Saturday, July 12, 2008

Basildon Labour isn't Diverse

Last Thursday there was Member training on Inclusion and Diversity at Basildon Council. This was for Councillors of all parties, both District and Parish, to hear about the Council's diversity agenda from the officers with that responsibility. Now, Councils have often got themselves into all sorts of trouble with diversity and inclusion, ending up with crazy, politically-correct, policies that seek to promote inclusion by excluding mainstream British culture. The acme of such an approach was probably the old Labour administration on Birmingham City Council cancelling Christmas one year in case in offended Turkeys or something. Obviously, we are not going to do anything bonkers like that. Diversity policy should be all about delivering better service to everyone, not bigging up one community at the expense of another. The FTSE 100 company I work for knows all about that, running an independently commended diversity policy because it is the right thing to do but, crucially, because delivering better service to everyone makes good business sense. So it also goes in the public sector.

Anyway, there we all were, hearing from our recently appointed Inclusion and Diversity Manager on the way we will be taking that agenda forward. It took us a while to make this particular appointment because we were very keen to make sure that we had the right person for the job. A couple of tries at the market had yielded a very poor field and we did not appoint as a result, and the Labour party criticised us for that. However, we have a policy at Basildon in that we will give people jobs just to tick a box. People have to be up to our high standards or we do not hire them. Given their previous interest you would have thought that this meeting would have been well-attended by Labour members, but you would have been wrong. Only one party on Basildon District Council was present, and that was the Conservative Party.

Perhaps, this will be the end of pious lectures on the subject from Labour. Maybe pigs will fly.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Brown tells us not waste food, and to wash hands after going to the toilet

Gordon Brown has decided to lecture me not to waste food. This is good advice if he was my mum, but actually he isn't and while there is nothing wrong with what he said, there is plenty wrong with the fact that with everything else going on he felt the need to say it. It is not the job of the Prime Minister to attempt to micromanage the habits of the nation and to even attempt to do so shows an astonishing level of detachment from reality and a disturbing level of control-freakery. Hang on though; what if there is some serious policy reason why this should suddenly leap to the top of the political priority tree? We have heard the portentous phrase 'Food Security' for example. Maybe we shouldn't be wasting food because one day there might be a shortage? Or is it that wasting all of this food means a vast environmental footprint? Unfortunately for Brown it's a big no to both. Most of our food is either home-grown or comes from the EU. So excepting a general European war we are probably all right. As for the wasted energy, all of those uneaten chips don't add up to much when compared with UK energy consumption. What is important is not Food Security; it is Energy Security, because food production is essentially the process of turning energy into foodstuffs. So, rising energy prices mean that food costs more in the UK, and it means that people in the poorest countries starve. Gordon Brown is, if you remember, the man who raised taxes on North Sea oil exploration and the man whose government prevaricated on Nuclear power for a decade. So, if we have a problem with energy security then he has contributed to it, and if that means a problem with food security then he should have joined the dots some time ago.

So, don't try to make out it is my fault if I don't clean my plate.