Ms Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, junior minister for “equality” (and so singing from a Tory-led coalition song-sheet), is circulating an email.
It is her alternative budget for Haringey.
Malcolm knows full well the officers and elected members of Haringey have been sweating blood on this one for months. Yet Ms Featherstone (qualified from a design course, Oxford Polytechnic) can dash it off in moments. Such is the mark of one truly gifted.
An economic genius writes:
After the statutory blaming of the previous administration (even though her party thought those measures were too moderate), she nails the blame:
Here in Haringey, funding to the Council has been reduced by 7.9% next year. After this reduction, the Council still has £280 million to spend on its priority services in 2011/12.
The weasel words there, of course, are that value judgement: priority services.
She means, in straight terms, Westminster (i.e. Eric Pickles) knows what’s good for all of us. This comprehensively ignores any difference in viewpoint from Ms Featherstone’s well-feathered nest in Highgate to that in South Tottenham.
Hmm: how does that fit with Lib Dem localism?
However, Ms Fetherstone believes this 8% cut is, as she so positively affirms, a welcome change.
Slippery numeracy there (Ah, that Oxford Poly degree!): the actual cut was … wait for it .. 13%. That’s £46 million this year, and £85 million (heavily front-loaded) over the next three years. Perhaps Ms Featherstone’s superior intellect could correct those numbers.
Ms Featherstone’s alternative budget:
In her own words:
But there are other options.
My Liberal Democrat colleagues have alternative proposals that will reverse Labour’s closure of our older people’s day centres, drop-in centres and luncheon clubs, will put £900,000 back into youth services, £700,000 to protect the voluntary sector and £750,000 into tackling crime and worklessness.
Liberal Democrats have chosen instead to tackle the Council’s huge expenditure on IT and senior management with additional savings in council departments’ communications, policy and performance.
- Do for I.T.! Great for a modern operation: let’s reinstate steel-nibs and bring back Bob Cratchit from retirement.
- Yeah: no nine-figure operation needs a senior management. It’ll run itself!
- Communications? As Kingsley Amis pointed out in the ’50s, Thinking? — we leave that to our supervisors. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Many of the valid criticisms (and there have been lots, not least from Ms Featherstone on the stump) of Haringey operations are that information does not flow through the systems.
Of course, Ms Featherstone applies all of these principles to her own operations.
So, for example, in 2008/9 (the most recent year reported by theyworkforyou.com) on top of Ms Featherstone’s office and staffing costs were a smidgeon under £121,000. That’s around twice her salary as an M.P.
Nor does she starve herself and her office of materials. Over three years (2005 to 2008) she needed over £3,300 of computer equipment and (2005 to 2009) close on £36,500 of stationery and postage. That does not, of course, include the famed Featherstone raid on the stationery cupboard (just before it became rationed) when she was ordered to return the £22,000+ of Commons paper she lifted in just one month.
A high-maintenance lady, who seems not to practise what she preaches.