Public services without government?

28 July 2011

A picture tells a thousand words about the Government’s philosophy of public service reform

Two weeks ago, David Cameron set out his vision for public service reform in the Open Public Services White Paper. Let’s see how the language of the paper compares to previous white papers from Tony Blair (2006) and Gordon Brown (2008).

Figure 1: 2006 The Government’s Approach to Public Service Reform

Figure 1: 2006 The Government’s Approach to Public Service Reform

Figure 2: 2008 Excellence and Fairness

Figure 2: 2008 Excellence and Fairness

Figure 3: 2011 Open Public Services White Paper

Figure 3: 2011 Open Public Services White Paper

Such things can be over-interpreted – but they are certainly interesting. Here are just three things that are striking to us:

  1. ‘Government’ appears less prominently in 2011
  2. ‘Providers’ get plenty of mentions in this week’s paper – and there are far fewer mentions of ‘professions’, which featured prominently in Gordon Brown’s 2008 vision
  3. Terms like ‘delivery’, ‘strategy’ and ‘performance’ have all but died out

Feel free to comment with your own observations!

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One Response

  1. David Bolger on 2 August 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Just wanted to check: is the cover artwork the original for each publication, or the Institute’s interpretation? If the former, how interesting that 3 changes in political leadership made no difference to the symbols. Tells you who’s really in charge, and why reform can’t be in the hands of those who need to be reformed. And yes, I am a bit cynical about ‘public service reform’.

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