Cut spending, improve services

The surveys so far of departmental budgets all reveal the same characeteristics. Far too much is spent on overhead. The error rates are too high, quality is too low. Too much time is spent on spin, PR, advertising, recruiting people to do non jobs, needless regulation, and endless bogus consultation.

Given the imperative to curb spending to cure the deficit, any incoming government should take the following actions in its first week to start to get on top of the problem.

1. Impose a freeze on all external recruitment, excluding front line posts in teaching, medical, and security forces.
2. Set out slimmed down senior management structures which departments should work towards as people leave.
3. Halve the advertising budget.
4. Ban all new consultancy contracts, unless a Minister agrees to one based on a good case which shows how the work canot be done in house, and why it offers value for money.
5. Make a substantial reduction in the numbers of Special Advisers.
6. Abolish unelected regional government, including the Regional Assemblies, Development Agencies, housing and planning quangos.
7. Abolish the superstructure of targets, advice and guidance and cross cutting programmes that Whitehall visits on Councils, allowing them to cut their overhead of box tickers and form fillers at the same time as cutting the departmental costs.
8. End expensive centralised computer programmes. Cancel the ID computer.
9. Start renegotiating the pension plans, and close them to new members.
10. Publish a bill abolishing and amalgamating quangos.
11. Publish the first deregulatory bill.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

43 Comments

  1. Jim Pearson
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    It sounds good, and I’m in favour, but I am worried that these good idea’s won’t be implemented. I think that DC and team tory will shirk about the medicine, and not complete the course. I hope you can convince them otherwise. I am enjoying the recent posts with the comments, they’re giving me an improved education.

    • michael mcgrath
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      I agree with JP. I am also concerned that Team DC will fail to act for fear of adverse reactions within the populace. I simply hope that the “government in waiting” is keeping it’s powder dry until it can act. What they must realise, however, is that a Tory landslide is by no means certain and that to maximise their vote next time, they need to provide something to focus the mind of the uncertain voter. It is certain that the actions needed are going to be painful for many and DC will need a large majority to support him if he is to succeed

    • THE ESSEX BOYS
      Posted August 1, 2009 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      This list and Action Plan is music to our ears – and surely to those of any experienced businessman.

      As for whether Cameron is listening and is sufficiently astute and brave? In his shoes we would not be shouting about these reforms right now either.
      However we live in hope and expectation that something close to this program will form part of his early ‘Emergency Plan’ and that JR will be given a role in its implementation. It would strike the right chord with the majority of the electorate who are crying out for ‘common sense’.

      We plan to send a copy of this proposal and our own comment to our respective local Essex MPs and to DC’s office. We hope that other contributors here will do the same.

  2. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    As I wrote before, if you aren’t given a position on the frontbench this will signify that the Conservative party hasn’t the stomach to tackle the problem.

  3. Brian E.
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    From my experience, not only in the Civil Service, but in the Government Authority to which I was subsequently transferred, consultants and contractors are mainly used as a means of avoiding responsibility.
    If there is a project to be carried out which has some degree of risk attached (such as an IT project), the first move is to employ consultants to write the specification. This ensures that if it has something missing, or it is hopelessly over specified, it is their fault not yours. A similar approach applies to the selection of contractors; employ the biggest, even if they are far more expensive and not necessarily the best. Again if it all goes wrong, or things are delayed, management can shrug its collective shoulders and insist “Well we employed the biggest firm in the business – what else could we have done”. As a professional engineer, my answer would always have been “Well employ some more engineers of your own and run the project properly”, but no, administrative types are always convinced that they can carry out any task by sitting in an office and producing paperwork. Administration should support the task in hand, running it should be the job of appropriate professionals which are now sorely lacking in the Civil Service.
    And by the way, consultants fees on major projects are generally a percentage of the project costs, and thus they have every incentive to over-specify and drag out the project; it just keeps the fees rolling in.
    But I still remain unconvinced that David Cameron will do anything along the likes that you suggest here or in your previous proposals. Please convince me that I’m wrong.

  4. no one
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    if you ban recruitment they will just hire subcontractors, or give work as call offs against existing contracts (which will grow) to the consultancys

    you also need to implement a more free market for the staff in the public services, for instance i know some teachers in middle class schools who would be happy to go work in an inner city school for say 2 years, but who know they would be close to burn out if they did an inner city school for longer than that, and currently if they did it they would be at big risk of not being able to get back to a nice leafy middle class school, stuff like this should be supported much more – we need to get good teachers into the inner city schools in rotation – stuff like this will not be fixed by simple market economics on its own

    Why dont you phase out PCSO’s and replace them with proper coppers? much more cost effective in my view, and replace “walk in centres” staffed only by nurses with proper acess and choice about GP’s?

    If you follow the cost saving mantras of some of the multinationals in the public sectror and off shore more work or use international resources here on inter company transfer visas you will be making a mistake, and this is the current understanding of the analysts

  5. Acorn
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Worth reading Burning our Money today on Canadian Cutting Lessons. Make sure GO watches the video of Jocelyne Bourgon at the IFG; lessons to be learnt here.

    http://burningourmoney.blogspot.com/2009/07/canadian-cutting-lessons.html

    “11. Publish the first deregulatory bill.” This is the job for you JR. I suggest you hop over to British Columbia and find out how they did it, see this link.

    http://www.tted.gov.bc.ca/sfbc/Pages/default.aspx

    Institute for Government (IFG) is at:-

    http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/

  6. Lola
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Yep, a good start. But the sounds emanating from Camp Cameron do not seem to endorse this.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      It maybe Mr Cameron is simply saying nothing remotely contraversial and allowing Brown to implode. Not a bad strategy and it doesn’t give the enemy much to shoot at save for the alleged lack of any strategy. In truth I have absolutely no idea what Mr Cameron stands for or is against and by being the blank canvas, much as Blair was in 1997 he allows people to project their fantasy on to him.

      He may ape Blair in power as well, and that truly would be the road to hell.

      May I provocatively suggest that perhaps JR should publish some ‘shadow white papers’ and rather force Mr Cameron’s hand by appealing to the tory grass roots?

  7. guy de Moubray
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Yes, it sounds good, but much of it will involve going against Brussels – particularly the abolition of the non-elected regional governments. Cameron and co must stand firm against Brussels

  8. ken from glos
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I am a fortunate in receipt of a Final Salary Pension and i can assure you they are unsustainable now, never mind the long term.

    They cost the tax payer a fortune.I retired at 50 plus and those who pay my pension will have to work way past 65 to get a pension that is only half as good as mine. It is madness.

    • StevenL
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Good point!

      12. Tax the old.

      Seriously, it it madness, both my folks are on index-linked final salary schemes, mortgage paid off and have never been better off in their lives. Yet they still get state pensions, free bus passes etc.

      Then on the other hand you have non-working families that get massively subsidised housing, huge handouts (over £1,500 a month tax free for a married couple with 5 kids), don’t have to pay council tax, school meals etc.

      Then there are masses of young people working hard on £15 – 25k a year, paying tax, paying their way (and the way of the two examples above) and struggling to keep their heads above water due to high housing costs, council tax, fuel bills etc.

      The government seem intent on engineering a situation where house price inflation stays high, price/wage inflation low and redistribution from the economically active to the inactive occurs on a massive scale – it can’t go on like this.

  9. Neil Craig
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I think 7 deserves emphasis, not having been discussed much elsewhere. Not only does it cut Whitehall costs but also allows councils to cut even more.

    A similar benefit would come from slashing the H&S Executive since the costs they impose on business are 20 times what they cost government to employ.

    Some years ago there was a Yes Minister about introducing failure standards to any government project – ie it would have to be written into the proposal document by a named official under what cost & lack of achievement standards it would be considered a failure & to be abolished. Obviously in the comedy the civil service blocked it. Obviously in real life too.

    If DC is smart he will implement these & in week one. The Conservatives have the choice of winning the election, being popular by doing nothing much to improve the economy & thus being unpopular in 5 years time & losing or making the country take all the nasty medicine quickly, losing popularity, but regaining it in a few years as the economy is transformed.

  10. Matthew Miller
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    All sound like good ideas. Not sure about only internal recruitment as what will happen to the new graduates / school leavers? But otherwise can see the logic in the suggestion. Regional government is both unnecessary and unwanted. Ditto ID cards.

  11. figurewizard
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    One outstanding current example of knowingly wasting taxpayers cash is to do with swine flu. The government has set up a huge call centre, staffed by people who know nothing about medicine and whose only role is to read out what comes up on their computers. Further, this week double page spread advertisments have appeared in all the major newspapers with more information.

    The fact is that there are already many websites carrying excellent information on this, such as the BBC, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Health Organisation, the US Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and a number of (principally US) universities. In fact all this government had to do if it really felt it necessary to add to these would have been a simple update to the NHS Direct website.

    Instead we have seen expenditure of many millions of pounds to be added to our burgeoning national debt which adds up to nothing more than a cynical strategy to try to demonstrate to a despairing electorate that this lamentable government is actually quite ‘dynamic’ and ‘concerned’.

    • THE ESSEX BOYS
      Posted August 1, 2009 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      ABSOLUTELY!

      Sadly a typical example of wanting to be seen to do something rather than a common sense, businesslike response to a problem.

  12. Time for Innovation
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    As well as the ideas above based on cutting spending to improve services, the team should also consider cutting benefits to reduce taxation. Our current benefit/tax regime is an incredibly inefficient machine designed to tax those with earnings and redistribute funds to those favoured by the current Administration. When you consider the overhead involved in adminstering schemes such as Tax Credits you can see just how stupid the whole tax/benefits regime is. The recycling of money removed from people as taxes and returned as benefits is akin to money laundering, with the bloated state bureacracy feeding off the cycle.

    Surely it would be much better to leave the money with individuals in the first place rather than creating the complexity of schemes like Tax Credits. Yes this approach will be hated by the Guardian readers from Islington and the BBC, but providing you simultaneously cut the befits and the taxation that was used to funded it, the average British taxpayer will be better off and will have considerably less dependency on the State.

    OK three may be some losers, but I would put money on most of them being the feckless types who make a living out of our benefit system. By slimming the benefit system down, the level of fraud could be slashed and the remaining funds better targetted at those who need short term help.

    Lets get the country back on its feet by reducing the benefits culture, increasing self sufficiency and promoting social responsibility, than the handouts, rights and claims culture that has been promoted by the current Administration.

    • StevenL
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Tax credits only amount to recycling your taxes if you work and pay taxes in the first place. People who do not work at all qualify for the top payments of child tax credits.

      There would be millions of losers, ainly people who have large families but cannot command good money in the labour market, the current system makes them better off than working would. I came across someone who was married with 5 children, did not work, and received over £1,500 a month cash in benefit payments – that’s before you take his social housing into account, free school meals, opticians fees etc.

      When you add the NHS costs of 7 people and the education of 5 people into the equation, I wonder how many people working on an average income (about £24k) and paying tax it takes to subsidise each family like this?

      Tax credits are Brown’s system of creating ‘equality’ they are nothing to do with creating a bureaucracy.

      • Time for Innovation
        Posted August 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        “There would be millions of losers” … “I came across someone who was married with 5 children, did not work, and received over £1,500 a month cash in benefit payments – that’s before you take his social housing into account, free school meals, opticians fees etc.” … “I wonder how many people working on an average income (about £24k) and paying tax it takes to subsidise each family like this?”

        So why should I and every other taxpayer subsidise such behaviour. There are too many British citizens who ignore their social responsibilities – not working and having five kids sounds highly irresponsible. Brown’s “equality” is entirely one way it takes from those in employment or with income from assets and heavily rewards those who do not contribute. There have been too many cases highlighted in the media over the last decade where huge sums of taxpayers’ money is being spent supporting people who are making no positive contribution to the UK or its economy. Its time to stop this madness, we simply cannot afford it!

        • StevenL
          Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          Calm down! I never said you should, I was just disagreeing with the commonly expressed premise that tax credits exist to recycle taxes from the poor through a bureaucracy and back to the poor that paid for them in the first place.

  13. April Ryan
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I love your blog John and I think both you and David Cameron talk a lot of sense. The public are hungry to see some ‘Common Sense’ brought back to government and to see an end to the patronising attitude of this current government.

    However, I think that Jim Pearson makes an excellent point and I think that’s the biggest single worry that we all have.

    We simply can’t sustain a public sector that’s nudging closer and closer to 50% of GDP but there are other equally major issues facing us. We need a government that is up to the task of –
    1. re-balancing the economy and getting the country out of debt
    2. taking a leadership role in managing climate change and peak oil to develop resiliance and sustainability in terms of food production and jobs
    3. resisting the might of those sectors of business that have thrived under Labour and become too powerful such as the banks and supermarkets
    4. managing people’s expectations and bringing a public onside to cope with the changes ahead

    Clear and open policies, firm leadership and a party all pulling in the same direction could just about save the day. I hope the Conservatives will be ready to go from day one because more of the same will sink us.

  14. Richard Wellings
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The listed proposals are a good start but they only scratch the surface. In reality the fiscal situation is so dire that very severe emergency cuts will be required – the kind of measures seen recently in countries such as Ireland, Latvia and Hungary. This could mean across the board reductions in benefits, tax credits, state pensions and public sector pay. Certainly further and higher education budgets will have to be slashed, and expensive projects like Crossrail cancelled. At the same time, an ageing population means restraining NHS spending will be extremely difficult.

  15. oldrightie
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    There is a growing internet meme that DC and The Conservatives will much the same as this lot or they will eat babies. A pincer movement that on paper is win, win. However I really believe that it may well be a refreshing era and last a great deal longer than 13 years. Whatever, I will stay to support the effort but I shall emigrate the moment another Labour Government ever returns to power. God willing I shall stay.

  16. Steve Cox
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I think you (and the Conservative Party, of course) need to be more aggressive. Peter Voser, the new boss of Royal Dutch-Shell, seems to be headed in the right direction. I worked for them for many years and know what a horribly bloated management structure they have. Voser is savaging this waste now, instead of waiting for people to retire gracefully and not be replaced. I don’t know if he will be able to see through all of the reforms he proposes, but it strikes me that he seems to know what he is doing. You need some tough love, John, sack the unnecessary layers in the public sector, something Maggie never achieved. The next government will be able to do only so much. Fine talk about school reform and military spending reviews and so on are fine, but the absolute number one priority – and I hope Cameron and Osborne realise this – has to be to get public spending back under control. Major cut-backs in back-office staff, bloated management, and the use of expensive consultants will all be essential. And not 5 or 10 years down the road as a result of natural wastage, but within the first term so as to have real results to show at the election in 2015 or whenever it will be held.

  17. alan jutson
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the Department details posted over the past few days, it all makes very interesting, but very worrying/depressing reading.

    One has to ask who on earth has been overseeing all of this expenditure, who has approved all of this staggering increase in manpower.

    Clearly no one in the present Government has asked the same questions as you pose, otherwise surely something would have been done to curb this waste.

    One has to ask if any present Government Minister is even bothered about this sort financial chaos.

    The real damming fact is that even with all of this expenditure, the service which is provided, is sub standard in many cases.

    Write to the Inland Revenue and you will be lucky to get an answer inside 3 months. Many other Government Departments are the same.

    The next Government has no choice, IT HAS TO ACT TO CUT WASTE and IMPOSE EFFICIENTCY, or we will simply drown in debt and paperwork.

    We need a hatchet man who can SENSIBLY cut through all of this Politically Correct red tape to get things moving.

    We also need a Government who can unwrap the complicated and mind boggling number of benefits, credits, allowances and taxes, which often work against, and cancel out each other, causing huge confusion and resentment.

    The Tax take from individuals has to come down, the allowance at which you start to pay tax has to go up significantly to encourage those that do work to stay in work, and to encourage those on benefits to find work.

    The Benefit trap has to be abolished.

    John your my man, I hope your David Camerons.

  18. Richard Sable
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    This sounds good – but you do not mention using troops to turf out the BBC within an hour of Dave kissing hands?

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant, but in all seriousness, abolish the licence fee, fire sale any assets make some money

  19. Paul
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s too weak.

    The advertising budget should be reduced by 90%. Most of it is propaganda or stupidity (don’t cross in front of a train with your car …..) that can be weaned out via Darwin.

    It is like the “Hundred Days”. Cameron will have a window of opportunity. He must use this to sack all the leftie placement, quangocrats and repeal most of the laws brought in since 1997.

    Labour’s rubbish is not “reformable” IMO.

  20. Peter Davies
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Putting-Patients-Last-Commandments-Business/dp/1906837090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248690427&sr=8-1

    James Gubb and I give evidence and examples that would support your proposals in the healthcare field in our new book from Civitas.

    I suspect that teachers, military and police could all give examples corresponding to our NHS ones.

  21. Number 6
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    John, all of this would be most welcome. However, the biggest saving we could make from intrusive and unwanted top-down legislation and intrusive laws that benefit no one except the political class and their well-paid box checkers and pen pushers, would be to leave the EU.

  22. Colin D.
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Industry could not possibly come up with ‘slimmed down senior management structures’ and only implement ‘as people leave’. The necessary changes simply would not happen. The only way is to bite the bullet and implement quickly. This is what the Conservatives must do… but has Cameron and his team got the energy, the determination and the guts? I doubt it.

  23. Jason
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Reduce the number of types of taxes collected. Reduce the regulations to those that remain. This will reduce the cost of collecting tax, reduce tax avoidance and reduce the cost on business.

    I would suggest abolishing all existing business tax, including employers NI and replacing with a simple Revenue Tax minus salary costs. This will act an incentive to keep staff employed and employ new staff earlier in the recovery, when it comes along.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, employers NI is a tax on employees which few people realise they pay. If someone earns a gross £100 a week, say it costs £110 per week to employ them, then that is what the employer is prepared to pay. The pay slip might say £100 minus £25 tax and £10 NI so people think taxes are 35% but this is a big lie. In fact they are closer to 41%.

      The tax system is complex to hide the truth and to employ some people at state expense. One honest thing that an incoming government might do is abolish all the false distinctions and say tere is one payroll tax, it is 41% on incomes below X. It would also make it cheaper to collect.

  24. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Your last few posts have been right to the point. Where you got the figures from is beyond me, but they tell a sorry tale of waste of our money and skill.
    As Jim Pearson remarks above, though, the question is not whether or not you are right, it is what the Conservatives are going to do about it.
    I wonder myself whether people like you have the ear of the inner circle of shadow ministers. It seems to me that most of the talented Conservative MPs have been sidetracked and left to stew on the back benches.
    Simon Heffer wrote a very good piece in the Telegraph about this. He seems to think that the future government by the Conservatives will be rather like Edward Heath’s.
    And there have been several letters today underlining this.
    Can you show me that we are wrong?

    Reply: The figures all come from published government departmental reports. It’s fascinating that no professional journalists bother to read or report any of the obvious stories of waste and excess that tumble out of official documents, because no spin doctor bothers to highlight them. I am sending these analyses to George Osborne and Philip Hammond, as they should find them useful.

  25. Jim
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    This is fine but it is old-politics style thinking. Why not look from the other side of the coin, i.e. what DO we need rather than what DON’T we?
    Press the Reset button. Set a new structure for the Public sector from Parliament down. All Public sector workers re-apply for new jobs in the new structure. If this were to be phased over the first 18 months of a new Gov., it might give people like those here that a Tory Gov would actually make a difference…

  26. Bazman
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Many of the benefits paid out are to people not working through this and previous government policies. Making the desperate even more desperate is not the way forward. Letting them rot on the dole is also not. Oh how the middle classes bleat at any attack on their income, but of course yours is completely deserved, an entitlement no less.
    Stop mega wages for state owned bankers as there is no justification. Cut wages to tin pot bureaucrats. They can get a job in the private sector if they don’t like it. Government jobs filled by chaps and gels on three month contracts instead of jobs for life. The coal face of wine and antiques beckons these people anyway.
    Above all stop private companies many of whom MP’s are involved in, from scamming the public with ludicrous contracts and consultants, often ripping of the public purse with system that do not work. On the nail payments if necessary.
    Interesting to see what the Tories will do with the next Trident project. Going cut that one John? “What will the boys do one Monday?” As that great MP Cecil Franks said in the early 90’s Well they took your advice Cecil and all went to sell Blackpool rock on the sea front. That didn’t work out so they decided to sit on the rank in Taxis watching TV. Some got on their bikes others to old or feckless to move live on benefits. Cecil Franks however was never heard of again and never seen on the rank.

  27. backofanenvelope
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I saw you described as a “managerial” politician Mr Redwood. I don’t think it was intended as a compliment.

    I don’t think we can “manage” our way out of this current mess, as you seem to be suggesting. The only way out is to STOP the state doing things.

    On education for instance; devolve the whole thing down to county level and pay them a per capita sum and let them get on with it. The Dept of Education, or whatever it is called, could be scrapped and its staff re-deployed as classroom assistants.

  28. Sally C.
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Cutting government waste is clearly vital but there is another aspect to the constraints on private sector growth which should be tackled. That is the raft of regulations that make life difficult for small and medium sized businesses one of which is the minimum wage. We would not have such a large unemployment problem in the 17 – 24 age group if the minimum wage did not exist. Young people don’t generally have the financial commitments that older people do. They can afford to work for less and they would have work ( not benefits) if the minimum wage did not exist for that age group. To be honest I would scrap the minimum wage altogether. It is the cause of youth unemployment and it props up an unsustainable salary pyramid in a world of internationally mobile workers. For example, an experienced doctor in Poland earns about £10,000 a year. An experienced doctor in the NHS, a shortish bus ride from Warsaw, earns over £100,000 a year. Enough said.

  29. Robert George
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Create one new Cabinet position, that of Finance Minister. That role is currently done by one of the secretaries to the Treasury. It lacks status and power. Take the job out of Treasury’s grasp.

    The job of the Finance Minister is to review monitor and report on every centralised department in the land. He will need to be an utter bastard to his colleagues as he cuts their spending plans to ribbons and imposes financial responsibility as the governing credo of the next government.

    Fancy applying John?

  30. ManicBeancounter
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    There are many good points here, that in total would create substantial reductions in spending if carried out. However, the second part of your title – improving services – needs fleshing out. Getting rid of “the superstructure of targets, advice and guidance and cross cutting programmes” is a start, but you need something to replace these targets. The replacement is through encouraging diversity through mutliple channels for service delivery. That is not just choice in schools and hospitals, but funding different types of schools (and syllabuses) and different forms of hospitals, so that better forms can be developed from the local level. This will enable those engaged in service delivary to actively contribute in improvements.
    However, it means the government stepping back and only ensuring certain minimum standards are met. It needs a counter to the idea that the government should be tinkering in every area of life to a belief in government providing strategic direction.

  31. adam
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    What is it with these Tzars that are being introduced.
    It seems its happening in America too based on what i have been watching (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjwEBrAWMu4&feature=channel_page).

    Tzar presumeably from ‘Ceasar’ or emperor/dictator

    Maybe abolishing these Tzars would be a good idea.

  32. Bernard Palmer
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    Obviously you are the chosen one if the cheers are to be believed. Liked your list, though I thought it read better upside down. You as ‘The Bastard’ sounded really cool.

    The protruding canine testes is that there possibly won’t be an election if the US bond market collapses in the mean time. Chaos will rule as central banks try belatedly to introduce a gold backed currency. This unfortunately could make your excellent list into waffle.

    Fingers crossed you will be ‘Lord Protector’ one day if we have to return to a ‘hands on monarchy’. If what we have now is the result of democracy then we need to go backwards to stabilize first before trying to put together the pieces. Unless we just go straight in where angels fear to tread and give Capitalism with an unadulterated gold standard a real try.

  33. adam
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The UK government is about to spend $700 million dollars installing surveillance cameras inside the private homes of citizens to ensure that children go to bed on time, attend school and eat proper meals.

    No you aren’t reading a passage from George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, this is Britain in 2009, a country which already has more surveillance cameras watching its population than the whole of Europe put together.

    Now the government is embarking on a scheme called “Family Intervention Projects” which will literally create a nanny state on steroids, with social services goons and private security guards given the authority to make regular “home checks” to ensure parents are raising their children correctly.

    Telescreens will also be installed so government spies can keep an eye on whether parents are mistreating kids and whether the kids are fulfilling their obligations under a pre-signed contract.

    Around 2,000 families have been targeted by this program so far and the government wants to snare 20,000 more within the next two years. The tab will be picked up by the taxpayer, with the “interventions” being funded through local council authorities.

    Another key aspect of the program will see parents deemed “responsible” by the government handed the power to denounce and report bad parents who allow their children to engage in bad behavior. Such families will then be targeted for “interventions”.

    Both parents and children will also be forced to sign a “behavior contract” with the government known as Home School Agreements before the start of every year, in which the state will dictate obligations that it expects to be met.

    The opposition Conservative Party, who are clear favorites to win the next British election, commented that the program does not go far enough and is “too little, too late.”

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page