Who is to blame? Where does the power lie?

There is little limit to what you can achieve in politics as long as you are happy for others to take the credit. Some people have considerable influence but are happy to let others take the starring roles and to decide and implement the new ideas. Some with influence are civil servants, some are consultants, some are serving politicians. Much of government is a slave to the ideas of old economists and other thinkers. Much of modern government is driven by consultants who come in to recommend courses of action, design media strategies, and then take on the role of helping implement the decisions. The public never knows who they are.

Some politicians define their roles by the media. This became an acute preoccupation with New Labour, and has continued with many in government since. Some politicians have the strange idea that they can manage the media. They get upset when their agenda is displaced by events or someone else’s agenda. Too much concentration on the media can divert their attention from the day job. Often the reason they are doing badly in the media is not media mismanagement, but mismanagement of a part of government which then attracts justified public anger. They need to spend more time trying to fix the real problem, and less time trying to fix the media.

Advisers advise, and politicians decide. The media reports decisions and reactions to them. That is the constitutional theory. Sometimes it works out like that. There are frequently other models.
Sometimes officials decide and politicians do not realise what is going on. Sometimes officials recommend strongly and politicians acquiesce. Sometimes politicians do query an approach but are told it is the only technical, legal, practical or safe way to proceed. It then takes a strong minded and well informed politician to insist on a different way of proceeding. Sometimes the media have their own agendas and want to make the politicians follow them.

There are government Ministers who take a Manifesto or political agenda and drive it through, using officials to improve and implement. There are other Ministers who are but actors and actresses voicing the lines of departmental officials, both within and outside government.

We see in the questions about who is to blame for the Tower inferno these same issues of responsibility, knowledge and advice in local government. Is an elected Councillor allowed to rely on the technical expertise of his Council’s Building Regulation Department and the Fire Department? Does he or she ever need to challenge their technical advice and decisions? If he is told of what they are doing does that make him to blame if it is wrong? Or is he to blame even if he was not informed and it was handled as a delegated matter? Should a Councillor approving expenditures to improve the thermal insulation and look of a building have to do enough research to satisfy himself of the safety, or can he rely on the professionals designing and procuring the building to do that? The Councillor wants to take the credit for the improvement, so should he therefore take the blame if it goes wrong?

These are difficult issues. I would be interested in your views. The danger is we make the role of the Councillor too difficult so no-one good will want to take it on. The other danger is we expect too little, and the Councillors’ collective power to challenge and to improve the work of professionals and officers lapses or fails to do its job. In the worst cases in the public sector no-one is to blame. They all become good at laying off the risk, because they can claim that no one person ever took the decision. It just happened.


  1. Lifelogic
    June 26, 2017

    In the public sector almost no one is ever to blame as we see all the time. If anyone does ever have to resign they usually had almost nothing to do with the problem. They are just a convenience scapegoat, happy to take a large pay off and retire. Or the failure is alway because they just needed ever more money.

    A politician’s job should be to ensure that the state sector actually acts in the interest of the public, does not waste money, does only the rather few things government can do better than the private sector and is run efficiently. After all almost no one working in the state sector cares about this in the slightest the public to them are a nuisance. Politicians fail on this and to a huge degree, most do not even try.

    They usually sound more like spokespeople for the state sector, defending the indefensible and ignoring the 80% who work for the private sector.

    Daft employment laws which make it very hard and often very expensive to fire people do not help the state sector nor the private sector. If you come up with a good idea to run something in the state sector more efficiently with say half the staff no one would thank you and it would never get implemented. You would be told not to rock the boat.

    The main people who do ever get punished in the state sector are whistle blowers who point out how dreadfully run the state sector is, or how many are dying or inconvenienced as a result.

    1. eeyore
      June 26, 2017

      Blaming has become a Left-wing obsession, just as it was in Soviet Russia and Communist China. It takes the place of investigating, solving or improving. Labour, past masters at this contemptible game, are now calling the Grenfell deaths “murder” with the implication that there are murderers who will be identified and punished.

      No prizes for guessing who they will turn out to be.

      JR’s thoughtful essay (calling it a post hardly does it justice) ends on a gloomy note. But he’s right: in a name and blame culture covering your back becomes the priority of the powerful. Meanwhile messengers may expect to get shot.

      1. Hope
        June 26, 2017

        The govt is responsible. No question as it can change whatever it wants.

        Councils are to blame for blindly implementing anything EU, just like quangos. For this the govt is to blame for blindly implementing through these subsidiary bodies to escape blame and it also disguises the true amount of EU influence that the Liblabcon were/are keen to hide. We saw with the EU debates how politicos claimed little legislation from EU. Now we have the great repeal bill! Or just primary legislation but the vast amount of secondary legislation, regulation and directives waved through.

        Look at councils expenditure and you will see vasts sums of taxpayers’ money on consultants. Despite being paid huge salaries for their own alleged expertise. I will repeat CEO and director of services are overpaid and very untalented people. They implement what a small clique of councillors in their respective cabinets want. Usually a whipped named vote to prevent councillors using their own minds. Decisions regularly based on a we must do this without any real thought or analysis.

        The govt is responsible. It can create whatever it wants and whatever legislation it wants. It could provide radical structural change to local authorities, one size, only unitary authorities, better perameters of what councils can or cannot do etc. Your govt is currently imposing mayors that we do not want. They add nothing. Is Sadiq Khan accepting responsibility for Grenfall? Of course not.

      2. Lifelogic
        June 26, 2017

        Well if they were private sector they would doubtless execute the (unsrupulous they always are to the BBC types) landlords, but as they are state sector landlords (or underpaid, over worked “public servants” as Labour would have them and doubless unite members or similar) then I assume they will blame the Conservatives and a lack of money.

        This despite the fact that it was lots of money spent on pointless insulation that caused the problem and countless incompetent regulators who allowed it.

        1. Hope
          June 26, 2017

          JR, off topic. EU citizens should not have any right to ECJ if living here. If they want to be here abide by our laws. We are leaving they know this and have a choice, make it stay or leave.

          No more Sharia law. One law for wveryone. Full stop.

          1. Hope
            June 26, 2017

            Another off tic. Trump’s extreme vetting allowed by the Supreme Court today. Wonder why it is not headline news as it was when it was refused?

            At least he is trying to keep his citizens safe.
            Over to Rudd. What are doing?

          2. rose
            June 27, 2017

            Yes, one law for us all.

            No normal country would accept this and it is very worrying that there are reports HMG and the Opposition are thinking of compromising with an international court substitute.

        2. Mark B
          June 26, 2017

          The Leader of Kensington & Chelsea was on £180k a year. Frightening what some of these people in a ‘non-competitive’ industry such as the State Sector are paid.

    2. Bob
      June 26, 2017


      ” If you come up with a good idea to run something in the state sector more efficiently with say half the staff no one would thank you and it would never get implemented. You would be told not to rock the boat.”

      The state sector is about creating non-jobs and sinecures, not efficiency.

      1. Lifelogic
        June 26, 2017

        Indeed. Only government & politicians could rectify this but they almost never do so.

      2. Hope
        June 26, 2017

        Burnham willingly accepted the responsibility and kudos as Health Secretary making decisions on whatever he pleased. Mid Staffs was an atrocity where about 1200 people from neglect. If this was a private company/ care home there would be charges of corporate manslaughter. Did Burnham accept responsbility? Of course not. He was allowed to hide from a ministerial code without any consequence and to remain as an MP and allowed to put himself forward as mayor of Manchester, an office the public opposed. Why was he not banned from office? Directors can be banned from being directors. Again separate rules for politicos. It must stop.

        1. Hope
          June 26, 2017

          The deaths in mid staffs was more than Grenfall.

          1. Lifelogic
            June 26, 2017

            Indeed (how many if any got fired there?) and Mid Staffs is only a tiny part of the disaster that is the (free at the point of incompetence rationing) NHS. It kills thousands every year, possibly every month.

          2. Mark B
            June 26, 2017

            And they never got a bunch of ‘Virtue Signalling Celebs’ to make a pop song for them.


          3. Lifelogic
            June 26, 2017

            No indeed, the NHS got a silly, dishonest, childish, glorification pantomime instead, at the opening of the Olympics. It probably cost enough to save more than 10 lives had it been used for better health care.

    3. stred
      June 26, 2017

      In the case of the Camden tower blocks, there is already a promise to sack the person who signed off the re-cladding. ( Evening Standard). Now the leader says that following check done by the Fire Brigade, the insulation is not of the standard that they asked for and there is an urgent need to evacuate the buildings and tear the expensive stuff down. A figure of £66 m was given in the press. However, something is amiss here.

      Firstly, the Fire Brigade itself is a local authority organisation which should have
      been involved in the modernisation of the building. We do not know the details of the testing method or whether the local authority ordered the right grade of insulation. If the product is made by the same manufacturer as in the Grenfell block, there are 3 grades, one the cheapest is for low rise internal work and is normally protected by fire resisting linings, the next grade is fire resisting name FR in the Grenfell planning application and the right type for buildings over 18m high is clearly listed in the technical brochure, with a fire test certificate reference.

      Before the evidence disappears, someone independent needs to find out which grade the LA ordered, whether it was fitted with fire stops in accordance with the regulations and how it was inspected by Building Control. It is unfair to blame the person who signed the final certificate if many visits and inpectors were involved and if the wrong grade of material had been chosen by someone else. It is also difficult to inspect everything after it has been built in and covered, unless a clerk of works is used and it appears the LA chose to rely on others.

      The testing and inspection should also be done by an independent body, such as the BRE or Trada, before the panels are ripped of all the tower blocks in the land and the finger of blame is pointed, with ludicrous cries of murder from deliberate penny- pinching. The taxpayer has paid a huge amount for these improvements and deserves to know what actually happened.

      1. stred
        June 26, 2017

        I forgot to add that the tv news showed a flat high in a Camden block where a young mum was showing her improvements to her newly modernised home. This was on the day that it was announced that a fridge fire had caused the conflagration. I am familiar with tenants removing fire closers but, in this case the fire resisting door had been removed too. The kitchen is the main source of fires and, even in two storey rented houses, a fire door is required. If there had been a fire door in the kitchen and others to the lobby which worked, would the fire have spread so quickly to the cladding? Amd why do the tenants management associations check that flats have not been altered and are occupied by the tenant that they selected and subsidize at great expense.

        1. Hope
          June 26, 2017

          If McDonnel makes political responsibilities comments about Grenfall then he should equally justifying Mid Staffs or Iraq. Far more people died and Iraq was definitely political and definitely a proper judicial investigation has not occurred. We had establishment cover ups and clever use of words to evade prosecution. The public still not satisfied.

          1. Lifelogic
            June 26, 2017

            The war on a lie was certainly a far worse outrage.

          2. Lifelogic
            June 26, 2017

            Indeed and what about Labour Controlled Camden Council where, but for luck the same could easily have happened.

            Then the loons even ejected the tenants out for no sensible reason! When suitable fire patrols and fire cover on call would have been perfectly safe certainly safer than cycling in london!

    4. Chris S
      June 26, 2017

      In building up our buy to let portfolio I have both constructed new dwellings, refurbished and converted houses into flats.

      Every scheme has been designed by an architect who has also drawb up the zeparate drawings which showed how the scheme was to be constructed including specifying the standard of materials to be used to comply with the appropriate building regs.

      These drawings have to be appropved by the local authority building control group, although supervision of the work after approval may now be contracted to an independent practice or the architect.

      So: blame :

      First of all, the civil service draws up the building regs.

      The architect uses his knowledge of the appropriate regs to prepare the spec which is then checked and approved by the Building inspection dept of the authority. You cannot complete the work unless the spec is approved although you could start work at your own risk knowing that if it js not subsequently approved you might have to make expensive changes.

      So, if the materials used get approval from building control, the responsibility lies with the authority (or government if the regs are inadequate).

      Once approved, if the materials or construction method used are not as specified in the approved drawings that is the responsibility of the contractor doing the work as they will haved ordered the materials and completed the work.

      If the owner asked for cheaper materials to be used the contractor should not do have agreed to do the work as that would be in direct breach of the building regs approval.

      It is true that a body, most often Building Control, inspects the work but they cannot check everything and, for example, one piece of cladding looks much like any other.

      However, there should therefore always be a paper trail which should make it very clear who is responsible for almost every eventuality.

      As the cladding used on all 60 tower blocks so far tested has failed, it is almost a certainty that the tests being carried out are far stricter than past building regs required.

      This is not a fair test for the construction industry. The tests used should be the ones that were applicable in the year that the cladding was installed.

      It seems to me that applying much stricter tests is designed to deflect blame onto the industry and away from the civil service who draw up the building regulations and the politicians of various governments that signed them off over the last 40 years.

      Given the low esteem in which we hold governments, I suppose we should not be surprised at this.

      If stricter tests are necessary government should makeit cl3ar that it is lax regulation in the past and not the building industry that is responsible.

      1. Chris S
        June 26, 2017

        Apologies for the typos. This was posted from a small phone screen from a sunny garden in France !

        1. Edward2
          June 26, 2017

          Thanks Chris
          I’ve got more info from your post than all the TV and newspapers have been saying over the last few days.

          1. ChrisS
            June 27, 2017

            Thank you for the kind words, Edward.

            I should have added :

            1. Materials used in the building industry are not routinely tested by Government or Building Control. The specification of any particular material is developed by the manufacturer to meet national building Control standards.

            For example, for a one hour fire door, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that their products meet the standards utilising a specified test.

            2. All Building Control drawings submitted for approval have to be supported by calculations done by a Structural Engineer to ensure than the steelwork and timber in the building is of sufficient strength to take all loads anticipated such as wind, rain and snow and, for example, in the case of balconies, the weight of people.

            If everything is done correctly at every level there really should never be events such as Grenfell. Something was seriously remiss if the various checks and balances in the system allowed this disaster to have happened.

            Finally, as a Landlord, it is a fact that many tenants put themselves at risk

            For example :

            We have a very popular six-bedroom student flat which becomes vacant each July. Despite warnings to the tenants, every year in the past ten we have had to repair or replace a number of the door closers that have been damaged or removed by the tenants. Invariably they leave behind rubber wedges they have bought to keep fire doors propped open.

            The door closers are a specific requirement under our HMO licence and keeping fire doors closed is essential for the fire integrity of the building.

            I understand in some of the London tower blocks, long term tenants have removed fire doors and replaced them with decorative doors offering no fire protection whatsoever !

          2. stred
            June 28, 2017

            I just read the wiki account. According to people escaping, they could see the fire inside the flat where it started through the door, so it must have been left open.

            Also, from the manufacturer’s technical info, the new RS insulation, which complied, was not available until the year after the cladding completion notice.They inspected 16 times. Contrast this with 5 years of refusal to accept numerous details, including insulation and a rendered wall on my 2 storey extension in London over the same period, eventually accepted recently after a new chief took over.

  2. fedupsoutherner
    June 26, 2017

    Surely, if we have people being paid in the council to advise and who are supposedly the ‘experts’ in their field then it is their responsibility to report to the top and advise what is needed and make to sure it is implemented. I thought this was the responsibility of Building Control within the council? If we have these appointed people who are being paid quite high sums of money according to their expertise then shouldn’t we be able to rely upon them to advice the top man what finances are needed and what should be done to rectify things? If a building is supposed to be checked yearly for safety for the public and it is found to be wanting then the responsibility must lie with that department and the person in charge of the department. Public safety is paramount and the people in the responsible departments are normally required to be certificated and experienced in their field. As usual the buck gets passed from one person to another until nobody is found accountable. Checks should be made, recorded, seconded and approved and if not implemented it is the Councillor who is to blame but if the checks are not carried out in the first place then it is down to the safety officer and his department.

  3. Mark B
    June 26, 2017

    Good morning

    There is a difference between blame and responsibility. You may be not to blame but, you may be responsible. And comes with high office

    1. Leslie Singleton
      June 26, 2017

      Dear Mark–One does not need to be a pilot to run an airline

      1. Dennis Zoff
        June 26, 2017

        But it does help if an individual comes from the same industry! Placing an individual at the head of an industrial company, who is clearly technically inadequate, is asking for trouble.

      2. Dennis Zoff
        June 26, 2017

        But it does help if an individual comes from the same industry! Placing an individual at the head of an industrial company, who is clearly technically inadequate, is asking for trouble!

      3. Mark B
        June 26, 2017

        But the Captain of the aircraft is responsible for the aircraft, the crew and its passengers. Whatever happens on board, it is his responsibility. That’s the point !

        1. Leslie Singleton
          June 26, 2017

          Dear Mark–TVM for explaining my point to me!

      4. Leslie Singleton
        June 26, 2017

        Post scriptum–Would have thought by now somebody would have come back with, Now if one is flying the plane…(I kept mine short for fear of Moderation)

  4. Turboterrier.
    June 26, 2017

    What you write about today John can be found all over this country, let alone parliament and councils. Surely all on asks of those in power and control is that they accept that with responsibility come accountability at what ever level within their organisational remit.

    The poem popularly attributed to Charles Osgood came to mind the minute I started reading today’s entry:

    There was a most important job that needed to be done,
    And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
    But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
    Is who exactly will it be who’ll carry out the task?

    Anybody could have told you that everybody knew
    That this was something somebody would surely have to do.
    Nobody was unwilling; anybody had the ability.
    But nobody believed that it was their responsibility.

    It seemed to be a job that anybody could have done,
    If anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
    But since everybody recognised that anybody could,
    Everybody took for granted that somebody would.

    But nobody told anybody that we are aware of,
    That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
    And nobody took it on himself to follow through,
    And do what everybody thought that somebody would do.

    When what everybody needed so did not get done at all,
    Everybody was complaining that somebody dropped the ball.
    Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
    And everybody looked around for somebody to blame.

    Somebody should have done the job
    And Everybody should have,
    But in the end Nobody did
    What Anybody could have.

    1. a-tracy
      June 26, 2017

      Excellent poem.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      June 26, 2017

      Love it Turbo. So typical of most councils today.

  5. formula57
    June 26, 2017

    Elected officials ought typically to be able to reply upon expert technical advice but they should also do “due diligence” as the lawyers would say and so question and challenge and demand explanation and assurance and have the resources at their disposal to seek independent advice when they consider it necessary. Experts giving bad advice should be held to account.

    It does seem astonishing that a factor in the Grenfell Tower tragedy may have been the perhaps not fit for purpose cladding and that neither building nor health and safety regulations nor architects nor surveyors or constructors foresaw the danger arising from its use. Whether a diligent elected official could have done so must be doubted. Recall Chancellor Churchill’s fateful return to the gold standard for which he shouldered much of the blame: at the time all the best advice available was to return and he deliberated and questioned for a long while before acquiescing.

    1. Beecee
      June 26, 2017

      If you can find an elected official/politician who is equipped with the skills to do due diligence then you will have found a very rare beast indeed!

      More likely ‘Jobs worth’ springs to mind

      1. outsider
        June 26, 2017

        Yes, Beecee, due diligence is a technical process. To check up properly on some process or decision, however, one only needs the skills of an annoying small child or a tiresome journalist. One just keeps asking WHY questions until one gets to bedrock.

  6. Lifelogic
    June 26, 2017

    The government spends circa 45% of the UK’s GDP and yet delivers very little of any real value for this. Worse still much of it is spend causing positive harm and inconveniencing the productivem distracting them, killing jobs productivity and lowering overall GDP hugely. Much is spent buying votes or given to preasure groups who demand even more state.

    Endless bureaucrats, endless regulations, endless red tape, endless consultants and experts. Yet they still installed (and paid loads of money for) flammable insulation round their tower blocks. Driven by the mindless climate alarmism religion.

    We shall see if anyone in the state sector accepts responsibily for this, the cover up is already clearly underway.

    Spent say £3 million to insulate a tower block, to save perhaps 0.25% of this in heating costs PA (so it never remotely paid back in the lifetime of the building) and risk peoples lives in the process.

    I see that the HMS Queeen Elizabeth (the £ 6 billion aircraft carrier without aircraft) is finally going to sea today. Who took responsibility for this sick joke? How many lives might this £6 billion have saved if spent sensibly on better health care or health prevention? 1000 lives or so perhaps?

    1. APL
      June 26, 2017

      Lifelogic: “Who took responsibility for this sick joke?”

      Does it need aircraft, it’s just going through sea trials. All new vessels go through sea trials before they go into service.

      These vessels were one of the few good things that came out of Gordon Browns tenure. Even if it were an expensive bondoogle to buy his seat.

      As to having no aircraft, I’m told they will use the US F35, although there are rumours that the F35 program may be cancelled. Which would be a bit of a problem.

      Lifelogic: “How many lives might this £6 billion have saved if spent sensibly on better health care or health prevention?”

      You’re normally a quite sensible fellow. The UK is already spending 50% of it’s GDP on the Health and Welfare state. If that isn’t saving enough lives, then maybe they ain’t spending it right!

      1. APL
        June 26, 2017

        “The UK is already spending 50% of it’s GDP on the Health and Welfare state.”

        And barely 2% of GDP on defence.

      2. Lifelogic
        June 26, 2017

        That is why I said spent “sensibly”!

        1. APL
          June 27, 2017

          Lifelogic: “That is why I said spent “sensibly”!”

          Ok, the accepted GDP of the UK is £1.9T. We’re currently spending about 40% of that on the Welfare state.

          now £3bn certainly could save lives. But odds on, it would first be swallowed up by the NHS & Welfare administrative overhead. Next to nothing would get to the sharp end.

          How, by the way, would you measure the lives saved?

          1. RDM, also in France!
            June 30, 2017

            So what damage Devolution, not only did the Wales Referendum break the 1974 Referendum act (42% turn out < 70% required), it made it impossible for the shared resources like National Health Service to benefit from lower operating costs of the Union! It has been broken up into a large number of Trusts with their own bureaucracy's, their own middle managements, with administration pursuing differing (Political) agendas!

            So, the politics of the Health Service has become a competition between the main party's.

            And so, the MOD is always going to suffer!

      3. getahead
        June 26, 2017

        Never did understand why they scrapped the existing equipment, carriers and Harriers, before the replacements were anywhere near ready.

        1. ChrisS
          June 27, 2017

          A risk of having no carrier group was taken simply to save money !

          It’s not the only recent example :

          We originally had a plan to buy 13 Type 26 Frigates. This was subsequently been cut to eight. I suspect that if the politicians originally agreed to buy 13, the Navy had actually asked for 20.

          Exactly the same thing has been done to our purchase of a pathetically small number of US-built Maritime reconnaisance aircraft after the Nimrod debacle.

          The result is that we simply will not have enough aircraft, ships and submarines to protect one carrier, let alone two. They will never be able to be put in harms way without relying on NATO assets belonging to other countries to protect them.

          That has consequences : for example, it would rule out our fighting another Falklands-like event as those other countries, including the USA, would ensure that their NATO assets would not be made available to support us.

          1. RDM, also in France!
            June 30, 2017

            Can we start a campaign to buy the A10 or rebuild something like the Harrier, for QE, instead of the F35B.

    2. Dennis Zoff
      June 26, 2017

      £6+ billions for two ships: this kept thousands of people in employment over a number of years and ensured BAE Systems Surface Ships, Thales Group, Babcock Marine order books (share price) were healthy……along with national employment figures lower! Zing zing for both sides!

      Search other reasons for Political decisions. In general UK citizens are at the back of the queue for need….big business, banks, political careers are the main priority…and has always been thus so!

      Simplifying anything with logic, efficiency, productiveness, responsibility is wasted on technically ignorant Politicians.

      As I have mentioned before: the least technically qualified persons head ministries! Politicians therefore need a plethora of technical consultants to enable them to make a simple judgement, though when things go wrong, they have an innate ability to pass the buck onto somebody else with a flair that is sometimes quite breathtaking!

      John, you seek a simple solution?….there is none. However, Imo, basic technical education and training would be at the head of any list for changes in Government ministries.

      Rather than Politicains reading useless decrees, how about the Government start a revolution and start learning useful degrees that can give them the minimum of knowledge (protection) in any pertinent technical subject!

      It is sometimes therapeutic to come on this blog and sound off, but in reality nothing will change, just too much vested interest!

    3. Mitchel
      June 26, 2017

      And does the “£ 6 billion aircraft carrier without aircraft” have any escort vessels that actually work and might make it something more than a floating bulls eye?!

      1. Lifelogic
        June 26, 2017


      2. stred
        June 27, 2017

        Hypersonic anti-ship missiles have a range of 200 miles. The QE and PW will have to keep away from any shore or ship with these or be screened with other vulnerable ships. If they have been built for VTOL aircraft only and the F35 version is a turkey, perhaps we could buy back the Harriers from the US, otherwise, the ships will be the latest MoD mistake.

        1. APL
          June 27, 2017

          stred: “perhaps we could buy back the Harriers from the US .. ”

          I think you’ll find the US doesn’t have any Harriers either. The Harrier airframe is ancient. The F35 is a VT&L aircraft based on the Harrier concept.

          stred: “F35 version is a turkey”

          I too have heard it has problems, do you have any more substantial reasons, why?

          1. stred
            June 27, 2017

            I read that, like a turkey, it is too heavy to fly in competition with non- VTOL fighters, because of the extra lifting engines and thrust controls. It is also becoming so expensive that Trump wanted to cancel it. The US has ordered comparatively few and has not built carriers specifically for VTOL. From the pictures, the QE has a ramp at the bow, so perhaps they could add a catapult to use normal planes, or perhaps stick a rocket up its back end!

        2. libertarian
          June 28, 2017


          If you are interested in the facts about UK defence you probably need to follow/read the UK Defence Journal

          Read about the aircraft deployment for new HMS QE from the Captain of the ship here


          1. stred
            June 29, 2017

            Libertarian. Good read. He uses the name F35 but other articles name the F35B vertical take off with around 20 on board. It is carrying a load of helicopters too, but how close to an enemy coast will it be able to go? It will also carry US F35bs.

            The old Russian carrier can defend itself but the QE needs a defence group. The Russians do not seem to have found theirs- the only one- to have been very effective off Syria.

            They have described the QE as ‘a large easy target’. Presumably it will have to serve as part of a large international force if we are not to find our huge investment in aircraft and ships at the bottom of the sea.


          2. stred
            June 29, 2017

            Also, it is interesting to read that the F35B has to drop ammunition and fuel into the sea when it lands normally, so they are training to land it half vertically instead.

          3. APL
            June 30, 2017

            stred: “They have described the QE as ‘a large easy target’. ”

            Every military asset is a target.

            Illustrious sailing through the Suez canal, that was a large easy target.

            It would be better if international relations don’t go ‘hot’**, and if they don’t then HMS QE, will be a perfectly useful asset.

            ** And our defence minister taunting the Russians isn’t helping in that regard. Rather infantile if you ask me. Perhaps John Redwood might invite Fallon to shut up, until he has something informative to say.

    4. Lifelogic
      June 26, 2017

      But HMS QE will not be operational until 2021 they say!

      1. RDM, also in France!
        June 30, 2017

        The reason a lot of people are not happy about the F35B is that it is the politicians are relying on the “Inter-interoperability” argument, for a very expensive flop! They (DOD) should of restricted the focus of the development onto one specific type of aircraft! “Inter-Interoperability” will mean relying on the Americans (Satellites and Aircraft carriers) for both communication and air defense of QE and it’s F35B.

  7. alte fritz
    June 26, 2017

    Consultants are an alibi for those who want to avoid responsibility for a decision. In local or national democracy, decision makers are seldom expert in more than one or two fields so they must depend on advisers who may or may not give comprehensive advice. Elected members should not be criminally liable for relying on advice but perhaps they should resign and hold themselves up for re election so that voters can decide?

    As for Grenfell. McDonnell’s “murder” claim is a disgrace. Rather, let us work out how, in a country wrapped from head to toe in red tape, so dangerous a material could be used. I think the answer may lie in the PFI mentality, albeit that this building was council owned, that price is all that matters.

    1. a-tracy
      June 26, 2017

      True alte fritz.

      It will be the private company that supplied an inadequate product that is held responsible unless they can prove they warned the council of the danger of using the cheaper offering and had made a more expensive offer, then those people responsible for signing this off are culpable.

      This companies sales ledger must be investigated to find out where this product was fitted over four stories full stop. All clients public or private sector buying this product must be made aware asap by the investigators. The Company will bounce and the liability will fall on the rest of the population who take out insurance.

      1. Mark B
        June 26, 2017

        It may not be the contractors fault. If the specification at tender stated a certain type of panel, then that is what would have been supplied. It is up to the client and their advisers / consultants, if any, to specify the type unless they clearly left the decision either out or, to let the bidders decide which tiles to use.

    2. Lifelogic
      June 26, 2017

      Consultants are an alibi for those who want to avoid responsibility for a decision.

      Indeed, and worse still, the consultants very often tell the client exactly what they want to hear. This so they get instructed again next time!

      1. Mark B
        June 26, 2017

        Not always.

        Consultants are used if they have specialist skills, knowledge and experience the client does not have.


        Take it from someone who knows.

        1. Lifelogic
          June 26, 2017

          Indeed not always but quite often! Also they seek out the experts who will largely tell them what they want to hear.

        2. Edward2
          June 26, 2017

          I agree Mark
          Consultants are often the outsiders who come in and are brave enough to point out the weaknesses.
          Much to the irritation of the organisation.

    3. Monty
      June 26, 2017

      There is another possibility Alte Fritz. I am plodding through some specifications on the cladding material options. It occurs to me that the price differential between the flammable and non-flammable products was so insignificant, some other factor was coming into play. Possible contenders? What about the degree of thermal insulation? If the dangerous material was a much better thermal insulator than the safe one, it would have an enormous appeal to those who obsess about CO2 reduction.
      Other factors might include, weight, ease of application, service life. Ultimately only the architect can tell us why this particular product was chosen.
      But I do not believe that a sector that routinely spends other peoples money with reckless abandon took such a risk to save £5000 on a ten million pound project.

  8. Caterpillar
    June 26, 2017

    This is difficult. Will it be part of the Grenfell inquiry?

    Taking back causality chains for learning is one thing, for blame is another. If the causal chains go back to points in which different decisions should, not could, have been taken, then the follow up is what would be the opportunity cost to have someone skilled and prepared to be punished in that position? Finding the methodology to do this, let alone doing it sounds tough.

    What must absolutely be avoided is random ‘murder’ labeling as at least one politician is currently doing.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 26, 2017

      Indeed we have Corbyn calling for occupation of other’s property and his side kick calling it murder. Also uttering the complete lie that it was a lack of money.

      It was lots of money be spent very badly by incompetent idiots! Any decent engineer or scientist would have told them this after about five minutes of thought!

      Should I wrap this tall residential building in flammable insulation cladding so that any minor fire can roar up the outside of the building? Oh and we also order people to stay in their flats in the event of a fire!

      Er, well no, I do not actually think that is a very good plan Sir. Are you a compete idiot who has never even lit or seen a fire perhaps?

  9. stred
    June 26, 2017

    sorry- And why don’t the tenants management association…..

  10. Bob Dixon
    June 26, 2017

    Where is the current mayor of London?

    1. Mark B
      June 26, 2017

      A non-job for another, non-person at our expense.

  11. Nig l
    June 26, 2017

    If you are a conductor of an orchestra you do not need to be able to play every instrument but you should be able to read music and understand what the composer seeks to achieve and therefore be able to challenge, guide, advise etc the musicians on what comes out of their instruments.

    Of course Councillors and Ministers have to rely on their ‘Players’ but they should know enough to be able to challenge them etc. My problem is that they are often appointed for political reasons/expediency and the ability to parrot the party line, shamelessly dissemble etc rather than because of knowledge and ability. We have recently seen a City minister sacked because he knew nothing about the City and problems in Justice.

    They then get little or no training and I wonder how much time to do all the tasks so if everything works properly all is ok, if not they will not be equipped to ‘catch it’ before it drops.

    The Japanese in the 50s/60s helped by an American led the world in quality management and I was taught that they asked the question ‘why’ five times and I also learned not to always accept someone’s word but want proof or an assurance the adviser had proof. Too many people when asked a question answer ‘they think so’ not acceptable, the answer is yes or no or I will find out. If councillors and ministers had at least the ability and understanding to challenge robustly, some of these tragedies and many lesser problems maybe averted.

    The bottom line is we need trained ‘professionals’.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 26, 2017

      Well there were lots of “trained” professional who all seem to have missed something that was blindingly obvious to any sensible engineer! They could not see the wood for the trees or they were reluctant to rock the group think, climate alarmist, boat perhaps!

    2. Martyn G
      June 26, 2017

      ‘Why?’ That was the first question that sprang to my mind in this case. If we go back to the beginning of the cladding exercise on all these buildings, many of which are now deemed to be a fire hazard because of the cladding, we must ask ‘why was it thought necessary to do so?’ Accepting that there are energy conservation and visual appearance benefits, who or what triggered cladding of so many buildings in the first place?
      Did it arise from yet another EU directive, rubber-stamped through Parliament without careful scrutiny and perhaps also a result of the UK’s ill-conceived binding carbon save the planet legislation? It had to done and then cost got in the way, I suspect in many cases, hence the situation today across so many buildings, strangely it seems, almost all of which are in England…..

      1. Lifelogic
        June 26, 2017

        Driven by the green crap religion of course! Lets spend £10 million on cladding to save perhaps £10,000 PA in heating bills for the block.

        So that is a return of 0.1% on capital (before interest or depreciation) of say 8% PA. Great investment chaps “invest” £10 million and lose 7.9% of this per year!
        Even worse than HS2, windfarms or Hinkley C!

    3. Caterpillar
      June 26, 2017


      I think one of the big lessons in quality management from the gurus was often the failure is in the system, it may well not be in an individual or one place.

  12. alastir harris
    June 26, 2017

    Blame = whose insurance picks up the tab. The issue is surely the ability of the installation to retard fire, as required by the regulations. Ultimately I guess it will be settled by the lawyers, at stupid cost. Meanwhile, let’s hope the remainder of the problem is sorted in time.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 26, 2017

      Thousand of expensive unproductive lawers make a fortune and yet all that was needed was one sensible engineer to say no we do not want them wrapping in flammable inulation (to save virtually nothing in heating costs)!

  13. NHSGP
    June 26, 2017

    Advisers advise, and politicians decide. The media reports decisions and reactions to them. That is the constitutional theory.


    So when it comes to the 12.5 trillion pound debt mountain run up by the state, it looks like you’re blaming the advisers.

    Just like all bankers taking the can for the sins of a few, and those voters who defaulted on their debts.

    Somehow I don’t think it’s going to pan out that way. The politicians in power who get forced to reveal the £420,000 per person debt that’s been stuffed down the back of the sofa get done.

    But then again, you’ve elected a speaker who was warned about a security weakness on Westminster bridge in advance. He’s got away with that .

  14. Horatio McSherry
    June 26, 2017

    As much as people (including me) like to blame the councils for everything, in the case of Grenfell Tower there are a few possibilities; none of which the council members could really be responsible for. On the fire spread itself:

    If the cladding didn’t meet British/EU standards, it shouldn’t be available:

    * If it was, the people selling it are partly responsible.
    * If the cladding didn’t meet those standards, the designers still chose it, and the Main contractor still purchased it, and Building Control passed it; the designer, MC, and Building Control are responsible too.

    If the designers chose a cladding that met standards and building regs, but (depending on the type of contract)…:

    * was over-ruled by the Main Contractor who purchased cheaper cladding: The MC is responsible (and arguably the designer to a lesser extent for not raising it with the authorities).
    * the MC changed the cladding without anyone’s knowledge: The MC is responsible.
    * the Client (the council) ordered the MC/designer to use cheaper cladding: The Client is still not responsible. Clients don’t necessarily have technical knowledge: it’s what they pay the MC and designers for. If they insisted a certain type of cladding had to be used, the MC and designer should have refused.

    If the cladding passed all standards and was installed correctly, then the regulations and the manufacturers are responsible.

    If you want to blame the councils for something, it’s their over-reaction to the whole sorry saga.

    1. stred
      June 26, 2017

      Good analysis Horatio. Fortunately, it appears from the planning docs that engineers, not architects were running the Grenfell design. Your last point is arguable. If the client or in this case the council ordered the contractor to use cheaper cladding, they did have expertise in their own Building Control Dept or should have taken advice. If they still ignored expert advice then they are responsible. The contractor should have refused to build illegally and gone to court if necessary.

      In answer to the questions below from agricola,
      1. Page 124 of Part B of regs gives fire resistance periods in relation to height, type and whether the building is sprinklered. Above 30m not permitted without sprinklers. This was a major conversion and presumably Building Control should have used the regs. Manufacturers use independent testing by BRE and others to demonstrate compliance.
      2. Building Control- LA.
      3.No, unless you want to be sued or go to prison.
      4. Total, ditto.

      1. stred
        June 26, 2017

        PS. architects are a lot cheaper than judges if HMG would like to save a few bob.

        1. stred
          June 26, 2017

          Not much chance of this info being allowed, but the lunchtime news showed (named ed) panels being removed off a block of flats. Their brochure refers to the recent fire and directs to the information on real life fires and tests. Clearly, …. insulation has been tested to ISO standards and can be fire resistant to the standards required by part B of the building regulations. It even shows the standard BRE testing. Why the samples are failing is a mystery.

        2. Horatio McSherry
          June 26, 2017

          Tell me about it! 🙂

          We now see that all types of cladding are being dismantled left, right and centre, which doesn’t help. This is where the councils are failing; by running about like headless chickens. Grenfell was an accident where all sorts of things combined to make the disaster.

          Deal with the cladding type used on Grenfell first; which is reported to be compsite, but I’ve seen some details which refer to it as rainscreen with (god knows whose) insulation behind, which opens a further can of worms.

          I think it’s now time for everyone to calm down and let the investigators investigate.

          1. stred
            June 27, 2017

            The Grenfell planning docs show a ventilated cavity behind the rain screen. Some consultants say these should be fitted with intumescent strips at the perimeter. See Euan Mearns site.

            Maybe JR could set up a consultancy for headless chickens, to help them calm down. Going cheep.

  15. agricola
    June 26, 2017

    There must be a point, usually at the head of an organisation, at which responsibility is taken. In a technical sense this person who maybe a political appointment cannot be expected to know everything that regulates the working of the department he heads. He or she has the responsibility of appointing or in a political organisation of accepting the competence of those who serve as experts in particular disciplines.

    The problem comes within the ethos of the organisation being managed. Failure in private industry usually means you leave. Failure in government among advisors, civil servants and consultants does not seem to lead to them seeking new employment. At worst they move sideways. The perception is that at this level there is no acceptance of responsibility. They never appear in public for a judicial grilling from the likes of Paxman, they stay well below the radar and let the minister take the flack.

    In terms of the Tower Inferno,

    1. What standards, BSI or ISO apply to cladding. Are they adequately written and who is responsible for their application.

    2. Who or what organisation has responsibility for vetoing anything outside laid down standards.

    3. Can financial considerations overrule safety regulations and who takes responsibility for doing this.

    4. What responsibility rests with contractors who accept for commercial reasons to do things outside laid down standards.

    This is for the enquiry judge to decide. Conformation that the control system failed is seen in the speed with which decisions on other sites are now being called into question. A politician local or national choosing to take responsibility is a moral one. If either were founts of knowledge in their area of responsibility then they would not need armies of civil servants, advisors or consultants. I will judge the outcome of this judicial enquiry on the numbers of civil servants, advisors and consultants who are told to seek other employment, with their failure noted in their career logbook.

    1. stred
      June 26, 2017

      If a client employs a haulage contractor to take goods from A to B, then tells him to take an illegal turn to save time, the haulage contractor will still be liable for illegal driving.

      The building itself has to comply with the law in the form of regulations. If the designer has clearly designed something which does not comply then the contractor has a responsibility to point this out to the building inspector and the designer has to make it comply. This has been so for a very long time. It appears that no-one
      followed the regulation or checked the product, which was clearly burning and unlike
      a fire resisting panel in previous fires.

      Now we are being told that the latest tests are not the same as the ones agreed when the building was designed as the Local Authorities Assn has changed the rules. What next, are we going to have to pull down most of the buildings in the country because the government has changed the laws?

  16. Ian Wragg
    June 26, 2017

    Speaking of the cladding issue even a school boy would tell you it’s criminal to use plastic for cladding.
    Who wrote the building regs. Who tested the material.
    Why was the cladding necessary. We’re not allowed to mention it was the ruinous CCA which is responsible.
    Hinckley Point has just gone up another £3 billion and another 2 years extension. Yet again politicians and civil servants wasting money on untested technology.
    BBC in overdrive because David Davis says he’s not 100 % sure of a trade deal. Who is 100 % sure of anything.

    1. forthurst
      June 26, 2017

      Those who were variously burned to death or poisoned by cyanide gas in the Grenfell Tower inferno were the victims of the indecent haste to implement insane and ruinous savetheplanet regulations emanating from the Brussels regime. The insulation attached was specified to meet not only contemporary regulations but the higher standards anticipated when buildings will be ‘nearly zero-energy’ and all energy will be generated by savetheplanet technology; as a result the cladding was not only flammable but would have accelerated the spread of the flames up the building.

      It seems that members of parliament are on the whole two stupid to realise they are the victims of various international conspiracies against the European peoples, to destroy their economies, to destroy their demographies, to destroy their national identities, to involve them in ruinous and unnecessary wars. On the whole from the PM down, they are too stupid to see that those who are part of these conspiracies can be found at the very heart of the governance of our country.

      1. ian wragg
        June 26, 2017

        It seems that members of parliament are on the whole two stupid to realise they are the victims of various international conspiracies against the European peoples, to destroy their economies, to destroy their demographies, to destroy their national identities, to involve them in ruinous and unnecessary wars. On the whole from the PM down, they are too stupid to see that those who are part of these conspiracies can be found at the very heart of the governance of our country.

        Correct and suitably assisted by the likes of Hammond, Clegg, Bliar, Mandelson and hundreds of others.
        The EU is the prime mover in these matters and the UK Parliament has delegated all responsibility to them. They are still trying to retain control by making us a vassal state of the ECJ.

    2. Bob
      June 26, 2017

      @Ian Wragg

      “Who is 100 % sure of anything.”

      I am 100% sure that the BBC is not fit for purpose.

  17. A.Sedgwick
    June 26, 2017

    Local government is moribund, ineffective, archaic and there are way too many councils and over 6000 councillors. In the 1960s the “Establishment” was derided and satirised but nothing has changed although the recent referendums potentially brought about some real change in democracy post war. Yet the EU vote is not being accepted by many politicians who should know better. A Labour Government failed to achieve an elected second chamber. Devolution not to include England remains inexplicable and unacceptable. Central Government e.g. Treasury mandarins does have too much control and local government should be more regional and self funding, leaving the EU, scrapping VAT and having local sales tax should then be a serious alternative to business rates.

    The Grenfell fire has highlighted some serious flaws in our basic governance and the more fundamental issues of housing and a rapid and to many unsustainable population growth.

    1. Ed Mahony
      June 26, 2017

      ‘to many unsustainable population growth’

      – I agree. First we need to tackle immigration from outside Europe with people who are more different in terms of culture than immigrants from inside Europe, with 45% of EU immigrants with a job to go to versus 22% for non EU immigrants.

      1. Ed Mahony
        June 26, 2017

        BTW, trade deals with countries outside the EU, are inevitably going to include deals on increased immigration into the UK (India, for one, has been demanding increase in visas in exchange for post-Brexit trade deal).

      2. Bob
        June 26, 2017

        @Ed Mahony

        “we need to tackle immigration from outside Europe with people who are more different in terms of culture than immigrants from inside Europe, “

        isn’t this what is usually referred to by “liberals” as racism?

        1. Ed Mahony
          June 26, 2017

          ‘isn’t this what is usually referred to by “liberals” as racism?’

          – also, who cares what ‘Liberals’ think ..

    2. Nig l
      June 26, 2017

      How much would be saved if tax and NI were rolled into one? I believe resistance is because Ministers are worried that would show how much we are really paying in tax as if we are stupid and therein lies the problem. Politicians and paid officials have still not come to terms with or worked out how to deal with the transparency afforded by the internet and that it never forgets and has enfranchised everyone at the input of a password.

      The Remain campaign was and is predicated on a belief we are all stupid. The quality of the comments on JRs blog shows this is misguided and ultimately, in terms of civil unrest, potentially dangerous.,

      1. Bob
        June 26, 2017

        @Nig l
        A few years ago the PAYE and NI were paid into separate HMRC accounts, but they now both go into one bank account as a lump sum.

        The other con trick is having employer and employee contributions, which is obviously done to obscure the amount paid.

        While on the subject, I believe that there has been a campaign for petrol stations to issue receipts showing the duty and vat separately on the customer’s receipt, and possibly an HMRC logo on the sign post where the prices are displayed.

        Plebs are more interested in tv soaps or soccer than they are in trying to understand why they need payday loans to get through the month.

      2. a-tracy
        June 27, 2017

        Nig 1, how can your suggestion save any money? For one thing re-writing all the payroll programs and re-educating employers would cost Employer’s a fortune. There is no benefit as the start point to pay National insurance is £8164pa or £157 pw and the start point for tax currently £11,500 or £221.15.

        National Insurance is still a contributory record “If you earn between £113 and £157 a week, your contributions are treated as having been paid to protect your National Insurance record.” I personally never want to see this removed as it show it is an employment insurance policy and not just TAX. If you chip away at this you give government carte blanche to remove your rights enshrined when this insurance system was set up in my opinion. I think we should fight any change.

    3. APL
      June 26, 2017

      A.Sedgwick: “and a rapid and to many unsustainable population growth.”

      According to government figures, the live birth rate among UK population is declining. Add in abortion ( 10,000,000 since the ’67 abortion act ) and birth control. Coercing women to take up employment rather than raise their families.

      And you can see why.

      The governments solution? Replace the British with foreigners.

  18. Bert Young
    June 26, 2017

    Before making any kind of a decision all parties involved have to consider all the evidence put before them . Those who are appointed to make the ultimate decision , having weighed up the detail , then have to investigate further if they are not satisfied . These individuals will be held to account if anything goes wrong . Most things are straightforward , some are not .

    In matters of safety expert testimony is the only recourse ; advice from them is usually backed by the legal system . The media often highlight situations that they believe reflect the interest of their readers ; they too have an over-riding body who can decide whether , at times , they have gone too far . The public will not always be convinced that any of these processes are right ; they then have MPs to appeal to who can represent their case .

    Nothing is perfect – and never will be . The Grenfell disaster will cost the country dear in many respects ; it has happened and we must all learn from it and move on .

  19. Denis Cooper
    June 26, 2017

    There are indications that if there is to be blame to be apportioned it should be restricted to those who approved the tests used as the basis of the current building regulations.


    “Whilst the cladding met building regulations the fire service said it did not meet the latest Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) test criteria.”

    The “latest” government test criteria, under which so far there has been a 100% failure rate for samples of cladding taken from a variety of towers across the country.

    1. APL
      June 26, 2017

      “Whilst the cladding met building regulations the fire service said it did not meet the latest Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) test criteria.”

      My understanding is that building construction and materials is an ‘occupied field’ thus, not the responsibility of the UK government, but the responsibility of the European Union administration.

      In this case, the authorities ( British or EU ) have put environmental concerns above fire safety.

      Muppets, the lot of ’em!

      1. Denis Cooper
        June 26, 2017

        There seems to be no clarity about this so far. As least as far as I have seen it is not being said that the “latest” test criteria are the same as the test criteria which were being applied when the regulations were formulated, but nor on the other hand is it being openly stated that the new test is more severe than the previous test. I am inclined to think that the later may well be the case, given that 100% of samples taken from a range of buildings are failing. As for where the tests originated, that is yet another issue and I would not jump to conclusions.

    2. Mark B
      June 26, 2017

      Are the DCLG criteria mandatory or advisory ? Because in law that is a very big difference.

      1. Denis Cooper
        June 26, 2017

        Another undetermined issue.

    3. Mark
      June 26, 2017

      I suspect the tests that are being run now are something like the tests that should have been mandated by the EU originally (and will perhaps be proposed to them). The problem for the greenies is that the insulation and cladding with insulation in it fails as a system, so their grand design to force everyone to spend money on uneconomic exterior insulation is at risk. It is clear that the government think that the standards should be toughened up, and I think we can all agree on that.

  20. Shieldsman
    June 26, 2017

    Why was the insulation fitted in the first place?
    Not to reduce the energy bills of the residents, any savings were incidental.
    The primary aim was to meet the CO2 reduction demands of the Climate Change Act. Phasing out of fossil fuel electricity generation, then the ultimate closure of the old nuclear plants means supply cannot meet demand. It was therefore an attempt to reduce demand on a dwindling 24/7 electricity supply.

  21. Duncan
    June 26, 2017

    The public sector is and has been deliberately constructed in a Byzantium fashion to achieve a set of circumstances in which state employees never have to take responsibility for their actions and are never prosecuted in a criminal court of law.

    The above doesn’t surprise in the least. The State itself is a huge vested interest whose only aim is the protection of itself and its privileges and it will compromise the end-user and the taxpayer without even a shred of remorse or regret. Mid-Staffs and the abuse scandals are classic examples where we all know who is to blame and yet the strength of the unions, politicians and public officials conspire to insulate those responsible from necessary sanction

    The public has given up caring about such things. They know no one takes the blame when things go wrong and they also appreciate that the taxpayer will always be abused to finance the cost of such failures.

    Even the tories have given up on reforming the State as they know such a course of action attracts negative political headlines. Jeremy Hunt’s war with junior doctors a case in point. The default now is to throw the taxpayer on the bonfire and let them finance political decisions that abuse public money to prevent damaging headlines

    Who cares any more? I don’t for I see that this nation has been deliberately sabotaged, pushed leftwards, embraced Keynes, rejected fiscal discipline, rejected normality and allowed this once great country to become a slave to the politics of the minority. Our freedoms and our all we own are at risk from a ever growing, rapacious State

    1. Duncan
      June 26, 2017

      correction – Byzantine not ‘Byzantium’

  22. Yossarion
    June 26, 2017

    John, rather than evict all these people from their home and find new homes would it not be cheaper and better to employ a security firm to act as a fire picket in the blocks, finding all these houses with an already overloaded system would seem impossible from the outside.

    1. Bob
      June 26, 2017

      As a landlord I am required to have regular portable appliance testing (PAT), electrical wire and gas safety inspections and legionella risk assessments.

      My other businesses are also subjected by law to a plethora of safety inspections and assessments, including PAT and asbestos regulations.

      Does this not apply to local authority housing? or is a blind turned?
      I even had a visit from the local authority insisting that I display “no smoking” signs ON THE OUTSIDE WALLS !

      Maybe if they spent less time harassing small businesses they would more time to get their own houses in order.

    2. Timaction
      June 26, 2017

      To much like common sense for our political class and it’s consultants and advisers. All people out here are saying this. They,ll catch up…… eventually.

  23. acorn
    June 26, 2017

    On the off chance it might get passed moderation, Google the following inside quotes.

    “You Cannot Run a Public Service like a Business, and Here’s Why Scriptonite / April 4, 2013”

    Politicians don’t understand the difference between Social Efficiency and Cost Efficiency; in fact, Conservatives are totally blind to it, proffering simplistic “market competition” solutions to everything.

    On a Venn diagram, the private sector is totally enclosed by the Public sector. The former can’t exist without the latter making the rules to sustain it from self destruction or market dominance by a few big players, like has been allowed to happen in the UK.

    A government that understood that would know it can use its currency issuing power and its fiscal policy, to make its private sector first and foremost, deliver the goods and services it wants for social purposes, at the price it wants to pay.

    After that it is free to create whatever it wants, but within the rules set by the public sector. That is if the legislators bothered to make any in-between Punch & Judy parliament sessions.

    1. libertarian
      June 26, 2017


      What ever you do, never check the facts of how things actually worked and what free markets created BEFORE government stuck its oar in

      NEVER look up Humanprogress.org to see what free markets achieved everywhere at all points in history , just dont look you wont like it

  24. libertarian
    June 26, 2017

    First and foremost we have far too much government and far too many politicians

    Politicians ( and the public sector that supports them) seem to believe that all answers, solutions and investments are down to them….. They are NOT

    They should be seeking to do far far far less than currently. Government at central and local level should be ring fenced. Handling a few vital public services and they should be assessed and rewarded on the quality of their service.

    Politicians and the public sector are not remotely innovative, creative or ground breaking. Everything comes down to more money. We never ever get to hear from the leaders of quasi government organisations about the leadership of their organisations we only ever hear about austerity, cuts and so called underfunding. They are NEVER challenged in the media about the waste and unjustified jobs like diversity officers etc.

    We need far more localism in our government structures and far far less centralised command and control

  25. MPC
    June 26, 2017

    I find distinguishing between accountability and responsibility useful in work. Responsible people do things (e.g. provide technical advice to local authority councillors), accountable people get things done (councillors authorise and progress-monitor technical works). We really need to await the public inquiry into Grenfell before allocating blame as the inquiry is likely to be extremely thorough. There can’t be many councillors with sufficient technical knowledge to challenge technical advice about cladding etc on buildings. Equally, technical advisors give advice based on current standards only.

    1. Mark B
      June 26, 2017

      Google RACI Matrix





  26. hefner
    June 26, 2017

    All very good questions from JR. To me the only missing angle is the financial one. When the dotations from the Central Government to the Local Authorities decrease, it is fairly obvious that savings have to be made one way or the other. Those can be made on all sorts of budgets (schools for example, or monitoring of building projects, or road repairs, or …).
    The strong incentives for saving are likely to result in “cutting corners” going from full to no knowledge of the potential consequences.

    Also in this particular case, why a cladding not allowed to be used over heights corresponding roughly to a sixth floor in the USA (the height of the highest ladders) appears to be used over the full height of UK buildings.
    Why, at which stage and with which understanding (if any) of the potential risks was the decision taken? Who is responsible? Is there anybody to blame?
    It could be put to those who have over the years created the country’s debt, those wanting to reduce the deficit, those financial officers in Local Governments trying to square the circle of shrinking budgets, …
    At the end, we all bare some responsibility in the society that we have created through our votes.

    1. Edward2
      June 26, 2017

      If you can’t afford to use safe materials then don’t do the project.
      However the best panels would have only added a small percentage to the project cost.
      The real reason will eventually be revealed.
      Money for local authorities isn’t the main factor in my opinion.

  27. English Pensioner
    June 26, 2017

    Surely one can’t blame the person at the top for everything that goes wrong unless he neglects to do something that should he should have done at his level. In a case like the construction of these buildings, he would need to ensure that appropriately qualified people with the necessary experience were in charge of the project; the man at the top couldn’t possibly know and check everything about building construction from the initial footings and soil tests through to the finishing and all the electrical and fire regulations.

    Consider just one stage before design and work can even start. Ground engineers would be employed to take borings, evaluate them in the laboratory and advise as to the depth and type of the footings which should be incorporated in the design. It should follow like this through the whole construction, with suitable experts being involved where appropriate. Quite reasonably, if the person at the top takes, and follows, such advice, one can hardly blame him for something going wrong.
    The same applies when it comes to things like the cladding. The man at the top can’t be expected to personally make checks as its suitability, nor indeed should his staff; If it is certified by a supplier as meeting whatever current regulations exist, surely this should be enough.
    Surely this applies throughout the whole of life in all fields, no single person can know the lot and responsibility has to be distributed as necessary. I would consider the local councillors or the government are to blame only if someone had drawn their attention to a potential problem and they’d failed to have it looked into.

    As a side issue, whilst I am reasonably sure that the building at the time would have met the appropriate fire regulations, I was surprised to read that it only have a single set of stairs and no separate fire escape. Possible this and other tower blocks were ahead of their time and the regulations hadn’t changed as fast as building development.

  28. Kenneth
    June 26, 2017

    John, I think it is perfectly possible to have clear lines of responsibility.

    Trouble is, such a sensible regime is impossible while we have media which insists on being a player rather than a reflector of events.

    The result is that politicians, local or national, are taking far too much account of media opinion before they come to a decision.

    The priority should surely be to make decisions based on the democratic wishes of the People and not on the preferences of unelected journalists.

    The BBC could play a crucial role in providing unbiased facts without opinions, speculation and campaigns. Because of its vast budget, it is the only viable long term employer for journalists and therefore tends to have a heavy influence on journalism across the spectrum as they ape the BBC style.

    The BBC should stop treating itself as a newspaper with an angle. It should not have an angle on the news. It certainly should stop its use of speculation, running order, choice of interviewees (including “experts”) to emphasis a particular angle but should present facts on a more formulaic basis.

    There are plenty of examples where the electorate have wanted one thing but the media wanted the opposite.

    This should not be happening. If we had plural media without the dominance of one player, I am sure there would be an aggregate equivalence to the views of the population and those of journalism.

    The obvious example is immigration where for decades, we have presided over large scale immigration which has been favoured by the BBC but not favoured by the electorate. Another example is the eu. The BBC was obviously in favour of the transition of the common market to the political organisation it became and so it happened without any authorisation from the People. If the BBC had not existed I am sure we would have left the eu years ago (or it would have been a very different organisation).

    We cannot say if decisions that affected the safety of the residents of the horrible Grenfell tragedy were unduly poisoned by media interference but I suspect that we will draw all the wrong conclusions and apply the wrong solutions because, once again, they will be made to please the BBC.

    1. Bob
      June 26, 2017

      A splendid assessment of the BBC by Kenneth !

      If it turns out that decisions to clad were driven by CO2 targets, then I would say that the “science is settled” BBC are culpable.


  29. Prigger
    June 26, 2017

    “Who is to blame? Where does the power lie? ”
    ” Did people understand what leaving the EU actually meant?”

    “Signing off” something in the real world of Health and Safety is absolutly and legally clear. The names of the persons to blame are printed and personally signed .END OF STORY

  30. Geoff not Hoon
    June 26, 2017

    The issue of coastal and river flooding is sadly just the same as that now supposedly under review for tower block cladding. Government, LA,s, Environment Agency, River Authorities must have manuals telling them the excuses to use for inaction. When the proverbial hits the fan no one is responsible or accountable for the simple fact that no one was ever given clearly defined responsibility with a budget and the tools to do the job. LL is so right, were this a private business it would have clear lines of who runs what and who carries the can. Sadly it is the opposite when the state is ‘responsible’.

  31. John B
    June 26, 2017

    “Much of government is a slave to the ideas of old economists and other thinkers.”

    Unfortunately that is not so – if it were they would be ‘slave’ to the ideas of Adam Smith, Frédéric Bastiat, Jean-Baptiste Say, Richard Cobden, F A Hayek, Milton Friedman – to name a few – instead of worshipping their economist god John Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx to bring ‘social justice’ – whatever that is.

    Then we would have free market capitalism, not central directed economies, corporatism and crony capitalism; we would have free trade not ‘trade deals’.

    We would be considerably richer and more content. But then we would have little need for the plans and schemes of politicians and their flocks of advisers, doing ‘what is best’ (how do they know?), and what they think is ‘right’ (right for whom?)… and repeating the same failures over and over again.

    Reply They are slaves = just not to the old thinkers you like!

    1. Peter Martin
      June 26, 2017

      Keynes’ ideas don’t have to be used to provide social justice but they can be. They are primarily directed to ensuring that any economy runs at its optimal capacity. They were first tested out during WW2 when the mistakes of WW1 were sought to be avoided. Then Govt spent what it consider necessary for the war effort without regard to the wider macroeconomic consequences. They simply created too much inflation.

      There was a smarter Keynesian approach in WW2 which enabled the resources of the economy to be fully utilised in the war effort but without causing excessive inflation.

      1. APL
        June 27, 2017

        Peter Martin: “They are primarily directed to ensuring that any economy runs at its optimal capacity.”

        Which they fail abysmally to do.

        Peter Martin: “Then Govt spent what it consider necessary for the war effort without regard to the wider macroeconomic consequences. ”

        The first World war may have been considered a first order priority, in that losing the war, would have meant loosing control of the economy.

        Peter Martin: “They simply created too much inflation.”

        Are you saying that thanks to Keynes there was better economic management during and after WWII which led to less inflation than otherwise would have occurred?

        Because I’m afraid that’s not correct.

        I suggest you look at a graph of inflation since 1900. You’ll see that, yes inflation did increase in the 1920s – 1930s, but the massive inflation really took off in the 1950s. After the war and apparently at the height of Keynes influence.

  32. Edge of doom
    June 26, 2017

    Guilty people in this context know who they are. The Head of an MBC knows who they are or has immediate access to their names, job titles, signed documents.

    “debate” is okay as an exercise for law students about what measure of guilt, type of punishment is required.

    A lowly trades union shop steward perhsp doing a Health an safety check in an MPs office picks out certain things which he believes should be reviewed by others of greater expertise or which he himself feels is on immediate danger in line with his own knowledge and training. He MUST sign his report. You borrow money, you MUST sign the application. There are no PPI “refunds”in Health and Safety. It is far more exacting than a loan application. Divorcees will recall that no-one asked concerning their marriage signing:Who is to blame? Where does the power lie? YOU are to blame. The power lies with YOU, obviously. ( in the UK in a traditional British marriage in C of E …one has to add nowadays )

  33. William Long
    June 26, 2017

    As so often, just one phrase says it all: ‘Advisers advise; politicians decide’. The politician is, or should be, always accountable. ‘Accountable’ implies a higher level than ‘Responsible’. The ‘ Accountable’ person takes the ultimate credit for success but equally must be prepared to resign after failure. This is what the electorate are entitled to and how Governments used to function, either locally or nationally; now the accountable person’s first action after a failure is to look around for an official on whom he can pin the blame. I wonder if anyone at all will resign or lose their job as a result of the Grenfell Tower horror? The accountable Council member should have gone already; the local people deserve no less. The person might say he relied on advice, but even a modern politician after all the deaths could not say he was right to do so, and if the faulty cladding was a new procedure it does not require a high degree of character or determination to insist on seeing it tested, which must have revealed its inability to resist fire.

  34. ale bro
    June 26, 2017

    UK law makes ts impossible for company directors to delegate away their health and safety responsibilities.

    This suggests there will be no hiding place for health and safety directors HMOs and local authorities.

  35. Epikouros
    June 26, 2017

    From your comments and observations it is obvious that government and the public sector are not fit for purposes or for the roles that they perform. Reinforcing a long held belief of mine that government and the public sector create more problems than they ever solve and and is the wrong system to use to control our lives and affairs. Certainly we need national institutions but not to make decisions but to facilitate decisions made by other means.

    To find an alternative system it is only necessary to learn from the methods we used to create the many benefits that we enjoy today which was from exchange and interaction of individuals. In fact it is democracy working as it should where there is a 100% turn out to vote not at the ballot box but with feet and wallets in which every vote counts and produces an outcome that generally all benefit from. The moral to this is that it is not a few experts and armchair experts; politicians, civil servants and the like deciding what the people should do but the people ensuring that they facilitate the wishes of the people or be replaced by those who do.

    Of course putting this type of government system in place is a lot easier said than done but given our collective ingenuity and when allowed our brilliance at innovation it is not impossible. However first we have to do a complete U turn in our thinking but as yet we do not have the wit or maturity and least of all inclination to attempt to do so. The full gambit of the doing quite the opposite will have to run it’s course doing more of what we are doing now and worse. Only when the full realisation of the enormous error we are making by retaining our current systems dawns on us will we change.

  36. Auf Wiedersehen!
    June 26, 2017

    It may well be there is a connection between what private and public technical persons consider “acceptable” and what the ruling Labour or Tory Council would like them to find “acceptable “. I have personally seen this to be the case in a different matter in a Labour Authority.

    Trials, not government investigations and reviews by Committees, are more likely to bring into the light any connection. Experience tells me, there will be connections. Our political representatives including Head of MBCs do not live and work in a separate “Councillor or Head of Council Land” completely separated from their “advisors” ..some of whom depend on them to keep their jobs in Maintenance and LA Architect Departments…also companies including local newspapers are financilly dependent on the Ruling Political set-up.
    When I am Emperor, most Council leaders and three tiers down will emigrate within weeks. I hope they go to Germany so as to slow down our major European competitor and dangerously dilute the individual morality of their German citizens who could very well be badly influenced, hopefully.

  37. Dennis Zoff
    June 26, 2017

    If the BBC is the only source for information that is being sought, then tread very carefully. He who pays the piper calls the tune….and in this case the EU, which is never going to be trusted to bring an unbiased opinion. Shock horror!

    I can suggest many other media outlets that will provided a less biased agenda and more informed unbiased opinions, though this itself is becoming rather difficult these days.

    In general the MSM can no longer be trusted to present informed facts…it is now the presenter of its own facts/narrative/bias…bought by the highest bidder? Sifting through journalist dross is quite a challenge!

  38. Ian Russell
    June 26, 2017

    REPEAT with typos fixed.
    My son in law is a fireman. He told me yesterday:
    – The firemen in Grenfell Tower broke every rule in the book to save lives.
    – He has been banging the drum for four years about no training for tower blocks.
    – He has now been asked to run 5 training sessions in the next 4 weeks.
    – Alarm systems are inadequate or non-existent; firemen need a system with an override to clear the building in an emergency.

    One wonders about priorities. Was it cheaper to fit cladding than install alarms and sprinklers?

    Slavish adherence to regulations and tests is not the answer. Everyone involved in any form of project should be required to inform themselves about the current state of knowledge and act as appropriate. Such a law may exist but is it followed?

    The government should require all the associations and bodies involved in each area to take concerted action to come up with guidelines and codes of practice and keep them up to date. If people ignore that advice they will be culpable regardless of whether this or that regulation or test was satisfied.

    It is all very well looking to blame individuals but the government needs find ways to fix the system too. One way is knock heads together to apply common sense as well as technical expertise.

    Put a time limit on it, say 6-18 months depending on the subject. Everyone would have the right to contribute but also the responsibility to accept the conclusions. No reason why minority views should not be recorded for people to consider when arriving at decisions.

    For instance, a minority might take the view that no flammable insulation panels should be used for cladding even if a building is under 18 metres high. Architects would then have to demonstrate they had designed each building to prevent the spread of fire.

    Some years ago I was involved with an employment tribunal when “experts” were diagnosing all sorts of mental health problems. Mr Justice Lindsay put a stop to that by enunciating 4 categories he would accept from WHO definitions and diagnostics (highly likely to be accepted) to the expert’s own definition and diagnostics (highly like to be thrown out).

    We need clarity like that in all areas.

  39. Atlas
    June 26, 2017

    Hmm, the Romans were here before us on this “Who checks the checkers” problem.

    Off topic: Are we being softened up to continue paying large sums of money into the EU for a ‘transitional period’ ? This conveniently bails out the Germans from making a fair payment to those who suffer in the EU from the German imposed rules they have to follow.

  40. Mark
    June 26, 2017

    Today I hear that the government are saying that the fire regulations need to be amended. No surprise, given the researches I reported on in the previous thread on Grenfell Tower. What they have yet to confess is that it may take some effort in Brussels even to be allowed to amend the regulation – at best, the government can meantime issue advice. Were we back in control of our own laws, Parliament could legislate as soon as a properly considered technical opinion was available. With the EU as backstop, Parliament is absolved, and so are all the regulators and enforcers of regulation.

    What also seems to be emerging is that the lack of suitable regulation and indeed the choices of materials made for tower blocks has probably been a consequence of the desire to be seen to be”green” regardless of cost – either economic, or tragically, in lives. It really is time that “green” ceased to be an excuse for so much ill thought out legislation and investment, and instead resulted in critical examination of the science, engineering and economics of what is being proposed. We need to find a way to inject such common sense.

  41. Richard Butler
    June 26, 2017

    Some Brexit ammo for you John;

    UK will end up with a Ukraine-style Brexit, says top German MEP.

    The Scottish MEP often described as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right hand man has claimed Brexit will end up as a Ukraine-style free trade agreement.

    The EU-Ukrainian deal provides preferential access to EU markets, but does not insist on free movement of workers, a key sticking point for hard Brexiteers.

    Mr McAllister said: “I believe it will be a British model and it will be closest to Ukraine, with a deep and comprehensive free trade deal and partnership on security.

    “In five or seven years time, it will be something similar. The idea you can leave the EU in two years – nobody in Brussels thinks that’s feasible.


  42. The Human Jungle
    June 26, 2017

    I should also say. I personally have seen whole blocks with their firedoors wedged open even with elaborate wedges on hot days.You see it is unbelievably, in- humanly hot the higher you go in a block.
    You think you can’t sleep in the heat of your home..semi-detached???? You should try it at the top floors of a Tower Block with even all your windows open. A blind eye is turned to the whole wedging of all doors top to bottom on all levels by resident wardens and residents themselves.. They need to sleep too.
    No-one is going to admit to it. In truth only a few people actually do it. But no-one takes the wedges out. “It wasn’t me, but phew, thank hheavens someone did it!!!!”
    A line of investigation by NON-politicians, for sure.. What was the temperature on the day of the fire in the evening with all the collected families engaged in celebrations? Isn’t it true there were many wide awake?

  43. Derek Henry
    June 26, 2017

    The real issue here was austerity on the false assumption that taxes fund government spending. It really is that simple.

    All one needs to do is follow the actual accounting between HM Treasury and the BOE. It is not difficult.

    Our taxes fund nothing they are destroyed every night of the week in the overnight interbank market so that..

    a) The commercial banks can balance their reserves to zero.

    b) The BOE can meet its overnight interest rate.

    Taxes take currency out of the system which is a huge problem if they are too high but their main purpose is to control inflation.

    Taxes should be cut to promote growth in the economy. If taxes are too high you get unemployment if they are too low you get inflation. They are the thermostat on the wall of the economy.

    It’s time to tell rich people we don’t need their taxes to fund our public services it is a lie a huge myth that politicians use to promote their ideology.

    Then and only then can we have a truthful debate on a national level about our public services. Until then we are only deluding ourselves and putting a straight jacket on the economy and what we can all achieve.

    We’ve left the gold standard it’s time we acted like it. The first political party that tells the truth will hold power for the next 50 years.

  44. The Prangwizard
    June 26, 2017

    Yrt more of England’s money being thrown around. Tory unionists care nothing.for England. It’s there to be milked.

    Maybe someone will tell us that there are to be cuts to the money for Wales and Scotland, but I doubt it. You can never trust a Tory unionist to put England first.

  45. margaret
    June 26, 2017

    A manager has to delegate. There is no other way , therefore the people who advise should also take responsibility and document how an opinion was formed . Even this is difficult . We cannot appeal to old fashioned politics as some are inclined on this site to do as our politics are evolving extremely quickly with the mixtures of cultures.

    We need ideas , but that does not mean to say that the older person cannot formulate new ideas . Many times the experiences worker looks at past problems and creates a new angle to solve the problem. Sometimes so called fresh ideas are the problems of the past .

    Influence as you say is by many and sometimes one and not always the front runner and depending upon the support can either take time( when it becomes anachronistic) or quickly if many see the same problem and a resolution .

    We must however put our trust in those who are trying to be safe and not ridicule them as Mr or Mrs perfect. Safety first and well discussed should be the principles in any project and most of these projects have the potential to lose many lives if not handled well.

  46. Derek Henry
    June 26, 2017

    There’s no huge shed on the Isle Of Wight that holds our taxes for future use. Taxes and the issuing of bonds destroys high powered money. Government spending creates high powered money.

    We’ve ran budget deficits for nearly 300 years. Do the math that huge shed would have been empty 299 years ago.

    You can’t do a reserve drain ( taxes and issue bonds) without doing a reserve add ( government spending) first.

    Not even Einstien could have achieved that feat.

  47. MikeP
    June 26, 2017

    I’m a little surprised that, so far, only public sector tower blocks have been shown to be a fire risk. If the Grenfell Tower tragedy is down to Local Authority spending decisions I’d expect them to swiftly pass “the blame” on to Central Government for lowering the precept. If it turns out that building regs have not been followed I’d expect the responsibility to fall jointly on the contractor and those in the LA who signed off the work. I’d also expect many private sector homes built under the same regs with the same inspections to be at fault.

    There was a rumour that this type of cladding had been banned across the EU. That being the case was it installed before of after the ban? The EU has much to explain in taking us down the climate change road that has led to expensive energy, premature closure of power stations, flammable polystyrene insulation everywhere and daft retrofitting of spark catchers (whatever they are) on thatched buildings that has led to at least one total destruction (a 15th century pub in Devon) when it didn’t ‘catch a spark’. It had survived for 600 years without this modification. God help us, what a mess

  48. Terry
    June 26, 2017

    I would like to see the role the EU had in the fixture of this dangerous cladding.
    I have read that it was installed under an EU Directive to Save Energy and cut Carbon Emissions but cannot find any details of the required materials nor any specifications.

    If the EU did indeed Direct these installations and did not specify actual high-spec materials to be fitted then it is they who are negligent and it is they who must be held to account.

  49. News
    June 26, 2017

    The body language of Labour in PMs Questions just now has changed fundamentally to a massive downside, and suddenly, even and especially from Benn and Cooper. I know why.
    Corbyn is acting cocky bit no longer is.

  50. Progressive politics
    June 26, 2017

    Camden, a few months ago, was the first local authority to offer Calais migrants a guaranteed home in their domain. Every day in and every way Camden is getting better and better. Airbeds in a sports centre alongside hundreds of others who snore, play the mouth organ, act about shout and scream,cry in the night and, some who wet their beds due to being just three months old, plus well used toilet seats, wasn’t EXACTLY what illegal migrants were expecting. Rule Britannia! God Bless Camden!

  51. ian
    June 26, 2017

    What about government spending. When the con party came into government spending was about 670 billion pounds a year, today it’s about 805 billion pounds a year, plus cut to the councils money , which is peoples money, and cut in benefits to people on top of huge cuts to services and infrastructure spending. The government has been increasing it own spending by about 20 billion a year, which it has to borrow to increase it, but the people have not seen none of this money, and no infrastructure of any note has been built to date.
    If government had increased it spending by 5 billion a year, the yearly debt would been paid off with the government showing a profit with all the cuts with tax increases. Most of the people money has been given away, with the con party leaving the people in debt to the tune of 1.8 trillion and with billions of off the books in debt, which they will never come clean on. Debt today is still running to 50 billion a year plus what they are spending off the books which they keep quite about with billion in asset sales. They have done at least 1.5 trillion in seven years if you add it all up with 900 billion in debt and still up at 50 billions a year, billions in tax increases, billions in cuts, billions in asset sales, job cuts like the police. The only thing indigenous people have seen over the last seven year has been 20 pounds a week at the lower end off there taxes, and small mounts spent on infrastructure like by-passes on roads, railways, mainly station with a few other bit that amount to nothing.

    Reply Not what the books show. There have been increases in spending on education. NHS, welfare and many other programmes, whilst the proportion of the spending being borrowed has been cut.

    1. Edward2
      June 26, 2017

      All that has happened Ian, is a slowdown in the rate of increase.
      There has been no real cuts.
      Its about spending priorities.

    2. Derek Henry
      June 27, 2017


      Analysing what you are saying the Tories have done a fantastic job but you miss the point entirely in your post. For one simple reason you think it all works like a household budget.

      It does not and never has. The government is a currency issuer you are a currency user and that’s a huge difference.

      You have to bring in more than you earn HM Treasury does not.

      Your debt is completely different to HM Treasury debt.

      This is not political or ideological but accounting fact the budget deficit is the non government sectors surplus to the penny.

      The £1.8 trillion national debt is the non government sector ” sterling savings” in pensions, in ISA’s in government bonds, behind the couch, on the mantle piece under the bed.

      So if the Tories have increased the national debt or increased the budget deficit then they have increased everybody’s savings.

      Please tell me what is bad about that ? They’ve done a fantastic job. Created jobs and increased everyones savings.

      Case in point. Think of this example

      I’m the MONOPOLY issuer of the currency. I don’t need your £’s so I can spend £’s. Your £’s are worthless to me when I receive them I used to burn them at my central bank but I now shred them. I only take them from you so I can destroy them to help me control inflation.

      First I’m going to run a balanced budget with you. I’m going to give you £1,000 and then tax you £1,000.

      How much can you now

      a) Save ?

      b) Spend in the economy ?

      I’m now going to run a budget surplus with you. I’m going to give you £1,000 and then tax you £1,500.

      How much can you now

      a) Save ?

      b) Spend in the economy ?

      I’m now going to run a budget deficit with you. I’m going to give you £1,000 and then tax you £300.

      How much can you now

      a) Save ?

      b) Spend in the economy ?

      This is the reason we’ve ran budget deficits for 300 years. Without them nobody can save.

      The tories should be shouting from the rooftops what they have achieved but they can’t because for the last 40 years. They’ve convinced everybody it works like a household budget.

      You need to learn to look left on the balance sheet that’s where all the assets are. The Tories have increased everyone’s assets.

      Debt to GDP = UK Net wealth

      Budget deficit = Non governmental sector home and abroad ” sterling savings”

      National debt = National ” sterling savings”

      So when you look at the actual accounting the Tories have done a superb job adding to everyone’s wealth. However, they can’t celebrate the fact because people have been brainwashed to believe the debt is like a household debt when it clearly is not.

      Once you subtract all the taxes ever collected from all the money the government has ever spent you end up with £1.8 trillion. It’s not vanished, it’s not on mars, it is all of our assets held as ” sterling savings” within our economy by each and every one of us a currency users.

      1. margaret
        June 28, 2017

        Which may be so . but to issue they have to have the actual value in stone . They cannot issue any more unless there is QE and this is what BROWN did leaving the pounds value reduced and therefore the material bought , in other words the value of what we can get for our money is reduced.

  52. fedupsoutherner
    June 26, 2017

    It would seem that fridges in the UK and indeed in Europe and further afield have been blowing up probably due to a build-up of hydro carbon (sic) natural gas (refrigerator gas)’.

    We’ve got the green brigade to thank for this too. Hydrocarbons were almost universally adopted by manufacturers after the phase-out of CFCs in the 90s. Are we to see a big clear out of all our fridges now? It was a fridge catching fire that caused the fire in the high rise flats recently and the cladding that made it worse.

    1. Ed Mahony
      June 26, 2017

      ‘It was a fridge catching fire that caused the fire in the high rise flats recently and the cladding that made it worse’

      – The cause of the fire is irrelevant. Fires break out all the time and are put out by the fire brigade pretty quick. The problem here was mainly cladding (and secondarily lack of sprinklers, alarms not working and so on).

      There are people here trying to blame the EU, the greens, and so on. I am a strong Conservative voter. But I just think we need to be big enough to say a blunder was made at a catastrophic level and we need to recognise it, sort it out, and move on as best as possible.

      And we should do so for the families, for the reputation of our country (we look like a third-world country right now), as well as for the reputation of the Tories (the Tories aren’t too blame, but if our response is trying to avoid our responsibility to act swiftly and divisively then Labour will get back in).

      1. APL
        June 27, 2017

        Ed Mahony: “The cause of the fire is irrelevant.”

        I don’t think so. Nothing yet has been ruled out, etc ed

        1. APL
          June 28, 2017

          JR: “etc ed”

          Apparently, one cause has been ruled out.

          Sometimes your blog is so funny, Mr Redwood.

      2. stred
        June 27, 2017

        Yes, let’s try again. The fire had nothing to do with the bloody EU.

        RTG put the EU doc on here on the 25th. The thermal requirements should not affect safety. We have to do both and the two are not mutually exclusive and safe materials are available.


  53. fedupsoutherner
    June 26, 2017

    This is interesting from Der Spiegel.

    As a result of Brexit and because of many new tasks the EU budget will be missing € 25 billion. EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, therefore, wants to introduce new revenues for the EU in form of a climate tax. In addition, he wants to take Brexit as an opportunity to remove not only Britain’s EU rebate but similar discounts for other EU member states.

    “When the British leave, the rebate negotiated by Maggie Thatcher falls away; I want to use this opportunity to cancel all discounts, including those for Denmark and Germany,” Oettinger told SPIEGEL. “After the departure of the British, we are likely to be short of at least € 10 billion a year,” he said. “I can imagine that half of this sum can be saved, and the remaining members will divide the other half among themselves,” the EU Commissioner said. Germany, for example, receives a discount on the additional costs incurred as a result of the British discount.

    But it’s not just Brexit that is causing a hole in the EU budget. EU members states are facing many new tasks such as in defense, development aid or the safeguarding of external borders. The additional financial requirement of these new commitments is estimated to be 15 billion euros. This is why Oettinger intends to present a discussion paper on the future financing of the EU next Wednesday which will include proposed cuts in existing funding programmes. Apparently, cuts in the agricultural budget, which is still amounting to almost 40% of all EU spending, are being considered.

    Oettinger also wants to open up new sources of income for the EU. To this end, EU member states are to transfer part of their tax revenues to Brussels. “One consideration is to use the topic of climate protection and to transfer the taxation of EU CO2 credits to the EU,” Oettinger said. “These CO2 credits are based on European legislation, but they have so far gone to member states.”

    More money to pay if we stay in in any shape or form then.

    1. Mark B
      June 26, 2017

      Not only that, those that are members of NATO and do not pay their full wack, eg Germany, are expected to pay more. If not, the new POTUS is not going to be pleased and neither are the American people.

      Fun times ahead.

    2. Ed Mahony
      June 26, 2017

      Instead of just moaning about the EU, we should be there in the middle – LEADING, DIRECTING, FIGHTING! Being a pain in the backside. Sparks flying! Trying to reform it so we have the best of both worlds – an EU run, pragmatically, for our benefit and for the Europe as a whole, as well as being able to enjoy the benefits of trade outside the EU.

      Churchill and Thatcher were fighters. They would have cherished such a battle, especially as there is now much support for pragmatic reform of the EU from within the EU – President Macron for one. But it needs momentum to really start the ball rolling. The more Brexit continues, the more certain I am that future generations will ask: why didn’t you try and reform the EU – where was the fight in our generation?

      Yes, we must press on with Brexit. But if things don’t work out, we still have the opportunity to try and reform the EU, but we need to make such contingency plans – now, before it’s too late.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        June 27, 2017

        Ed Mahony you say, Instead of just moaning about the EU, we should be there in the middle – LEADING, DIRECTING, FIGHTING! Being a pain in the backside. Sparks flying! Trying to reform it so we have the best of both worlds – an EU run, pragmatically, for our benefit and for the Europe as a whole, as well as being able to enjoy the benefits of trade outside the EU.

        What do you think we’ve been doing for the past God knows how long? It has got us nowhere! I am fed up bowing and scraping to the EU with Germany at the reigns pulling all the strings. We can do better.

        1. APL
          June 27, 2017

          fedupsoutherner: “What do you think we’ve been doing for the past God knows how long?”


          The building spec.’s are an ‘EU occupied field’. The British government only had a consultative input into that area since about 2010.

          The Environmental specification – adding cladding to buildings build in the ’60s and ’70s may have been a result of the Climate change act (2008), which I understand everyone in Parliament but our host and a few select others voted for.

          Grenfell represents the intersection of Environmental mania and abrogation of the British governments authority in its own domain.

        2. Ed Mahony
          June 27, 2017


          – We’ve been trying to get concessions from the EU but not reform it. They’re two distinct things.

          It’s in Germany’s interests to have the UK in the EU and to have a reformed EU that works for all. (But it’s also in our interests to be in a reformed EU as then we, like the Germans and everyone else in the EU, gets the best of both worlds – a secure, prosperous Europe able to trade easily with the outside world.

          Lastly, the Euro and free movement of people aren’t bad ideas in principle, they just came at least 30 years too early (you need to have more parity of wealth across Europe before introducing these things).

          Lastly, i know there are many, many Brexiteers and Remainers who agree with me on this. In other words, going for reform of the EU would also be a great way of unifying our country which is obviously divided over Europe.


          1. Ed Mahony
            June 27, 2017

            John Redwood and Ken Clarke are my two favourite MPs in Parliament (after Sir Edward Leigh) both for personal and political reasons (although a lot i disagree with all three about regarding politics).

            I think when they are right about the EU (for or against) they make the best arguments in Parliament. But when they are wrong, i obviously disagree.
            If we had a synthesis between these two great politicians where we go planning to REFORM the EU (for our benefit and the benefit of the EU) instead of think about the EU in terms of REMAIN or LEAVE, then amazing things would result: 1. We would benefit form a safe and wealthy Europe 2. Whilst have good trading opportunities outside the EU 3. We could cut down on the worst aspect of political and judicial interference 4. We could control our borders 5. Our country would finally be more united over the whole Europe thing 6. Get the synthesis right between British patriotism and people of the great continent of Europe with all its rich history and culture we share.
            Neither side (Leavers / Remainers) will get everything they want, but this is compromise working at its best i think,

            Reply The EU is a project moving strongly in the opposite direction to the one the UK wants. We had years trying to reform it and failed.

          2. Ed Mahony
            June 27, 2017

            Not only these benefits but also of working with Europe:

            1. against mass migration from Africa and Middle East
            2. against authoritarian regimes such as Putin’s Russia
            3. in scientific / commercial projects beyond scope of one country e.g. building satellites and aircraft for commercial travel and so on as well as aircraft in general

            The benefits of reforming the EU for our gain (and Europe’s) are huge (much more than if we leave the EU or remain in the EU without reform). You get the best of both worlds. It’s possible we just have to be ready for the fight (and I know there are many Leavers and Remainers up for it).

            What i know for sure is that leaving or remaining in the EU without reform won’t lead to anything amazing either way. Just lots and lots and lots of hassle with very little gain, either way, in the long-term, and further division over Europe in the UK for years to come.

  54. Anonymous
    June 26, 2017

    Unless there was corruption the councillor cannot be blamed at all. How can he do other than trust that the experts involved know what they’re doing ?

    What is dispicable is that the Left have insinuated that the Tories murdered the Grenfell Tower victims and that they were wilfully neglectful of a socio-economic group. This to stage a political coup in favour of Corbyn – whose many councillors have such towers in their own wards.

    1. Ed Mahony
      June 26, 2017

      ‘Murder’ is absurd and cynical. ‘Manslaughter’ maybe, but that too would be wrong to blame it on the Conservative Party.

      However, it does say a lot about regulation. That we’re not necessarily as regulated as we might think. At least, that’s what many now think in this country, and abroad, when they see a third-world-like fire in our capital city.

      Yes, a lot of regulation sucks, but no regulation is better than too little.

  55. Sir Joe Soap
    June 26, 2017

    It sounds as though it was incompetent testing might be at fault. The clad sheets were laid flat for fire testing, when in situ they are always vertical. No common sense is the problem.

  56. Denis Cooper
    June 26, 2017


    “Javid said:

    I can inform the House that as of midday today the cladding from 75 high-rise buildings in 26 local authority areas has failed the combustibility test.

    The combustibility test has three categories rated one to three and it is judged that cladding material in categories two or three does not meet the requirements for limited combustibility in building regulations.

    I can also confirm to the House that, so far, on that basis, all samples of cladding tested have failed.

    The fact that all samples so far have failed underlines the value of the testing programme and the vital importance of submitting samples urgently.”

    So the combustibility test now being used by the government puts cladding materials into three categories, it is now “judged” by somebody that only category one is good enough to satisfy the requirements of the building regulations, but so far out of samples from 75 buildings there have been none in that top category, even though they may all have been “judged” good enough to meet the regulations when they were proposed.

    Perhaps the next step will be confirmation that all of the materials now being judged unsuitable were previously judged suitable, and so nobody involved in their specification was at fault, but that judgement has now been changed with hindsight.

    1. Denis Cooper
      June 27, 2017

      Some chap on the BBC said that the government has not yet released details of the test it is now using which is producing a 100% failure rate, but it is clear that the new test is more severe than that used previously.

  57. Jon p
    June 26, 2017

    This grubby deal with the DUP says it all..there is no principal here only shabby money grabbing.. so we have to suppose the rest of UK politics both local and national works the same way.Here ‘speaking for england’ you’d have to wonder why the people of england would want to keep this dead weight forever around their necks – just what is the importance of northern ireland to england that we have to continually support it from here to that level..one and a half million people holding us to ransom everytime?

  58. Sakara Gold
    June 26, 2017

    We live in an ever more technical world and technological change is accelerating. The problem with our system in the UK is that politicians – from the grass roots councillor level up to prime minister – are allowed to stand for election because they are good party types with connections and not because they are technocrats.

    What is missing from our councils, civil service, QUANGO’s etc is accountability. Nobody in the state sector gets fired because of incompetence, corruption, or even high treason in this country; the only people who get sacked are private sector employees (admittedly after a statutory 90 days redundancy notice period) everybody else is on the gravy train.

  59. ian
    June 26, 2017

    Government spending from 2010 to 2017 on most departments.
    2010 government spending. Local spending. 2017 spending. Gov Local.
    Pensions. 116 000 157 000
    Health and care. 117 0.1 138.9 3.7
    Education. 33.4 55.1 38 47.2
    Defence. 42.5 0.1 45,6 000
    Welfare. 60.9 49.8 58.1 55
    Protection. 16.9 17.2 14.9 14.5
    Transport. 13.3 9.7 19.2 9
    Social security. 111 000 113 000
    General Gov. 10.5 5.4 10.1 5.3
    Other spending. 57.8 36.7 79.9 37.6
    Interest on Debt. 30.5 0.2 49.8 0.7
    Totals 609.9 174 Totals. 724.8 172.8

    These number do not include EU money, overseas aid, companies hand outs for 2010 with a total spend of 674 billions, and the same with 2017 spending with total of 797 billions up till now with more debt to come to buy votes this year.
    As you can see most spending has gone on pension of 41 billions to buy votes with triple lock, health care has gone up, but provides a worst service, i should think gone drug increases to keep shares up, and more doctors and nurses with less bed to work with, so longer waiting list, and of cos PFI coming to a lot more money so they shutdown hospital that are not on PFI to pay them and cut beds. Social security has gone up by 2 billion in seven years, other spending up by 22 billions, interest on debt by 19 billions, and as we all know councils cut by billions. Councils have education by 8 billion while the Gov has put it up by 4.6 billion, but if go by per capita on all departments the cuts have been massive with a populate increase of over 3.5 million in that time not including illegal immigrants.

  60. Beecee
    June 26, 2017

    Jeremy Corbyn is now a brand.

    Watch it swell on social media – and the BBC

    Tory strategists have to strangle this NOW!

    1. APL
      June 27, 2017

      Beecee: “Tory strategists have to strangle this NOW!”

      Or strangle the BBC.

  61. Briton
    June 26, 2017

    “The danger is we make the role of the Councillor too difficult so no-one good will want to take it on.”
    I would take it on. I would take it on and campaign for all salaries and “expenses” to be removed. It may mean I am the sole Councillor in my town. My town for the first time in its history would have a proper Councillor.

  62. Ed Mahony
    June 26, 2017

    Sorry, i didn’t mean to say people were ‘moaning’ but i do think there are lot of Brexiteers and Remainers, who like me, think we should be trying to REFORM the EU. We need to press on with Brexit, but we still need to be thinking about, at least, reforming the EU in case Brexit doesn’t work out (it might, but things took a real set-back after the disastrous election result, and let’s not kid ourselves, it was disastrous, with Labour getting closer and closer to getting into power if we’re not careful, and then Brexit really will be scuppered).

  63. Lindsay McDougall
    June 27, 2017

    What strikes me most is that the poor are never given choices about the design of the accommodation they are allocated. It’s the old story of “Beggars can’t be choosers” and “The poor are too stupid to make decisions.” However, suppose that the poor were given the choice between a tower with poor insulation and no cladding and a tower with insulation and flammable cladding, and told roughly what the difference in rental charges would be, could they not make a choice?

    Now that the Grenfell Tower fire has occurred, local government is hitting the panic button and ordering everybody out of their tower accommodation while remedial work is carried out. This is causing great inconvenience to residents. Why can residents not make their own calculations of risk and come to their own decisions. Tower fires are low frequency events and they are rarely as bad as the Grenfell Tower fire because Grenfell Tower was badly designed.

    Aneurin Bevan used to bang on about the problem for the poor being the poverty of their choices. Somebody should tell that to Claudia Gould and the rest of the LB Camden mafia.


    1. Lindsay McDougall
      June 27, 2017

      Slowly, some relevant information is leaking out via the media. The Grenfell Tower cladding may well have been compliant with building regulations. Unfortunately, building regulations relating to cladding and insulation materials were given a major overhaul in 2000, and minor revisions in 2006, 2012 and 2013. They are less restrictive and less clear than those before 2000. Blame apportionment, therefore, should focus on the Governments in office on the dates (Labour, Coalition) and their Civil Servants.

      A Public Enquiry has been called for, Theoretically, this is to extract the full truth (at vast expense and with lots of unnecessary detail). In reality, its purpose will be to shift some of the blame to the private sector and to prevent any charges or civil actions being brought against public sector individuals. Anybody wanting to understand the normal behaviour of the legal profession should read Gulliver’s travels.

    2. An understandable er
      June 27, 2017

      Lindsay McDougall
      “Yes, I have rented you a dangerous flat. I did so with the full range of experts at my immediate and long-term disposal. Bless me, a similar block of flats just like yours hasd gone up in smoke. Therefore, I order you move tonight at 8.30pm. I shall TRY my best to find you temporary accommodation ( you must be patient, realise how difficult this is for me ) which I assure you is safe with the full range of experts at my immediate and long-term disposal.
      Go now, or face court action. You think ALL the rent I have charged you for a very dangerous flat and Council Tax should be refunded? Also compensation for your forcible removal? Also compensation for frightening you out of your mind ? Oh c,mon let’s be reasonable. I AM YOUR LEADER

  64. Juliet
    June 28, 2017

    It’s all a bit random adhoc and amateurish. Cladding specified for refurbishments not in one but several tower blocks yet succession of governments starting with Labour did not address or query the quality and safety of the materials used. Refurb of this nature always has ‘clerks of work, project architect, structural engineers’ who would have queried quality & safety regarding building regs compliance. And the the scutiny team KCTMO and the now MP more shrug shoulders. What happened to Town Planners!

  65. Na
    June 29, 2017

    Too many Tory politicians are spokesmen for the military (and related arms companies). You see them selling their soul in Parliament spouting neocon garbage and propaganda like John McCain. I completely ignore this type on all matters.

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