Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gordon Loses the Plot with New Internet Strategy

It's Gordon's new 'Big Idea', "Tens of thousands of public sector jobs could be scrapped in Jobcentres, passport centres and town halls as a result of the plans, which the government says will save £4 billion over four years.

The government wants everybody in the country to have a personalised website within a year and this clearly shows how out of touch they are with some simple realities of our internet society.

Having been around at the very beginning of UK Online, delivering on Tony Blair's 1998 vision through the Office of the e-Envoy, what Government is forgetting are two essential facts of life in our newly joined-up society.

The first is that 'Broadband Britain' only exists for those people who are lucky enough to live close to an exchange and even here in Thanet, out in the villages, it remains a challenge which has still to be resolved. The second and perhaps more important point that we've always known about, is that the poorer and more deprived you are, the less likely you are to be digitally enfranchised. This is particularly true of those who need benefits most, such as single mothers, the very elderly and so on. I think I wrote about this in The Observer newspaper some years ago – look it up if you like – but at the time, we agreed in Government that some 30% of the population were pretty much unreachable and we didn't know how to solve the problem of universal access.

I could go on but I really don't understand what Labour is on about here, by creating a whole new Cabinet Office unit to be run by Martha Lane Fox of 'Last ' fame. From my point of view, it's 'pie in the sky' and worse still, simply rolling out the capability will cost £billions because of the squabble over who pays to join-up the UK population with fibre; the last mile argument!

Almost as bright today is the announcement that Labour will give the vote to 16-year olds if they win the election. Now why would they do such a thing in this 'Little Britain' they've created for us over the last decade? Very simply I suspect, because of demographic profile, which shows that the younger generation is more likely to vote Labour by virtue of population changes and a benefits dependant culture, in large parts of the country. Perhaps I'm being over cynical but the motive sounds about right to me.


Anonymous said...

I'll have a little wager with you that the Conservatives will be responsible for far more jobs going in the public sector than if Labour stay on. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but just making the comment that the Conservatives will cull much much deeper.

DrM. said...

You may be right. When I started at the Cabinet Office the aim was to lose over 80,000 civil servants through the introduction of new technology. Instead, government took on a further 300,000!

Will the last smoking or diversity awareness officer please turn out the lights!

Anonymous said...

By the time that everyone in UK has their own personalised web site you would need a ouija board to read my posts.

Anyone one else seen that ID cards will have to be changed to version 2 by 2012 and Meg Hillier (ID minister) has called for businesses to come up with apps and ideas for using the cards.

Call me Infidel said...

Anon 6pm I hope you are right. Let me give you a couple of examples of the over manning that has characterized Blair's Britain. In 1988 I worked for a Civil Service department. The office employed I would guess around fifty people. This included two top grade HEO's and a mix of EO, AO and AA grades.

I worked for a different department in 2007 and at that time in my office there were approximately thirty staff. Of these there was one SEO grade, seven HEO grades and a mix of EO and AO grades.

When I joined that organisation in 2001 there were in the district nine senior managers. When I left in 2008 there were twenty five. Yet the actual work had in fact halved at least.

I don't like to see people sacked unnecessarily but the scale of overmanning in the Civil Service under Labour is scandalous. Another five years of Labour will be the end of Britain if it isn't broken beyond repair already.