British Conservatives piloting “budget airline” approach to government

So the US had its first “CEO President” with George Bush and now the Thatcherite Conservatives want to confuse business and government. There’s a reason why nobody talks about the “CEO President” these days because it was a failure. Government is government. Business is business. They’re not the same nor are the goals the same.

Delivering minimal services and asking constituents to pay a premium for anything more is only fair if you have deep pockets. It’s bad enough that big business maintains too much control over government but in the minds of the Thatcherites, regular people ought to be pushed aside even more. It sounds a lot like “compassionate conservatism” which was anything but compassionate. How could anyone possibly think this is a good idea?

A leading Conservative council is using the business model of budget airlines, Ryanair and easyJet, to inspire a radical reform of public service provision which is being seen as a blueprint for Tory government.

The practices of the no-frills airlines, who charge customers extra for services which were once considered part of the standard fare, are being emulated by the London borough of Barnet as it embarks on “a relentless drive for efficiency”. A spokesman for the council has unofficially dubbed the project “EasyCouncil”.

Barnet wants householders to pay extra to jump the queue for planning consents, in the way budget airlines charge extra for priority boarding. And as budget airline passengers choose to spend their budget on either flying at peaktime or having an in-flight meal, recipients of adult social care in Barnet will choose to spend a limited budget on whether to have a cleaner or a respite carer or even a holiday to Eastbourne. Other examples of proposed reforms include reducing the size of waste bins to minimise the cost of council rubbish collections.

The proposals are being seen as an example of “new Conservatism” which is spreading among Tory-controlled boroughs. Observers believe “radical outriders” such as Barnet offer a glimpse of how a David Cameron government could overhaul public service provision in an era of heavy spending cuts.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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