On the seventh day of Christmas...


swansMy true love sent to me: seven swans a-swimming. In the song, this could refer to the seven sacraments, or the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which include things like teaching, service, and leadership.

At last there is some sign that the UK government might be retreating from all three of these. The decentralization of schools along the Swedish model (basically, parents can choose any school and taxpayer funds follow those choices, creating a competitive market in schooling) may start slow but will, I believe, grow and grow until our school system is massively reformed and improved. Other public services, under the Big Society agenda, are also being decentralized, with private, voluntary, community, and charitable groups taking over things like drug rehabilitation, care of offenders, helping unemployed people back to work, and so on.

It's all about public services being delivered - and led - more locally, and therefore more in tune with the needs of local people. The 'Big Society' can sound like a lot of waffle – and some of it is, because nobody has a clear idea of exactly how you dismantle the bureaucracy of public services and return power to the people, any more than they had any clear idea of how to break up and privatize state industries back in the 1980s. But when it happens, the revolution could be equally big.