to be interesting. Let’s see what happens.
As for Labour, the clock is ticking..........
So it’s National Apprenticeship Week and it’s great that nationally
we are promoting this wonderful initiative.
There is no doubt in my mind that Apprenticeships for young people offer
a fantastic way to earn and learn as well as an opportunity to develop new
skills. However there has been a long
debate in the UK about parity of esteem with the academic route taken by 50% of
If we truly want to achieve parity of esteem we need
Government Departments including the sponsor of National Apprenticeship Week, the
Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) to employ more Apprentices. I was at a conference today and was dismayed
to learn that BIS employ only 14 apprentices.
If we truly want a world class education system where apprenticeships sit alongside the academic route, Government Departments as well as employers need to do more in this area. Ministers often quote the German vocational system as the model of good practice. Sadly the UK is nowhere near in terms of its competitiveness or arrangements for making the Apprenticeship route a real option for the 50% of young people that do not wish to pursue a traditional academic route.
The prospect of an open primary for the next Mayor of London is exciting and intriguing at the same time. As someone born in this great City, my view is that London needs a Mayor who understands and can harness the complex issues of wealth/depravation and the need to position the Capital to meet the needs of all communities and business, large or small, now and in the future. That means providing jobs and opportunities for everyone that lives here. As for a Labour candidate, there are plenty of good leaders from local government that could do the job as there are leaders in Business.
As for selecting MP’s through Open Primaries. With the right framework in place we could potentially see much more in the way of ordinary people in Parliament. People who could relate much more effectively with the wider electorate. In other words a more diverse group of people bringing to Westminster their proven skills from outside of Parliament. Whatever the mechanism, something has to change and Open Primaries can be a good way forward in my view.
Today Michael Gove stood at the despatch box and apologised claiming he had listened. If you are a member of the Teaching Profession I would imagine that this will be welcomed. Apologising is actually a sign of strength in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all a fan of Mr Gove and do not share his political ideology. Putting your hands up and acknowledging where you have gone wrong is great, only if you mean it.
It seems to be a pattern of this Government to rush through policies without thinking of consequences or the impact on people. On important issues such as the economy (where of course the deficit has to be reduced) to educational reform to wind farms, this Government has not thought through its policy development. This coalition Government talks about a “global race” but this does not mean that legislative change have to be rushed through without considering the evidence first. Get it wrong and the impact will be felt for many years.
Instead of the Coalition trying to please each other, why not listen to the people that placed you there, consider the evidence from experts and then make a decision.
Now it would great if Matthew Hancock the joint BIS/DfE Minister would follow his Leader and reconsider his policy on Careers Advice, especially in light of the recent Education Select Committee report that slammed the Governments approach and the impact it is having on young people. We await a response.
G4s, A4E to name but two private sector organisations that have seemingly brought themselves into disrepute. Whilst I am not going to defend these two organisations I fully believe that some public services can be managed successfully by the private sector as long as the good folk in the public sector who specify and negotiate contracts are able to apply robust contract management. At the same time the private sector needs to understand and practice good responsible governance.
The G4S debacle is a clear case on how not to manage a supply chain. The simple questions that should have been asked were not and in the end, the fact that they are unable to deliver seems to be a surprise to LOCOG and Government.
If this Government is serious about reducing the size of the state and getting more and better delivery through a range of providers from different sectors it needs to ensure that it has a fully skilled workforce in place. Civil Servants need to understand and speak the language of commerce and so does Local Government.
Leaders need to develop and enhance their workforce in the critical skills required for public/private sector partnership.
The cost of not doing so is burden for all tax payers.
Here is my reflection on what happened in #bradfordwest.
Firstly, it seems to me that we had a candidate who did not focus enough on local issues. From what I saw of him on TV he did not really inspire confidence. This is surprising given that he is as I understand Deputy Leader of the Council?
Secondly, it was in my view a fatal mistake for us (Labour) to think that a local Asian and Muslim candidate would be the best person for the job. The local CLP needs to reflect on this. The best candidate should be the best candidate regardless of race, gender, disability etc. You get my point. If they are local then that is great, if they are not this should be no problem. Sometimes a fresh look at these things is much better.
Thirdly, lots of comment on the so called Asian vote. In the end it doesn’t matter if the electorate is black, white, yellow or green, male or female, straight or gay, young or old. It’s about our policies and what side of the argument people stand on. Yes there are those in the community that are disproportionately hit i.e., low GCSE attainment for certain ethnic groups, but if the policy direction is clear and people can see how it will benefit them, they will vote.
Fourthly, whilst I do not doubt at all the commitment of the volunteers pounding the streets of Bradford West, I suspect that organisation and preparation were not what they could have been given that the CLP and some in Labour thought this was a walk in the park. Any campaign needs serious organisation. What’s the saying, “fail to plan - prepare to fail” The mutterings from the Party indicate that Tom Watson went AWOL. The General Secretary needs to hold a firm line and even if it means upsetting people help get the organisation right.
In the end, it’s important that lessons are learned. Some are already saying that this will never happen again. If we are complacent, it will.
It’s that time of the year when we look to learn from mistakes, put things right and create a positive force for the New Year by setting in place New Year’s Resolutions.
Personally, I do not believe in New Year Resolutions as they are there to be broken and when they are it leaves us feeling despondent. But I do believe in goals, so here’s my go at sharing with you some hopes, goals and desires from a personal and professional perspective for 2012.
No surprise that financially, 2012 is going to be the toughest yet. There is a view that world markets will be on the brink of disaster and world leaders will have to collaborate to create growth and jobs as well as stabilising the all-powerful “markets”.
There will be work to do to help stabilise the new regimes as they emerge from the “Arab Spring” to avoid Islamic fundamentalists seizing an opportunity to govern.
There will be work to do to continue to provide aid for developing countries but importantly get them on a sound foundation to create their own wealth.
On the home front:
I’m hoping that Labour renews itself and becomes the party of hope to the masses, not just opposing the Government for the sake of it but providing a real alternative that people buy into as they did in 1997. This will take vision and a Leader that can reach out as well as demonstrating that we are the party of financial competence. I believe that as the Coalition moves into 2012, their track record of managing the economy will increasingly be seen by many as narrow and ideology driven. They are not strong enough to have or admit that there is another way. Therefore Labour must be clear on its position on policy, develop a strategy, articulate it to the electorate so that that there is real choice. Now which famous Prime Minister said this? Clue – he won us 3 consecutive elections!
I’m also hoping that there are more characters representing Labour as MP’s. My view is that Politicians should not just come from a narrow gene pool of being Oxbridge educated followed by a short period working as a Special Adviser. We need people who have had good careers outside of politics. It is these people that voters will relate to as they will have real life experiences. So come on Labour enough, of who knows who and let’s get some real people back into politics. We will be better for it.
No surprise here for those of you that know me. My hope & desire 2012 will see Leeds make it to the Play off Final; where at the 3rd time of asking will be promoted back to the big time. Simon Grayson will still be our Manager and uncle Ken will be preparing to sell us to the highest bidder. In two years’ time, we will win the Premiership!!!
I work in the public sector so it does not look good for me does it? However, I am confident in my own abilities and with a mortgage to pay need to work. So, maybe this time of uncertainty is a real opportunity. So my goal – is get a new job and get it quickly!
With over a 1 million young people unemployed and prospects looking bleak it does not look good. The Government has taken away the ladders of opportunity for many, with the withdrawal of EMA, Careers Guidance services and programmes that have supported young people. It wouldn’t seem so bad if replacements are better, but they are not. The work programme and payment by results mechanisms will drive providers to only work with those young people who will succeed. What about those that need long term help? The statistics in the short term will favour politicians but the reality behind the scenes will see young people with specific needs left behind. I really do hope that these programmes work. For the sake of young people they need to.
So there you go a few thoughts hopes and desires. But whatever you hope for in 2012 set some goals, have confidence and faith in your own abilities, put them to use and help each other.
You never know what will happen.
All the best for 2012.