Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Government? a View on Cameron Speech to TED

What is obvious about David Cameron's speech in his articulation of the 'next age of government' is the apparent need for the modernization of government and greater transparency with the state loosening it long held grip on information with regards to citizens. Cameron's talk of the need of the state to devolve power to citizens which may be favored by many advocates of the freedom of information, but Cameron plans in realizing his ambitions of devolving power from state to citizens is a cause for concern for many. commentators in the media and the labour party see his grand ideas regarding the state of the power relationship between state and citizens are seen as cover for this ideological ambitions of rolling back the state with key services such as health and education are partially or wholly privatized. most of the fears held by political opponents of Cameron's ambitions have been confirmed with the recent release of the comprehensive spending review laden with cuts to government spending in various areas health education and defence. on speaking about accountability in his TED speech, Cameron talked of public services being held to account by the use of technology open to the citizens however a simple use of reason should reveal that while transparency can help keep the government to account, what the government can actually do to solve problems are hampered by the use of market forces to fund or run public services. what comprises the 'Big Society' articulated Cameron and his supporters is not so much the empowerment of the citizen but the continuing trend of governments ceding responsibilities in it's purview, mostly to the market and private individuals. with this process, the idea of service with regard to people who use them is replaced by,  in the context of public services , an often pernicious  market logic predicated on costs and efficiency where price takes precedence over need. this is not to argue against the use of market logic as the laws of the market are useful in allocating resources such as Barbie and Ken playhouses but not deciding who gets a triple bypass.In sum David Cameron articulation of the 'new age of government' is really the continuation of trend in which government cede power to market forces and private individuals thereby creating the contradiction of making this transparent to it's victims (majority of citizens) in reduce the accountability of the state to the citizen.                      

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