When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford – Samuel Johnson
Oh, I love London Society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be. –Oscar Wilde
I was given early sight of a new document issued by the CIPD and now that it’s been released into the wild, I’m allowed to write about it. It is entitled “Opportunity through work – A manifesto for London” and is issued in advance of the Mayoral elections. With the characteristic rigour and detail one has come to expect from the boffins they keep in the back room at CIPD Towers in Wimbledon, it urges the incoming Mayor (whoever that might be) to join them in championing better work and working lives. It is unashamedly London-centric for those very reasons and the CIPD have equally good stuff available on work and working lives in the rest of the country.
The year is 2016. The gleaming metropolis of science fiction wet dreams has yet to materialise. Inequality is on the rise. Between the bailed-out masters of the universe with their erections in Canary Wharf and the care workers on zero hours contracts and the unemployed and disadvantaged. Between the mandarins in the corridors of power and the sick and needy in the corridors of hospitals. Scrutiny is more laser-focused than ever before. The internet and social media allow us to speak truth to power now more than at any time in our history. There are commissions and taskforces. Committees and focus groups. And there are manifestos. And there is inaction.
This CIPD manifesto for London correctly identifies the problems. It highlights the need for a long-term view over short term profitability. It acknowledges there are unknown unknowns. It is well considered and well researched and well-meaning. And so have been many more documents before it. Advice is too easily discounted or discarded. Too easily at the mercy of political expediency. Every Government in history has been elected on manifesto promises that it has then abandoned or revised. The parliamentary cycle is too long (even under the maximium 5 year rule brought in by the coalition) for them to be held to account for broken promises. By the time the next election comes round untold damage has been done.
I don’t doubt for one moment that the CIPD will stand by it’s commitment to this manifesto and to it’s stated mission. But it is more immediately accountable to it’s membership who might withdraw their fees. The people who might most benefit from the ideas put forward in this manifesto do not have that immediacy of power at their disposal. Therefore, if you’re reading this and care about better work and working lives for ALL Londoners, take a long hard look at the candidates running for Mayor and pick the one who is most likely to make that happen. To ensure we don’t have to mind the gap between our expectations and their delivery.
PS – The manifesto also made me giggle. It has the word “bums” in it.