Doesn’t anyone spot what Gordon Brown is really up to? The great Peter Riddell isn’t convinced that he has altered the Blair reform agenda, and thinks that “changes are at the margins”. Well, you could say that. If you snap the brake cable of a car, change is at the margins – but the consequences will be rather profound. Brown has ingeniously sabotaged the City Academy programme, keeping the name but ensuring new ones will be indistinguishable from existing schools. Meanwhile the NHS establishment is freezing out (or, as happened yesterday, just sacking) independent healthcare providers. They will now never get the critical mass they need. The CBI says it is “alarmed by this shift into neutral”.
To me, it seems that Brown has found the “reverse gear” which Blair famously claimed to lack, and is crushing what little Blair managed to achieve. We’re witnessing a full-on Brownite counter-revolution here, as Reform has clearly documented. Normally clear-sighted commentators still don’t get it – the only person to really notice is the peerless Nick Timmins from the Financial Times. The cause of public service reform is being put back by 15 years. This is the most important development since Blair left. And we’ll all be the poorer for it.