AND SO IT GOES…#394


Government by blunder: From The Dome to HS2, the hubris, incompetence and mindless waste of our ruling class makes you want to weep. But then it’s only YOUR money they’re squandering

By DOMINIC SANDBROOK

PUBLISHED: 00:01, 5 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:54, 5 October 2013

Do you ever worry that the Government wastes your money? If the answer to that question is yes, you don’t know the half of it.

The all-party Public Accounts Committee released a damning report recently into the Blair government’s scheme to upgrade England’s NHS computer systems, branding it one of the ‘worst and most expensive contracting fiascos in the history of the public sector’.

The project quickly ran into trouble and was abandoned. Yet this is far from being ancient history, because incredibly — 11 years on — we are still paying the bill.

Initial reports put the cost at  £6.4 billion. But that turned out to be an under-estimate; in fact, the total cost is likely to rise to at least £12 billion, enough to pay for dozens of brand-new hospitals.

Unfortunately, King and Crewe are not so sanguine. The Coalition, they write in their downbeat conclusion, ‘appears to have learned little from the mistakes of its predecessors’.

From the botched award of the West Coast mainline rail franchise to the abortive attempt to flog the nation’s forests, one rushed, mismanaged policy has followed another.

Sad to say, if King and Crewe write a sequel to this book, they should have plenty of stories to choose from.

After all, HS2 alone seems likely to consume at least £42 billion — all just to shave a few minutes off the journey time between London and Birmingham.

The authors identify a host of causes, from civil servants who seem incapable of picking up the phone, to politicians who have never experienced life in the world outside Westminster.

For my money, though, the basic problem is simple. Over the past few decades, governments have tried to do too much.

Obsessed with winning headlines and propelling themselves up the political ladder, ministers rush to interfere in our everyday lives, hurling money around without stopping to consider the consequences.

In King and Crewe’s wise words, we are suffering not just from a financial deficit, but a ‘deficit of deliberation’.

And so we lurch from one initiative to another, the headlines dominated by endless reforms that achieve little — apart from wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

In an ideal world, we would have a government that thought more, talked less and was not afraid to do very little — or even nothing at all.
Sad to say, that is probably too much to hope for.

  • The Blunders Of Our Governments by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe (Oneworld Publications, £25). To order a copy for £20 (P&P free),
  • Ah yes ! flog us the book. Truth has many resonances and points of departure.And the Daily Home Counties’Tories Fanzine Mail happens to be one of many if unlikely terminii. Only a free market, Usury supporting,idol worshipping Tory could so readily and incisively expose the gargantuan hypocrisy and political expediency which constitutes the establishment’s ( con/lib/lab) heinous onslaught against Society’s economically marginalised and socially excluded. Not even Heydrich would have had the sheer gall to publish the minutes of the Wannsee Conference ,but here are his ideological inheritors and acolytes brazenly doing so !
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