Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cameron's big idea - meat on the bones?

There has been a huge amount of shock and awe coverage about Manchester's broken society. Ian Duncan Smith's report into the divides in Manchester make for provocative reading and listening, here, here and here. I heard some rubbish being spoken on Radio 5 this morning.

Ian Duncan Smith had concluded: "Manchester is one of the greatest cities in the UK and its economic rebirth over the last 15 years in enriching the lives of many of its two million citizens.

"But many others are being left behind. On just about every measure of social breakdown Manchester scores far worse than the national average and other big cities."

I quite like Jonathan Schofield's take on things on Manchester Confidential, here. But he still tries to gloss over the point about social breakdown. Manchester is an example. Not the only one, but an acute one.

He points out quite rightly that the actual Manchester city council area is a small part of "greater Manchester". Still, the core point that places like Moss Side are not enjoying any of the great economic benefits of the city centre is a quick soundbite, yet based on a truism.

The main point about all this, however, is an entree into David Cameron's announcement today about the need for a mutualised education system, a Conservative Co-operative Movement, which he has launched in Manchester today, full speech is here.

It is strange indeed that a Tory leader can attack Labour for leaving bits of the country behind, but there is something exciting in using the energy and skills of private sector management to run public services better. The social business model has turned into a movement the parties are seeking to colonise, yet in many cases they are just charities, or subsidised businesses with plenty of waste and poor outcomes. It's a fashionable bandwagon, but is it one that will stand up to scrutiny?

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