Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Malcolm Burge killed by the machine

An indication that we are moving even closer to the world of Michael Frayn's "A Very Private Life" came with this story. The death of Malcolm Burge will no doubt be used by Labour to attack the "swingeing cuts in the benefits system" and coalition spokesmen will reply with some justification that not only would Labour have applied austerity measures if it had been returned in 2010 but Labour has not shown how it would restore all the cuts it objects to without spinning up another debt spiral.

But to me Mr Burge's desperate end represents something else: a gulf between a government (central and increasingly local) IT-based machine which has no time for people who are temperamentally or by reason of lack of skill unable to communicate technologically.

MPs trumpet their enjoyment of face-to-face campaigning and that they are in touch with their constituents. It is a pity that once they are in power they do not insist that civil servants build in continuing options for personal communication with "service users" (dreadful term, but I suppose it is better than "clients").

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