Target Practise

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I read that whilst speaking at an event organised by Holyrood magazine, the leader of the Green Party in Scotland, who's also a government minister, Patrick Harvie said: “After 15 years of having climate legislation, we have had too much time focused on targets being set as though that makes us world leaders and not enough time focused on the actions that are necessary.”

He should know as the Scottish government has just been roundly criticised by the departing chief executive of the UK Climate Change Committee for a target to reduce emissions by 75% from 1990 levels by 2030 which is clearly impossible to meet but has not been changed.  The Labour Party in England has one of these as well in relation to decarbonising electricity production, also by 2030.  Again, impossible on the timescale.  It's as if setting the target is in fact job done.  Perhaps no target should ever be set without a plan to meet it.  Indeed this is what Chris Stark said: "It’s no good setting targets that you feel are ambitious if you haven’t put a plan behind it.”


Faced with what is essentially the creeping privatisation of the English education system through Multi-Academy Trusts – MATs – it is easy to become nostalgic and overly romantic about local education authorities which used to run the show in times past.  Despite their being embedded within local democratic systems, they could be as high-handed and remote as any bureaucracy.  They had targets as well.

A nice story, then, about the 10 year old Ernie Wise who spent his evenings working the clubs of Leeds in a double act with his dad.  When the LEA inspectors found out, they ordered this stop in case it was affecting his schoolwork.  Ernie's dad took this stricture seriously and moved their act to Bradford.  When the LEA caught up with this, they moved back to Leeds and this merry two-step continued with the inspectors always trailing until Ernie was spotted by Jack Hilton.  In retrospect, I can't see that forcing young Ernie to give up the clubs would have improved the world all that much, but how were the inspectors to know?


I had to feel some sympathy for the poor woman who took an unresponsive baby hedgehog she'd found into her local vets so they could ease it back to life.  She had to endure considerable ridicule when it turned out that, rather than being a hoglet, it was the bobble off the top of a hat.  The vets confirmed this and then someone helpfully told the world.  At least the woman cared enough to go out of her way to do this.  It was reported that, when the bobble arrived at the vets in its cardboard box, it was taken into the triage area before the mistake was noticed.  Maybe everyone involved should sign up for the new GCSE in Natural History.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • An insightful post (as usual). After many years observing bureaucracies around the world, I have to conclude that they love targets that keep them popular, but rarely have plans that make any sense, especially if they cannot be done with short time frames of voting systems, or more likely set financial time-frames.