Magazine article Public Finance

The Real Casualty

Magazine article Public Finance

The Real Casualty

Article excerpt

Trust - or rather, the lack of it - has been the leitmotif of this election.

The public, particularly after Iraq, no longer trusts politicians. Politicians - carefully choreographed appearances aside - do not trust each other. No one trusts the media or political pundits.

And it gets worse. Despite high levels of confidence in doctors, teachers and other employees, Lrust in public services as a whole is at a low ebb.

This undoubtedly has something to do with a general decline in deference towards authority, in itself no bad thing.

But major public service scandals, detailed by the Alder Hey, Victoria Climbié and Soham inquiries (see cover feature, p16), have also taken their toll. Sir Michael Bichard, head of the Soham inquiry, believes that service providers have 'forfeited' the publics trust by failing to take responsibility in such cases.

There is another issue though, one that has come to the fore in the election campaign. For all their focus groups, Big Conversations and 'masochism' strategies, politicians still seem desperately out of touch with the concerns of ordinary mortals.

How else to explain Tony Blairs toe-curling moment on BBCl s Question Time, when he claimed to be astonished' at the perverse effect of 48-hour waiting time targets on people's ability to get a GP appointment? …

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