LettersMixedopinionsonEricPicklesandastrong argument for job-sharing are among your letters this month
Letter of themonthwins a copy of DeborahMattinson’s newbookTalkingtoaBrickWall
Job share MPs? Claire Perry’s analysis (TP, Aug) of why there is “a dearth of womenintheHouse of Commons”isspoton. Inmost families, it is still womenwhohave primary caring responsibility for children, so the political work/life juggle is stacked against them.
According to aCentre for Policy Studies report, while amajority ofmothers with children at home want to work, only 12 per cent want to work full time. Failing to offer apart-time workingmodel at Westminster therefore potentially writes off 88per cent of womeninthe child-rearing phase of their lives.
The irony is that while politicians bristle at changes to their working practices, they have legislated to mandateflexible working in other people’s workplaces. If we really want morewomeninpolitics, politics must evolve to fitwomen’s lives. Wenow have job-share chief executives, jobshare lawyers, doctors, journalists, teachers, civil servants and diplomats… whynot job-share MPs? Dinti Batstone Vice-Chair, Campaign for Gender Balance Liberal Democrats
Yes Minister Pickles Iain Dale’s interview with communities secretary Eric Pickles was fascinating. Gradually the message is getting through in central and local government that Pickles actually meanswhathe says –not least about localism.
His account of the reaction to scrapping the Comprehensive Area Assessment wasworthy of a Civil servant: replace it with what? Pickles: Civil servant: things dowewantlocal authorities of aYesMinister sketch. Civil servant: Youwant to replace it with what? Pickles: Nothing. Civil servant: Yes, okay. Butwhat things dowewantlocal authorities to be judged on?What’s the regime? Pickles: Nothing. Civil servant: So just to be clear secretary of state, whenyousay nothing, whatdoyoumean? Pickles: Nothing. Imean nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s pointless. It doesn’t doanything. It doesn’t get abin emptied...
But for some in local government the process will take some adjustment. It will be like prisoners trying to adjust to life outside. Some council officers have got used to being told what to dobyWhitehall in the most extraordinary details. Nowthey will adjust to thinking for themselves rather than being told to conform to a standardised model. The tyranny of sameness is being ended. Spending transparency and local referendums meanthat councillors will bemore accountable to their residents –not to the Department for Communities andLocal Government. Cllr Harry Phibbs Hammersmith and Fulham Council Local government editor, ConservativeHome
People power As somebodywhohasbeen a committed localist since before it was fashionable to be a localist, I admit to be very enthusiastic about Eric Pickle’s approach in his newrole. I have heard that there are councils in the country that aren’t on the samepageordon’t quite ‘get’ what this is all about. Perhaps they think it’s just a temporary thing? A fad?
Well, I hope andbelieve there’s nothing temporary about it. This is a true sea change in local politics and,while I can’t speak for others, I have seen only enthusiasm frommy colleagues at Cambridgeshire County Council and excitement about the challenges ahead in delivering what I can only call a localism revolution.
“With great power comesgreat responsibility,” one of Stan Lee’s characters once said. Individuals at every tier mustunderstand that as power comesdown,sodoes responsibility. It’s refreshing to see powermovingcloser to the people – where it belongs. Big Society indeed! Cllr Steve Tierney Cambridgeshire County Council
Welcome to the real world Eric Pickles maytechnically havebeen “clean” in terms of whatwas then
TotalPolitics is giving one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to see the play Yes,Prime
Minister Gielgud Theatre, which redeemed on MondayThursday evening performances between 16 September and 28 October, 2010. Subject
Ministerat the Gielgud Theatre, which can be redeemed on MondayThursday evening performances between 16 September and 28 October, 2010. Subject to availability.
How to enter Simply email your caption to competition@totalpolitics. com with your name and address before 06/09/2010.
Entries submitted after the closing date will not count.
Last month’s winner “Medvedev erupted with laughter when he realised Obama was paying with the last note from the Federal Reserve.” Lizzie Rankin
A pair of tickets to see Danton’sDeathare on their way to you.
4 | Total Politics | September 2010