Ed Miliband has an article in todays’ Guardian that looks forward to his Hugo Young lecture this evening. This could be another important step forward for Ed and for his party. Let’s hope it’s a step in the right direction.
The wind-up front page headline above Patrick Wintour’s article about Ed’s speech might not do Ed any favours – at least not with Guardian readers – even if it does help to sell a few more copies of the paper in newsagents:
Ed Miliband: Labour will give parents power to oust headteachers
Ed’s actual article says this:
I want to challenge unaccountable power, be it public or private
Public services – the NHS and decent schools – clearly have a huge role to play in tackling inequality of income and opportunity.
But I care about something else as well: inequalities of power. Everyone – not just a few at the top – should have the chance to shape their own lives.
Just as it is One Nation Labour’s cause to tackle unaccountable power in the private sector, so we will tackle it in the public sector too.
The challenges facing public services – from mental health, to autism, to care for the elderly, to giving kids the best start in the early years – are just too complex to impose solutions from the top without the active engagement of the people who use and rely upon them.
Choice, contestability and competition do have a role . . . But parents cannot switch schools in the same way people go down to the shops or choose to go to a different cafe. And too often large public-sector bureaucracies have been replaced with a large private-sector bureaucracy. A Serco-G4S state can be just as flawed as the centralised state.
Decision-making structures in public services should be thrown open to people so that we tackle inequalities of power at source – from personal budgets that help disabled people design their own care to councils that involve users in key decisions, to the empowerment of parents so that they don’t have to wait for Ofsted if they believe things need to change in their school.
Watch this space.