I was up in Oxford for a few days staying with my nephew Alex who is doing his PhD at Hertford, and I thought it would be fun to pop in. And we had dinner on High table afterwards so had a good natter with both Will and Tessa. As I told Alex I knew Tessa before he was even born!
Will is a great raconteur and brain. We were discussing why Keynes was so out of fashion and agreed that in fact Keynes was right. It is madness for all major economies to deflate and cut spending at the same time. What the UK needs is major investment in growth. What we get is further spending cuts and more unemployment leading to further recession and rising spending on welfare. A self defeating circle of decline.
An interesting few days off. I even discovered an Oxford Church ( St Albans) with Stations of the Cross by Eric Gill; the very last commission he received.
Never really off duty I get an email from the office to see if I want to respond to a loony report from the ineptly named " Institute of Economic Affairs". About sock puppets. Even a primary school class could demolish the inane arguments in their latest pamphlet. Decide can't be arsed to respond to something so silly- and it only encourages them.
I met up with the new Cabinet Secretary on Friday evening. As I said to Jeremy Haywood as he ushered me into his office he is my 4th Cabinet Secretary ; wondering as I did so whether I sounded like the Queen talking about her 11 prime ministers! An urbane, smart and likeable person he holds an important position of influence and I have always found it good to develop strong relations with the top of the civil service. We spent a long time discussing where we have got to on opening up public services and expanding the role of the third sector.
I said we needed to add some vigour to this agenda as the impression has gained ground that it has stalled. ACEVO is working on some ideas and proposals to reignite the battle for sector delivery. The economic and social arguments for more sector delivery are so strong it is hard to understand why this is not expanding at a faster rate.