David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ seems to depend on the willingness of volunteers to give up their free time in order to apply their skills for the public good.
As the Coalition government lit the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ last week, much media scorn was directed towards the ‘Foreign Office’s Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines’ (GHACPW). The committee was responsible for choosing wines on behalf of the Foreign Office for all its official functions.
Surely no one could argue that such a committee should be axed in theses austere times and the savings ploughed back into the public purse?
However, the truth of the matter is that the four Masters of Wine on this particular quango gave their time up for free.
Yes, that’s right. Four highly qualified professional workers gave their time up for free for the benefit of the state. Sounds pretty ‘Big Society’ to me.
Robert Alexander, head of government hospitality in the protocol directorate of the Foreign Office, said:
“The members and chairman of the GHACPW are not paid. They offer their advice to government hospitality at no cost, although they are entitled to claim travel expenses to attend meetings of the committee. The committee meets only four times each year for half a day. The four members of the committee are all masters of wine, and the chairman is a retired diplomat, Sir David Wright. I act as secretary to the committee. The committee was established in 1922, and has existed, in one form or another, since.”
This week the coalition will reveal it’s Comprehensive Spending Review after which tens of thousands of hard working people will lose their jobs . This will be presented by a man who has never had a regular job – George ‘My family is filthy rich’ Osborne.
So. There you have it. Politics as usual. I’m afraid not even WineOfTheWeek can drink to that.