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Looking Back at the Week that Was with FE News

The wind is howling through the eaves, and the skies have clouded over to the extent that the only shadows being cast are those of the looming towering figures that hover above with nefarious purposes.

It brings to mind thoughts of those classic films from the past when black and white were the only colours on celluloid, and when talkies were the newest thing. Huge looming dark sets that made one think of those nightmares that are squashed beneath layers of denial; the films whose sets served as an inspiration for the first of the homage genre to superheroes, Batman, with the magnificently distressed feel of the fictional Gotham City matching the emotionally scarred hero of the piece.

In these sets the huddled masses looked up at the grey walls about them and did not flinch, did not react. They looked up and did not see walls rising from the ground and stabbing into the sky above with no release. They simply saw the confines of their world and their lives ““ albeit in a fictional world ““ and not the coal ““ coloured bars of their cage. The trudge went on and the spires at the summits were beyond their comprehension and beyond their care. Work, drink, punch, home, sleep, work, drink, punch, home, sleep”¦it is almost as though someone looked at modern urban life in all its squalor and put it into a film!

Wherefore and Why?

There may appear to be no reason for this digression into film world. But bear with this notion, for there are in fact similar monolithic constructs that are shadow ““ casting on the very darkest of November days. This was brought into sharp relief by the antics this week in “Politico Land”, a Disney style theme park where the villain just so happens to be the figure of vilification for a nation even before the crisis that currently plagues him.

I speak, of course, of the Right Honourable John Prescott MP, Deputy Prime Minister at present and under increasing pressure to resign following the visit to the United States ““ based gambling tycoon bidding for the super casino. It would appear that the man attracts scandal at present, with his affair with a member of staff dragging the Government laundry through the “Sleazomatic” laundrette that is the press and public scrutiny. It may well prove to be the final nail in the coffin of John Prescott’s political career, in spite of the repeated statements to the effect that he was in no position to directly influence the decision on locating the super casino in Britain’s white elephant, the Millennium Dome.

Everyone remembers the Millennium Dome, I am sure. That would be the huge upside down wok sitting right next to Greenwich on ground that has not been properly cleaned up. The monument ““ that could not be sold after 2000, even with substantial Government incentives – to the damp squib that London’s official celebration proved to be ““ after all, who can forget the fiasco of the fireworks display along the Thames that ended up being concealed behind a veil of smoke? A worrying precedent to set for a nation set to host the greatest show on Earth in 2012 ““ hopefully the words “piss up” and “brewery” will not be so readily at hand in six years time.

Ch ““ ch ““ ch ““ ch ““ ch ““ changes”¦

Back to the subject at hand, however ““ there will be plenty of time to discuss the glorious Dome another time. As the media frenzy surrounding the Deputy Prime Minister intensifies, many commentators and interested parties cry havoc over the alleged influence that could potentially have been exerted by private interests; still others deplore the media’s penchant for politicians” flesh. In this image, the media and press professionals are somewhat akin to a pit-bull ““ once the media terrier takes hold, they will never surrender their bone ““ crushing grip.

The question, however, of private interests gaining a foothold in political decision ““ making is a crucial one at this time of increased private sector involvement in the public sector. The public sector will not be completely Government ““ funded again; that much is plain. For all the criticism that the third term of the New Labour government has endured, the level of investment in the public sector has grown under their stewardship. In order to achieve what we the public and they the politicians want, however, ever more money and innovation must be pumped into the public services to deliver the results.

This brings private companies and interests into the public sector; and I would like to ask for anyone who truly believes that these private individuals and interests are doing this through the goodness of their hearts to please speak out. Anyone”¦? Anyone”¦? Even at the back? How about the peanut galleries”¦no? Well, then, perhaps the time has come to accept this as a fundamental truth ““ you can bring the private sector organisations into the public services, but this will not take the private sector motivations out of the private sector organisations. Leopards and spots, essentially.

As such, private organisations will seek to influence policy and decisions as best they know how; in the same way that they would outside the public sector, namely by long business lunches and evening entertainments. The list of members” interests is a good start, but really what will be needed is”¦whisper the word”¦lobbying. Yes, lobbying, in a similar fashion to that found in the United States. After all, with increased private involvement in public services such as health and education, theirs is a model to examine. And yes, there will be corruption and unfair practices in this system as well; but at least it will be acknowledged.

No ““ one truly believes in the incorruptibility of anyone in a position of power any longer; so why pretend?

Jethro Marsh

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