The Obamas are in talks to produce a series for Netflix, but what would their peers come up with? Silvio’s First Dates, Putin’s King of the Woods – the possibilities are endless
As yet, nobody knows what Barack and Michelle Obama’s new Netflix shows will look like – they are reported to be in advanced talks to make programmes with the streaming service. While the smart money is on the Obamas highlighting inspirational stories from around the world, it might also end up as an interview show, or a dramatised memoir, or a full-volume down-the-barrel Infowars screech. Either way, to give a former world leader and first lady a platform like this is unprecedented.
And where the Obamas lead, others will follow. If any current or former world leaders are interested in joining the bandwagon, I have some ideas.
The current outsourcing pattern is commercially unsustainable. It is time for a wider rebalancing of public and private provision of essential services
When the chief executive of a business declares its operations to be “far too complex”, investors are naturally alarmed and customers concerned. In the case of Capita, the ultimate customer is the taxpayer, since the group specialises in services outsourced from Whitehall, devolved administrations, local government, the NHS and other public sector bodies. Wednesday’s profit warning by Jonathan Lewis, Capita’s CEO, is all the more alarming since it comes so soon after the collapse of Carillion, whose over-complex business also relied heavily on public sector contracts. But Capita is not, yet, the new Carillion. Its share price has tanked, but it is still able to raise money. Mr Lewis is airing dirty financial laundry now because, being new to the job, he can signal change and blame troubles on the old management.
So business as usual? Not quite. Given the scale of public sector vulnerability, the Carillion case takes business as usual off the menu. This is a political matter more than a commercial one. Businesses operate under the conditions that are set for them by governments and, where outsourcing is concerned, the market only exists by virtue of public procurement. That brings special responsibilities and unique consequences for failure. Most voters do not dwell on ownership structures behind public services – until they go wrong. There is higher awareness of the private sector’s role in the NHS, providing buildings as well as clerical and clinical tasks. That is because the health service is a symbol of universal care bought with general taxation. Fear of its cannibalisation for profit animates great political passions.
The former PM’s remarks in Davos cheered the Brexit press, but they were no epiphany
Doesn’t he look well? Pink and chillaxed, David Cameron hanging out at Davos with the world’s leaders looks every bit as at ease as the day he said he wanted to become prime minister because “I think I’d be rather good at it”.
His six years in the job suggest he was catastrophically wrong. But how unburdened he looks by the millstone of a legacy he left us, a country stricken by austerity and riven by Brexit. Falling behind in wealth and global influence, we are up to our neck in a quagmire of negotiations to save us from the damage inflicted by his careless, fruitless referendum. But footloose and carefree, he and George Osborne are hosting their annual Davos fondue party.