Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Get those digits dialling!

Brightening up my Sunday another example of the genre. Thick with "Only Don't Connects" and with the "Errant Filofax" – surely Nick is going to want to write something about ID cards and the database state before the spring thaws, in which context this bit of scaremongering will look a bit uncomfortable. And of course, the creeping thick black mist of Melanie Philips, the nutters and deviates stalking our streets and our government does nothing! Cthulu f'taughn!

But the most obvious theme of this week's col is the good old "chair which bears the impression of the last arse to have sat on it". Nick is ranting up a storm (and I am commenting interstitially):

"The government plans to abolish the probation service."

Does it? Does it really? That would seem to be quite a step change and perhaps something that might have attracted quite a little bit of comment.

" In its place will be a phoney market where private companies and religious charities will bid against existing staff for contracts to supervise criminals."

Christ, that would be a very radical departure and something that really hasn't been tried at all anywhere else except maybe the BBC. I would certainly be worried about that.

" Much the same privatisation process threatens the unity of the National Health Service"

Oh … hang on … so in other words the probation service hasn't been abolished at all, any more than the NHS has. Right. What's happening is that probation boards are being abolished, to be replaced with probation trusts, which then commission probations from either the probation service or from Group 4. Seems like a fairly fucking silly idea to me, but it isn't, factually, the much dafter proposal Nick was talking about. I suppose that Charlie Clarke would even argue that it might free up the probation service's time to deal with the actually dangerous villains while letting Group 4 and Tesco take over the soul-sapping Little Britain vignettes of dealing with the million and one ASBO offenders coming their way.

See, after having yukked it up with John Lloyd over the evils of the British media and how they never give Tony a fair crack o'the whip, Nick immediately does the same thing himself; he's not Good Tony the Defender Of the Oppressed this week, he's That Bastard Blair. And the reason's quite clear; Harry Fletcher of the probation officers' union got through to him on the phone. It's like a local radio DJ; lucky seventh caller gets a fierce polemic written about their particular issue of concern in the Sunday papers. If you see an item in next week's Observer about the scandalous price of balsamic vinegar these days, you'll know my number's come up.


Post a Comment

<< Home