Sunday, February 25, 2007

Opinion leaders and natural resources

This lady is an Opinion Leader. That means she "accesses and understands opinion formers, develops innovative, leading-edge solutions, especially in the area of stakeholder dialogue and public involvement, and she writes and broadcasts widely on public opinion, citizen engagement, corporate social responsibility and political polling."

I discovered her existence by following a trail of links starting here, with the BBC news story about "Poor basic skills 'costing firms'". This led me to something called the Leitch Review, which is an independent review of the UK's long term skills needs commissioned by HM Treasury.

Publishing the report, Lord Leitch said:
"In the 19th Century, the UK had the natural resources, the labour force and the inspiration to lead the world into the Industrial Revolution. Today, we are witnessing a different type of revolution. For developed countries that cannot compete on natural resources and low labour costs, success demands a more service-led economy and high value-added industry. In the 21st Century, our natural resource is our people - and their potential is both untapped and vast. Skills are the key to unlocking that potential. The prize for our country will be enormous - higher productivity, the creation of wealth and social justice. Without increased skills, we would condemn ourselves to a lingering decline in competitiveness, diminishing economic growth and a bleaker future for all. The case for action is compelling and urgent. Becoming a world leader on skills will enable the UK to compete with the best in the world. I am optimistic." [My emphasis]

"In the 21st Century, our natural resource is our people.." Like lumps of coal, then, or nuggets of iron to be hewn out of the ground, or forests of trees to be chopped down.
"'Economically valuable skills' must be delivered through a demand-led approach, facilitated by a new culture of learning, and an appetite for improved skills amongst individuals and employers."

It puzzles me how Lord Leitch thinks he can logically demand a "demand-led approach". He seems to be asking the 'natural resource' (-people-) to request more training. But that's not how people work, in my experience. They usually prefer to ascertain their own desires.

.... Don't they?

I picked up a link from the Treasury site to this lecture, by Jenny Watson, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, entitled: The Unfinished Revolution. Ms Watson's lecture is part of a Smith Institute (which, you may recall, is currently the subject of an investigation by the Charity Commission to examine whether its political ties with Gordon Brown breach the rules governing charitable organisations following a complaint from leading political blogger, Guido Fawkes.) and Fabian Society (which features largely in Gatto's Underground History of American Education,) lecture series on 'Reinvigorating Community'."

Ms Watson's lecture sets out a five point plan "to ensure we can complete the revolution – and ensure that how we design society reflects the way we live." The five points of change are as follows:

1. Better support for families (including continuing to invest in childcare provision);
2. Enabling men and women to make their own choices about family life – who works, who cares for the children ;
3. Modernising public services and ensuring they are designed to meet modern needs ;
4. Safer communities ; and
5. Creating a future where women and men share power.

Cynical me translates these as follows:

1. Funding for and implementation of forced intervention in family life;
2. Changing family law to weaken the position of mothers;
3. Increased spending (and employment) in public services;
4. Increased spending, employment and legislation for police.
5. I can't translate this: the background narrative is too vague for me to work out the basis for it. It was possibly added to give some credence to Ms Watson's position as Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, though I think we'd be naïve to think that was all it might mean.

This last thought led me to the website of the Equal Opportunities Commission, to see if I could glean any reasons as to why they share this Treasury-funded policy-formulating platform with the Smith Institute and the Fabian Society, and to this list of EOC Commissioners and their business interests and connections, which is a real eye-opener and includes:

Global Partners and Associates
Advertising Advisory Committee
Banking Codes Standards Board
Radioactive Waste Management
Lloyds TSB
CBI Equal Opportunities Panel
IPPR Race Equality Taskforce
DfES Childcare Policy
HM Treasury, Public Expenditure dept
10 Downing St.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education
Primary Care Trust, Manchester
British Medical Agency
Dept of Health
Trade Union Council
National Council for One-Parent Families
The Work Foundation
Communication Workers Union
Sector Skills Development Agency
Pension Protection Fund
Fathers Direct
Commission for Social Care Inspection
Opinion Leader Research
The Smart Company
Chime Communications
Green Alliance
Ford Motor Company
BBC Television
Littlewoods PLC
Commission for Racial Equality
National Aids Trust.

The Equal Opportunities Commission sounds so benign on the face of it, doesn't it? The name evokes a caring image of a group that wants everyone to have a fair chance in life. So, (as well as sharing a Treasury-funded policy-formulating platform with the Smith Institute and the Fabian Society,) why do its commissioners need to have their fingers in quite so many pies...?

Back to Deborah Mattinson, EOC Commissioner from March 2002, and founder and joint Chief Executive of Opinion Leader Research, a research and consultation agency. She is also a Non-Executive Director of The Smart Company.

The combined list of clients for Ms Mattinson's two companies is as follows:

The Environment Agency
Department of Health
The South Bank Centre
The Halifax
The Lattice Foundation
Macmillan Cancer Relief
The National Trust
Northern Rock
Zurich Financial Services

- a rogues gallery, you might think. Certainly some of the people in whose vested interests it is to control the deliverance of 'economically valuable skills' through the 'demand-led approach' of the 21st Century's 'natural resource'.

If you ever wonder why some apparently disparate decisions and public opinions seem strangely connected as if the timing is orchestrated to a hidden plan, this might go some way towards an explanation. Opinion leaders are "plugged into the people that really matter," - they are the linking mechanisms of the public and corporate machines. Their job is to tell us what to think.

They really believe we've been successfully dumbed down to the extent that we can't actually decide anything for ourselves any more and need to have our opinions cooked up by their clients and spoon-fed to us through the supposedly impartial BBC and other media.

We don't need that. We don't need their education, their drug industry, their oil industry, their medical industry (I was reading the other day about the productivity of hospitals and health care trusts. What do they produce, exactly?) or their Not-for-profit Organisations. (Of course they make a profit! York Consulting has just been paid £38,582.50 for a piece of research about home education which involved several phone calls and some writing up. Our own Mike Fortune-Wood produced a much more comprehensive version of the same kind of research for £5,000.)

We are being sold a dream, by compulsory purchase order. It's a dream of safe suburban living, in which everything is predictable and nobody has to think. We're all kept nicely busy, conditioned, monitored and emotionally detached from our families and we're taken care of by paternally benevolent organisations who genuinely care for our individual well-being.

In actual fact, the dream is a nightmare. The people in charge do not care: In fact they see us as natural resources, to be farmed by them.

We really need to wake up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hardly ever agree with you or what you write. Miracles do happen. Today agreed. :o)

2:26 pm, February 25, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL, this post is entirely in keeping with my political views as expressed everywhere else, but erm, thanks! I think.. ^^

3:23 pm, February 25, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Gill, did you go and have a look at Fathers Direct?

You should, it is quite surreal. I saw a link to "Men's Advice Line. Bet you didn't know that the only problem men have in DFES World is being abused by their partners.

7:52 pm, February 25, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ohh yes I see now...
here's that legislation to weaken the position of mothers then :-/

Definitely is surreal. Gonna have a good poke around here. What a nice way to spend a Sunday evening *rubs hands together* ^^

8:46 pm, February 25, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

I am beginning to think that there is a kind of parallel reality, DFES World, which operates on completely different physical laws......

I will look forward to the travelogue of your journey there. :)

12:50 am, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Paula said...

Red pill makes feel physically sick at times...

7:17 pm, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

I just googled that to remind myself Paula:

Morpheus says to Neo "You have to understand that many people are not ready to be unplugged, and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it."

Gatto, writing pre-Matrix I think, also asserts the view that it's systems we're up against - not people.

7:31 pm, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

I had a look around Fathers Direct Tim and as well as being surreal it's actually rubbish isn't it? I'm glad I'm not a dad in need of help and advice being directed to that site for it, because I can't see any evidence of either anywhere there, just repeated links to the parentline plus phone number. It looks very busy, but there's not real substance to it. Are they really trying, or just pretending, I wonder?

8:00 pm, February 26, 2007  

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