Monday, May 01, 2006
Move Over Darling
So come Friday, it looks like Alistair Darling will be Home Secretary, does it? The thinking seems to be that he's managed four years at Transport without shedding too many wheels, so he must be the boy.
As taxpayers concerned to see the HO's £13bn pa used to make our streets safer rather than funding yet more diversity networks, let's consider his ministerial record.
He kicked off in 1997 as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in charge of public spending. That was during the brief reign of Prudence so you might argue he was effective. But after just a year in the job, he was promoted to be Secretary of State for Social Security.
At the DSS he was faced with sorting out the messy aftermath of the lamentable Harriet Harman and her death duel with Frank Field. So he spent much of the time sponging blood off the carpets and walls, and generally plumping up the cushions. Unfortunately he should have been gripping the underlying problems.
In 2001, the DSS acquired extra responsibilities and was renamed the Department for Work and Pensions. It became the £125bn pa, 120,000-staff monster we have today. And through his whole time there, despite his repeated assurances he was "turning the tide", all the problems we know and love so well were getting worse: massive fraud, huge mispayments, the shambles at the Child Support Agency, crap computer systems...for four years Darling presided over the lot. He gave no indication whatsoever he could to sort it out. He even managed to cause a pensioners revolt with that notorious 75p a week pension increase.
He got out in 2002 only because he was switched suddenly to Transport to sort out the messy aftermath of the lamentable "Steve" Byers. And at Transport he's done no better- eg see this blog on the dire £2bn pa Highways Agency. Effectively all he's done is to steer clear of the worst controversies and drone critics into submission.
Everybody knows Darling would do no better than Clarke at the HO in terms of gripping the real issues. The best we taxpayers might get would be a (very) slow track for that monumentally pricy and risky ID cards project.
Something I guess.
Posted by Mike D at 5:04 pm