Bureaucracy, Communism and New Labour

Joseph Stalin in 1934, quoted here:

Bureaucracy and red tape in the administrative apparatus; idle chatter about “leadership in general” instead of real and concrete leadership; the functional structure of our organizations and lack of individual responsibility; lack of personal responsibility in work, and wage equalization; the absence of a systematic check upon the fulfillment of decisions; fear of self-criticism — these are the sources of our difficulties; this is where our difficulties are now lodged.

Miserably familiar stuff, but from the introduction on trotsky.net:

Stalin and his regime represented the interests of this bureaucracy. But in order to consolidate their control over society this bureaucracy had to eliminate the genuine traditions of Bolshevism. Thus the struggle between Stalin’s faction and the Left Opposition, led by Trotsky, was a struggle between the genuine representatives of the working class and the up-and-coming bureaucratic elite.

So here is a preposterous conflict between two enemies of bureaucracy, one a monster and the other a bungling thinker. Yet Trotsky influenced Tony Blair and Alistair Darling:

So far as [former Scottish Labour Party boss Bob Thompson] was concerned, Alistair Darling had gone from Trotskyist to New Labour overnight.

Perhaps we see where Blair’s disastrous “sofa government” originated: in the ideas of Trotsky, a passionate but feeble communist intellectual.

Now, according to David Cameron:

The attitude that has done so much damage is the belief that the only thing that matters when it comes to policy and administration is economic value – that social value doesn’t matter.

So for the last decade or so, in the name of modernisation, rationalisation and efficiency we have been living under a regime of government by management consultant and policy by powerpoint.

The result has not been a contented, streamlined nation humming with efficiency and gleaming with modernity.

The result has been an explosion of bureaucracy, cost and irritation, endless upheavals and pointless reorganisations, the elbowing aside of colourful, human, informal relationships based on common sense and trust in favour of the grey, mechanical, joyless mantras of the master planner with his calculations, projections and impact assessments.

The real world effect of all this? Post Office closures, library closures, police station closures, the closure of small shops, small schools and now GP surgeries under threat. All this because we live under a regime that prizes bureaucratic neatness above all else.

Bureaucracy is never welcome but centralised socialist policies make its growth inevitable. However they may state their good intentions, Labour’s top-down policies will always embed monstrous episodes like this:

In August, I got a letter from one of my constituents, John Woods. His wife was taken to hospital. She caught MRSA and she died. Some of the incidents described are so dreadful, and so degrading, that I can’t read you most of the letter. He says the treatment his wife received “was like something out of a 17th century asylum not a 21st century £90 billion health service.” And then, as his wife’s life was coming to end, he remembers her “sitting on the edge of her bed in distress and saying ‘I never thought it would be like this’.” I sent the letter to Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary.

This was his reply.

“A complaints procedure has been established for the NHS to resolve concerns…

“Each hospital and Primary Care Trust has a Patient Advice and Liaison Service to support people who wish to make a complaint…

“There is also an Independent Complaints Advocacy Service…

“If, when Mr Woods has received a response, he remains dissatisfied, it is open to him to approach the Healthcare Commission and seek an independent review of his complaint and local organisation’s response…

“Once the Health Care Commission has investigated the case he can approach the Health Service Ombudsman if he remains dissatisfied….”

A Healthcare Commission. A Health Service Ombudsman. A Patient Advice and Liaison Service. An Independent Complaints Advocacy Service. Four ways to make a complaint but not one way for my constituent’s wife to die with dignity. We need to change all that.

Good intentions are never enough. Documented processes do not guarantee humanitarian outcomes. Vote for practical, effective governance, which doesn’t just promise local power, but which will make it a reality. Vote Conservative.

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