Simon Caulkin bids farewell…..3

I don’t suppose that the great and the good at The Observer – yes, I’m talking about editor John Mulholland and co. – are going to be all that pleased that it was the man from The Torygraph who was able to report rather that the Government was now abandoning its long held belief in target culture, a culture that Simon Caulkin, the man they unceremoniously dumped a few weeks ago, had long and persuasively agued was fundamentally flawed from its inception.  

Today, the Government will publish a policy document that will say – wait for it – that the target culture that has suffocated initiative for 12 years is to be abandoned because it is unlikely to deliver the reforms that the Labour Party wants to see. Instead, the various parts of the public sector that deliver services directly to us as taxpayers, such as the police, doctors and teachers, will be allowed to make more of their own judgments based on what is needed locally. Gordon Brown will announce the new approach in a document laughably entitled Building Britain’s Future, together with a draft legislative programme for the next session of Parliament….

For myself I find it hard to believe that the man – John Mulholland again – who can put his name to a letter like this is too concerned about Caulkin’s value as a writer.

Thank you for your letter and I must apologise for the delay in responding.

Simon Caulkin is a tremendous writer and his column has added enormouslyto our understanding of British business and management. For these to lose the column was not taken lightly. It followed much discussion and only after exploring many different options did we reluctantly conclude that we had to take this course of action.

As you will doubtlessly appreciate, this was just one of a host of difficult decisions we have had to make in order to reduce costs across the newspapers at Guardian News and Media.

Newspapers and media groups are experiencing the most difficult trading conditions imaginable. Not only are we suffering, like everyone else, from the catastrophic fallout from the credit crunch in terms of severely reduced advertising revenues but, additionally, our industry is under structural assault from digital media which is causing enormous disruption to our business models.

In these circumstances, we are having to make extremely difficult decisions many of which have caused real anguish as we seek to cut costs. I do hope that Simon can continue to have a relationship with the paper and that we can continue to publish his writing from time to time. Should the economic climate change, then perhaps we can revisit the issue.

Thank you for taking the trouble to write and I completely understand your sense of loss but hope you can appreciate the dilemmas we are facing.

Yours sincerely
John Mulholland
Editor
The Observer

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