Aditya Chakrabortty, being the modern history graduate that he is, thinks he's writing a series about how to liberate Britain from the clutches of neoliberalism. As we've pointed out before what he's really producing is a paean to the joys of not having central planning. Of letting the little platoons work things out for themselves in their own manner. His findings are remarkably Burkean conservative mixed in with a great deal of what we've been saying over the years.
Take this about school meals for example. Oldham, as he points out not exactly one of the richest corners of the Kingdom, is producing great school meals as a result of the people doing the producing actually caring about what crosses the counter. Well, fine by us of course, who doesn't want the kiddies well fed and happy to be so?
There is a useful point we should make here though:
“Today we’re the best.” Oldham’s school meals are high quality, wholesome and prize-winning. “What I see now – that’s what I’d give my family.”
Almost everything in these serving trays has been cooked from scratch this morning in the school’s own kitchen. That roast chicken comes from one of 14 birds that Fineran came in at 6am to roast and strip, singeing her own fingers as she did so. The fish cake is baked with catch certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. More options are laid out here than in most office canteens I’ve visited and, from the carrots up, as much of the food as possible is organic and locally sourced.
Bonzer, as one subset of the colonials would say. But note what we have:
Yet in Oldham the school dinner service runs on the principle that those who have the least also deserve the best possible. It delivers that within very tight budgets, spending a rock-bottom 65p on food for every meal and charging a mere £2.10.
This is something we've noted more than once. It isn't in fact what the budget is which is the important thing, it's how the budget is used. What we have here is proof that - £2.10 is a sliver under the average a rootle around the numbers seems to show - excellent food can indeed be served on the budget available. Therefore not excellent food being served upon that budget isn't about the budget, is it?
Further, the standard cry that more resources must be made available, Tory Austerity Must End Now doesn't work either, does it? It's not the budget that is the problem, it's either the way it's spent or the people that are doing the spending that is. And isn't that an interesting change from The Guardian's usual insistences?