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The Genius of the ATU Dismay Template

July 16, 2015

I was just watching a debate in the House of Commons. An hour later, I can’t even remember what they were discussing but it was probably something like a review of the review into the levels of Bovril on Bovril crisps. The pattern is always the same. The Minister for Crisps will give the House an update on the progress of the review. The Shadow Minister for Crisps will express his dismay at the slow speed of progress of the review. The Minister for Crisps will remind the Shadow Minister for Crisps that under the previous Government, levels of Bovril went down to their lowest since 1937. Then a back bench minister from the Minister’s side will thank the Minister for the progress made and ask whether his constituents in Newport Pagnellshire can be reassured that the review will reach a conclusion by 2017. The Minister for Crisps delivers that reassurance whilst exchanging a pithy joke about the regions relationship with Bovril. And it will all end with everyone calling for a taskforce/concordat/vanguard to be set up to look into why the progress has been great but very slow. The taskforce/concordat/vanguards will report back in 2019.

Sounds familiar? It is the exact same format used whenever the thorny subject of Post Winterbourne comes up. On Tuesday, Sir Stephen Bubb published his 6 month review of his review. In one breath he declared dismay at the slow progress of change and two seconds later, he congratulated Simon Stevens on the considerable progress made so far. Then, bang on cue, some charity leaders chip in with exactly the same sentiments of dismay and gratitude. The media report on the matter. They start with a headline of the pitifulness of the slow progress and then interview an NHS or DoH bod about the remarkable progress they’ve already made. They then urge us to stand by our TVs for the review of the review of the review in six months time.

It’s absolute genius. It’s beyond challenge. In bemoaning the lack of progress whilst celebrating the progress made, you cover everything. There is nowhere for any challenger to go. All bases have been covered.

It’s also endemic. It is everywhere. It’s a template that fits every political/social/psychological dilemma.

Nobody who has signed up for the template are too bothered about change. Slow progress is to be encouraged – it enables their important work to continue until hell freezes over. The most important thing is to not let the people who have a genuine interest in whatever the issue is, on to the playing field. As Mark Brown pointed out the other day in his blog, ( from time to time, someone will crash through and wander onto the playing field – a death in an NHS setting, a high profile Court case. But even these are dealt with pretty promptly by the template. And before you know it, the person is ejected from the playing field and the spotlight has moved on to more slow progress/fast progress analyses. Usually, the person is gobbled up and their tragedy is used by the powers that be as the latest version of the template.

Goodness knows how that changes. Progress is remarkably slow.

From → Social Care


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