Thursday, 11 April 2013

Would the panel bring 'Your Choice Barnet' back in-house?

Yes, I'm still here, haven't shuffled off this mortal coil yet - sorry, is that in poor taste?

I'm in good health but I keep having flashbacks of West End doorways crammed with the bodies of the homeless - even as far as the door of the Ritz Hotel. Oh, I forget, that was the early 1990s and the logic of Margaret Thatcher's policies of decimating industry, removing Income Support from 16- and 17-year-olds and closing the old mental asylums was working itself through.

The world's nothing like that now, of course. We're many years further into the neoliberal reforms pursued by the erstwhile MP for Finchley. Reforms such as the financial "Big Bang" - liberalisation and deregulation of the City. See how well that worked out!

This evening a special edition of "Question Time" will be recorded in Finchley; I expect they always planned to come here when Margaret Thatcher died. Lucky she did it in the Easter hols, then, and they can take over Finchley Catholic High School for a couple of days.

Despite the best efforts of local newspaper journalists to find Barnet Tories who remembered Thatcher's days here, and had a kind word to say about her, the choice of Finchley for this special - if you like, "commemorative" - QT feels oddly beside-the-point. The world, including Finchley, has moved on. Never mind, here comes the caravan.

For the past couple of days we have been lost in a sort of misty blue nostalgia-fest where only the good side of being a hard-faced, ultra-right winger espousing rampant individualism has been considered. On a personal level it might have been depressing if I had watched the television or read a newspaper, but I've managed to avoid all of them.

I don't have a ticket for tomorrow night's QT either, although I did dutifully apply for one. I hope that some of my fellow campaigners have had more luck and that we will see one or two familiar faces in the audience. I can already predict some of the questions:
  • Does the panel think that MT was the greatest PM of the 20th Century/ever?
  • Does the panel think that the public should pay for MT's funeral?
  • Does the panel think the Queen is wrong to attend MT's funeral?
  • What does the panel think is MT's greatest contribution to politics?
  • How many years does the panel think Glenda Jackson should spend incarcerated in the Tower of London for daring to say publicly what others have thought privately?
I have my own answers to these questions which you can probably guess at. I only hope that someone - on the panel or in the audience - has the guts to criticise Thatcher's works and her legacy, which we are well and truly living with and suffering from today, in Barnet as much as anywhere.

Indeed, tonight I'll be a few yards up the road from QT, in North Finchley at the Greek Cypriot Community Centre, Britannia Road, N12, where from 7-9pm the Barnet Alliance has a public meeting to explain why we want Barnet Council to bring 'Your Choice Barnet' back in-house.

This outsourced service providing support to disabled adults was supposed, believe it or not, to generate a surplus. It isn't, it is losing money and is having to be bailed out. Worse, in order to make the books balance, the management want to cut staff pay, and to reduce the quality of the service. All of this is a scandal and of a piece with the privatising, cutting agenda that Thatcher instigated and that her political heirs among the Barnet Tories are continuing.

Speakers at the meeting include John Sullivan, parent-carer of a user of the 'Your Choice' centre.

Please join us if you can at this important meeting, and please sign our petition on the Barnet Council website. You can find more details about the meeting here.


Anonymous said...

Just to say that Finchley Catholic High school are not on Easter holidays - the school is fully open this week.

Citizen Barnet said...

Thanks. Fact-check fail.