Wednesday, July 06, 2005

When Can We Get Started?

I've just re-read DD's speech to the Centre For Policy Studies on Monday. It reads even better the second time around.

The really exciting thing about it is that combination of normal everyday language with strong underlying substance. Take this bit:

'Opening up government monopolies would allow the independent and voluntary sectors to offer services to the many, rather than the privileged few. Putting the State's spending power in the hands of patients and parents would give them unprecedented control. The natural forces of competition would drive up standards.'

There are those who argue that people don't want more choices: they just want better services. Some of the other leadership contenders follow that line.

But that just leads to a load of vacuous pieties about how we can manage stuff better than Labour. Yet we know that managerialism has failed, and we underestimate the voters if we think they can't grasp that. Competition and choice are the only way forward, and we will gain credibility if we consistently stick to that message.

As for people not wanting to be choosers, the great thing about choice and competition is that it actually only takes a few customers to be active chooser/switchers to have the desired effect on service standards for all. Over recent months a few thousand customers have switched from Asda to Sainsburys. The Asda management has immediately jumped to attention and taken the kind of action public sector monopolies wouldn't dream of taking in fifty years. So all their customers can now look forward to an improvement in standards- even those who never even considered switching.

But you see, there I go again- drilling down into far too much 'stuff' for most people.

One of the key skills of leadership is to put across substantive ideas in simple language. The ability to convey the substance, without befuddling everyone with too much detail.

Davis has that skill, and the sooner he is shaping our overall message, the better.


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