Monday 14 July 2008

Close encounters of an animal kind , and the TUC

It was a strange day. Sorting issues with my Chief Executive at FBE , lunch with Ben Wittenburg of the Directory of Social Change , a meeting of the Board of Rockpools (the search consultancy )and then off to the TUC for the Public Service Forum .My lunch with Ben of the DSC was by way of recompense for attacking a letter he wrote in "Third Sector" , so clearly we began with a glass of champagne . But note only a glass ; I wouldn't want the staff at DSC talking! A useful exchange on public service delivery and its value . They have serious worries about impact on ground in poor funding and contracts . They are right to highlight this , but I believe it comes across as too much of a whinge.

But the day started well with a rather spot on editorial in The Times . This castigates David Cameron for suggesting we have a " broken Society " . As they say there is usually a spokesman for such a view in each generation . The Roman poet Juvenal argued the same 2000 years ago ; muggings in the street,women engaged in traditionally male sport and men marrying men convinced him the social fabric was tearing .

The Met recorded 70 stabbings last year , about the same as a decade ago . It is true there are serious problems in many of our deprived communities and with excluded people. But this has always been so . Yet there has rarely been a time when living standards generally have been as strong , we have lived as long or as healthily and society been as tolerant of difference or cared as much for the sick and disabled.That is not broken , But yet there are serious problems that have to be tackled . And the Tories are right to look at a major role for the sector in doing this.

I seem to recall the Government saying one of their reasons for pursuing 42 days was that they wanted to debate this at a time when there can be reasoned argument as opposed to rushing in emergency legislation on the back of a terrorist atrocity . So how come we now have Government rushing to do "something " on stabbings. And the pre leaks all seem to be going wrong . This is crucial ground for our sector . Will they announce an emergency package of long term funding for the third sector to tackle "the causes of crime " ? Somehow I doubt it . It doesn't pass the " Daily Mail test" ,so better a short term headline than a longer term plan .I may be unfair , as we shall see tomorrow the action plan they will unveil . And Jackie Smith has been right to stress that putting yet more people in prison will not solve the problem in the long term problem.

But back to the Public Services Forum at the TUC . This is something that was set up by the Government as a result of the " Warwick Agreement ". It used to be just a Forum for the private sector and the Unions but we argued successfully for the third sector to be represented. So acevo and ncvo are now on the Forum ( the excellent Liz Atkins attends ).

Today they had Ed Miliband to talk on world class public services .Ed had a rather good interview in the Guardian at the weekend .We should hear more from Ed ; he is a real star of the current cabinet . Out from the shadows Ed! But public services is the cue for major grumbles and whinges.They denounce the fantastic BERR report from DeAnne Julius launched last week . I accept that the unions have an entirely valid viewpoint on public services being delivered by the public sector and their opposition to privatisation .They are right to battle for the best terms for their members. The problem is when they then extend that to oppose delivery through the Third Sector or imply that what matters is who delivers the service rather than what citizen's want. And that then gets in the way of campaigning for better terms for all staff employed in delivery of services. My members know that they can only deliver top class service to clients through great staff . And employment relations are key to that,so many of my members are very happy to work with the unions and want to encourage better relations .

I present the report that acevo commissioned from Nita Clarke on union and third sector relations . This underlines the need to make progress on relationships and makes a range of sound recommendations . I wish I could report a long debate and a strong endorsement of the report but it was a polite response from Brendan Barber (TUC general Secretary ). Still I guess it wasn't an outright rejection so we can move it on . I am speaking at the launch of the Joint statement on skills and union recognition tomorrow at No 10.I have already arranged to send to all my 2200 members with a recommendation to look at how it is implemented for them in their own circumstances. And tonight The Times phone me for a quote on the document .

i arrive home to a sweet email from my nephew Julian ( the hearty one at Keble College , rather than the poet at Christ Church). He is currently on an internship at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. He has just been climbing Mt Washington ; the highest peak in NE America . But with a canoe so that he and friends could take it onto the Lake of the Clouds . Though as he observed , " I can't help thinking that it would have been a far more noble endeavour to carry something that was not merely unwieldy but also of no practical use - a grand piano, for instance. " Clearly demonstrating an admirably eccentric streak that would do his Uncle proud!

The weekend was not as usual devoted to my blackberry or blogging . The new arrival seems to have taken over . Puppies require rather a lot of attention I am discovering! Saturday was barbecue time . Now I realise the weather was not entirely conducive to such activity but I'm British so as I had planned such I was blowed if I was not going to have such . So sitting in my Courtyard with Sparkles and barbecue I suddenly realise that Sparkles has had a close encounter with a Toad ! Mr Toad has lived in my courtyard for about 5 years . I'm not sure who was more surprised , but I thought before my Jack Russell decided it was a toy to be grasped firmly between the jaws I better intervene.

No comments: