Predictably, the section on the third sector attracts my attention first. Not all of the recommendations here are new, but what really grabs me is the powerful reiteration of the many things the sector has been saying for ages, notably addressing the scandal of irrecoverable VAT and simplifying government funding relationships. Will anybody listen this time?
Tuesday: It's that time of year when you are inundated with invitations to the sector's numerous summer receptions. There is a feeling of a year's work well done being celebrated. Beware! Drinking warm white wine in the company of certain sector 'leaders' whom you would not normally choose to be with, and listening to speeches and bon mots you have heard a dozen times before, is not my idea of celebration. Let our work speak for itself.
Wednesday: It's a week now since Mr Brown's 'pre-Queen's Speech'. In a less-than-full Commons, a nervous Prime Minister set out a list of priorities for the next term. The phrase "affordable housing" was much repeated, but little was said explicitly about social housing and, in particular, homes to rent and physical accessibility. Many beneficiaries I work with don't have or could never hope to attain the assets to enter into shared ownerships. This group of people has a right to live independently and with dignity in decent, accessible housing. Yvette Cooper's housing green paper will be the first real test of the social justice rhetoric of her boss.
Thursday: The bloodletting of the Blair/Brown era now appears to be stemmed by the arrival of a 'new' team of ministers. With a few exceptions, the phrase "old wine in new bottles" seems appropriate. Apart from the familiar faces, we also now have a retired admiral, a practising surgeon who will continue practising and a businessman who refuses to join the party of the government of which he is now a member. Good news on the sector front - Ed Miliband remains on the bridge, ably supported by Phil Hope in the engine room. I predict that Peter Grimes and Billy Budd will be joining the cabinet soon.
Friday: In Chesterfield today to present the Leonard Cheshire Campaigning Service of the Year Award to a group of disabled people who have campaigned to improve shop accessibility. No warm white wine. Powerfully interesting speaker (me). A perfect model for celebration. This is my last My Week column. Thank you for reading. Goodbye - for now.
- John Knight is head of external policy at Leonard Cheshire.