It’s sunnier with the Conservatives! Now make it better value.

Vote Conservative in the cold and wet, dodging the hailstones, on May 1st, and enjoy a week of sunshine and summer temperatures.

Let’s hope this felicitous coincidence will be matched by improvements from Conservative government in action at the local level. I was pleased to see Boris has set up a Commission to help him cut costs at City Hall. They will be spoilt for choice, starting with the over the top 70 press officers, and working through the advisers Ken needed to run an alternative foreign policy.A staff freeze from day one, with new recruitment only permitted with Mayoral authority, would soon start to save the Council taxpayer serious money.

The other day the head of a major services company which takes on public sector work came to see me. He said they could perform more or less any administrative function currently undertaken by branches of UK government for between 15% and 30% less than its cost in house, and they would take on all the staff involved in the activity because they could find other things for them to do where they were not needed to carry out the original operation. If they can do, so could the in house teams if they were under pressure to do so.

Savings of that magnitude should be easy – the system has not been asked to deliver more for less for a decade, and looks very flabby compared to the best of the private sector under the cosh of international competition from China and India.

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11 Comments

  1. Acorn
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    One small problem with the plan John, trade unions. Any reform of the public sector, particularly at local government level, will hit this brick wall.

    Most LG employees are supposed to work thirty seven hour week, very few ever get near this. Apart from the much higher "sickness" level, there are even more occasions when you just can't find them. You will be amazed at the number of times I have phoned up at nine in the morning, to get the reply "he/she is not in yet". Or, "he is on a site visit", (which I learnt included the local supermarket).

    Councils took "work life balance" to the max. Some introduced "flextime" with as little as two core hours – when you have to be there – per day. The result was there was no point in phoning before nine thirty or after three thirty.

    The management would occasionally have a go at the problem, particularly when Councillors started complaining about not being able to get hold of particular officers but, they have little incentive to tackle the problem and upset the unions.

    It is a brave Councillor who brings this subject up at any meeting.

  2. Posted May 9, 2008 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Good luck to Boris in cutting out the City Hall waste. It will be a mammoth task, thanks to Ken's profligacy and cronyism.
    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  3. Susan
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Boris is the brightest hope London has had for a long, long time and even when it rains we'll be able to see the rainbows! One of the things that gives cause for hope is his undertaking to slash waste and make spending transparent. Whilst cutting the deadwood apparatchniks of Livingstone's fiefdom he has found time to cancel the subscription to 40 copies x pd of the Morning Star.

    If HM Opposition can demonstrate how it will do the same in government, it will be yet another solid reason to vote Conservative. As you say, there is plenty of scope.

    One other, huge, aspect would be to undertake to review and repeal all the negative and draconian laws which have been introduced in the past eleven years. The British people do not like 'big government' and statist intervention. (And a more honest and open policy on the EU would not go amiss either). If such an undertaking were given it would truly be 'Happy Days'.

  4. mikestallard
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I am so encouraged by your attitude to government, actually. It is so refreshing to hear that you have seen through the vast swathes of Guardian false jobs with enormous salaries which suck good people away from their professions into useless non jobs.
    Well Done!

  5. Susan
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    John Redwood has always "seen through the vast swathes of Guardian false jobs with enormous salaries which suck good people away from their professions into useless non jobs."

  6. Posted May 9, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Finally, after 15 years, we forced Labour out of Wolverhampton City Council – it's NOC but we will have a Conservative leader and Cabinet.

    We said we'd slash council tax. The Labour Party is using its usual tactics of accusing us of cutting services too – but we will cut Labour wastage easily in a council that Labour has mismanaged for 15 years.

    I'm sure that will be the case too not just in London, but in Bury, Vale of Glamorgan, Southampton and elsewhere!

    Reply: Good – please keep me posted with progress.

  7. Acorn
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    John
    This off the subject but could you do a piece on what happened in Parliament yesterday, (Friday).

    One of the private members bills was talked out with another private members bill; and, the government was accused of a filibuster but denied it. What rule allows this to happen?

    What is the motion "that this house do now sit in private", what's that all about?

    Reply: Will do.

  8. APL
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    JR: "Let’s hope this felicitous coincidence will be matched by improvements from Conservative government in action at the local level."

    Yes, lets.

    However, important as financial efficiency and value for money in the public sector is, let us not forget how important individual freedom is to economic success.

    What will the Conservative government do to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses, and the outrageous supervisory burden imposed by local and central government?

    If Cameron has the inclination to reduce this burden, how will he do it, given that much if not most of the burden originates in Brussels?

    So yes, it is great that we might be able to rely on Conservatives to be more 'productive' with public money. But we need some milestones to be set, such that we know a Conservative administration is achieving something important in the arena of individual freedom too.

    Something like, within six months – this piece of legislation will have been repealed. Within a year of a new conservative administration that piece of legislation will have been repealed. Give us some markers to measure a new Conservative administration by.

    You invited your readers to contribute their thoughts on taxes, I would like to see something similar but suggestions for legislation to be repealed. Might I suggest:

    The European communities act of 1973 represents the most abject and shameful act of surrender by British politicians, it and all subsequent related legislation relying on authority derived from the '73 act is hereby repealed.

    and running a close second

    The British Broadcasting Corporation has become a canker on society. It is hereby abolished.

    Reply: I set out plans to cut one fifth out of total regulation over the first Conservative led Parliament in the Eocnomic Policy Review and explained how it would be done (downloads on this site). This was warmly welcomed by the leadership last Autumn.

  9. Bazman
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives privatised BT which led directly to the formation of the Internet…. and are now even taking credit for the weather!
    The elite now have their man of the people Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson as Mayor of one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world which is sure to be a barometer for Conservatism across the country.
    If Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his chums does not come up with the goods who will be to blame then?

  10. Ian Evans
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    It amazes me how the NuLab crew and their media lieutenants keep mocking the 'bonkers clown' Boris. Do they not see how strangely that sits after their previous (pejorative words) mayor Red Ken?

    Somehow I think the last laugh will be the sweetest one!

  11. Sandy
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I am intrigued by the US State Governors that have declared Public money is to be accounted online unless there is a good reason otherwise. This enables members of the public who often know where the abuses are, to expose all the cushy little numbers bureaucratic cabals set up.
    Certainly a declaration like this from Boris, letting Londoners themselves help in the Augean task, would bring discussion of accountability for power wielded to the fore.

    Cameron mustn't think the anti-Brown vote is a pro-Cameron vote, and he has not yet shown the leadership, the Vision Thing.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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