Sunday, March 06, 2011

Tories' hatred of the public sector

There is a good article by Rowan Moore in today's Observer, about Michael Gove's recent attacks on the use of 'award-winning architects' to design schools. As Moore argues:

if environment were irrelevant to learning, then Eton College, the alma mater of many of the present government, would sell its agreeable slab of Berkshire real estate and move to low-cost units in a business park in Slough

Gove's attitude reminds us that even as Cameron et al. try to change the Conservative party's image, many modern Tories just can't help their visceral dislike of the public sector. So local government ministers appear to believe that councils should only employ the least able members of any given profession. And an education minister appears to believe that state-funded schools should be identikit boxes with no attempt to design for site contraints or local context and character.

I can't imagine any Lib Dem minister rubbishing the role of architects in designing schools, as Gove has done. While we recognise that the public sector is far from perfect, has a tendency towards waste and bureaucracy and that such things need to be challenged, we believe that the public sector has an important job to do. So, while there is much we can temporarily agree on with the Tories in reducing the defict, we and they have fundamentally different ways of thinking.

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