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Bonfire of the QUANGOS

May 24, 2010

There is much talk of making savings by getting rid of a lot of QUANGOS. There are many QUANGOS in the social care / social work sector and some are likely to go and some be reduced in size and function. According to the Guardian the Children’s Commissioner is on the hit list. Contact Point is to go but so far no news about Cafcass which Teresa May (in 2004), said would be abolished under a Conservative administration, nor about Ofsted. While there is waste and overlap; over management and excessive paperwork in the sector there is also important work being done so the scalpel needs to be applied with precision.

Just a warning note for chief surgeon George Osborne. The phrase bonfire of the QUANGOS recalls the title of the novel by Tom Wolfe about bond trader Sherman McCoy who, through a series of seemingly trivial incidents, fell from being a hugely wealthy ‘master of the universe’ to being a hunted criminal cowering from his persecutors. The title of Tom Wolf’s book echos events in 1497 in Florence when the city was under the influence of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola. He persuaded the citizens to bring out their ‘vanities’ (luxury articles) and throw them literally on a bonfire in the Piazza della Signoria – a bonfire of the vanities. However, he like Sherman McCoy suffered a rapid and total loss of his power and influence and was himself executed by burning in the same piazza where the ‘vanities’ had, just a few years earlier been incinerated.

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