Chapter 7: Policy Rhetoric and Policy Realities
INTRODUCTION Public policy can be described as being the explicit action of government. Such action involves ‘policy inputs’ and implies public expenditure, while the policy outputs represent what government seeks to achieve for a level of policy inputs. In this sense therefore, policy action has to be separated from policy rhetoric. It is relatively easy for the government to declare they want to alleviate child poverty, the issue is what level of resources are governments willing to direct to families to deal with child poverty. Equally, government can make a commitment to increase the numbers going into higher education, but again, unless the policy is funded, it stays at the level of rhetoric, rather than action. Politicians continuously seek to persuade voters that their primary reason for entering politics is to be their public servants, to make politics a vocation, to bring about policy change, to make a difference in promoting the interests of their citizens. Political parties provide visions and principles that will guide their actions. However, when politicians become the government, arguments about values and principles are down-played and replaced with the discourse of the national interests, however that is defined. Many studies of the Thatcher Government very often quote the first speech by Mrs Thatcher from outside 10 Downing Street, when she quoted a passage from St Francis of Assisi, to argue the case that her Government had been elected to heal the wounds of the nation; a text selected for her by her speechwriter Ronald Miller:...
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