Commentators seem to miss a deep pattern. While the pattern remains unrecognised it will persist under Governments of any stripe and people will suffer.
A Government agrees a policy. This is right - it believes in the policy and it has been mandated to pursue the policy.
The Government also agrees a delivery method. The delivery method will be contingent - one of several theoretically possible delivery methods.
The delivery method will have a very robust implementation structure. This is because building in things like discretion and flexibility always results in policy drift.
Robustness will be things like:
punitive level of penalties for non-compliance;
such penalties being automatic;
paperwork set at a level at which everything is fully auditable and demonstrable;
banks, employers, letting agents, schools etc being obligated to ensure compliance;
delivery set against specific targets or levels and in set time frames.
The official Opposition points out ways in which the particular contingent delivery method’s robust structure will in due course generate injustice for some individuals. This is ignored as inevitable background noise – which, in part, it is.
As delivery begins, individual cases of injustice do arise. The absence of discretion and flexibility makes this inevitable.
The official Opposition draws the Government’s attention to these injustices. Some parts of the Media (usually those parts least sympathetic to the policy) do so too.
The Government responds with statements which are unrelated to the injustices. Such a focus on its response and reputation may even be what prevent its attention to the injustices.
It says things like:
the policy was in our manifesto;
the policy has wide public support;
this is the amount of money we are spending in the policy area;
the official Opposition would be implementing a worse policy if it was in Government;
the official Opposition has personalities we dislike and other policies we don’t agree with;
we do not comment on individual cases.
There are three things about the injustices faced by Windrush generation which are unusual.
The first is that the particular injustice has broken out from the closed circle of the rhetoric of those opposed into the wider consciousness of the nation. This is much rarer than people think.
The second is that the Government Minister responsible has made an even more rare admission that she had not made a strategic connection in her own mind between the individual cases of injustice and the implementation methods being used by her Department. I don’t remember this happening before.
The third is fleeting recognition that specific achievement targets will have contributed to distort motivation and sympathy in this case.
But, apart from these three things, it is fundamentally the usual deep pattern producing a predictable result.
Meanwhile the plight of even some others effected by the exactly the same area of policy implementation has not broken in to public consciousness. There are even other areas of policy implementation where the generation of injustices in trial areas has not prevented the wide rolling out of exactly the same method.
The gain will always be that mandated policy has not been allowed to drift. The loss will always be that some people have been made destitute and have even taken their own lives as a result.
The vine banner was created during All Age Worship at St Michael’s today.