Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shambles At The Top

Another party hack preening at the top table... we're paying

The shambles at MOD over cash for surrender stories underlines once again just how poorly served we are by our Big Government and our can't-help-themselves spin meister politicos. Always ready to tell us how to live our lives, these unworldly people are incapable even of applying common sense to straightforward issues such as this.

Who on earth could possibly imagine it would be OK to allow serving personnel to sell their stories like Big Brother contestants? You and I would never even consider it. In fact after such an ignominious episode Gulfside, we probably wouldn't want the perpetrator victims talking to the press at all. Nelson would have clapped them in irons.

Yet the top brass at the MOD thought their PA deals with the Sun and Sir Trev were just dandy. And they only reversed their decision when the real world threw up its hands in shock and disbelief.

However much they now wriggle and pass the buck, we should be alarmed. These hopeless out-of-touch buffoons are in charge of Britain's defence. And however much you dislike Big Government, defence is one of those core irreducible functions only the state can undertake. Somehow, however hard it is, they have to be sorted out (see this ITBA vid for a reminder of how MOD squanders our money).

The same does not apply to another shambolic Whitehall empire in the news today.

We've blogged the appalling DTI before (eg see this post and this ITBA vid). It costs us £6.5bn pa and succeeds only in encumbering industry with massive regulatory burdens. By any rational standard it should be abolished forthwith.

Socialist PM Gordo was never going to do that of course, but a headline grabbing reorganisation has become a certainty.

Now, according to the FT, Gordo has decided on its shape.

And guess what.

He's going to give us even more Big Government- that old corporatist favourite, a super-ministry covering both the environment and energy:

"The main rationale for the super-ministry would be more effective policy-making. The environment has shot up the political agenda during Labour’s decade in power, focusing greater ministerial attention on related energy issues, such as new nuclear power stations.

Mr Brown is keen to end the departmental conflict in this crucial policy area, symbolised by a serious cabinet spat over the European emissions trading scheme, where on behalf of business the DTI fought hard against Defra lobbying for a tough ceiling on greenhouse gases.

If the DTI was to lose energy, its second biggest spending commitment, that could be a catalyst to dismantle the entire department. Mr Brown’s team is looking at ways of forging closer links between science and innovation – which accounts for more than half the DTI’s annual £6.5bn budget – and the department for education and skills."

There are a number of familiar points to make:
  • attempting to resolve policy conflicts simply by sweeping two conflicting areas under one roof may avoid embarrassing public spats, but it does absolutely nothing to grip the underlying issues: at best we get a muddy fudge, at worst, total inaction

  • the real reason Gordo wants to do this (painfully transparent, but highlighted by the FT anyway) is so he can buy off Millipede's leadership ambitions: by throwing him the additional bone of energy, he gives him a Big Platform on which to strut all that eco-wibble stuff espoused by Dave C; once again, this is not about what's best for us, but what's best for them

  • this is yet another expensive round of musical deckchairs (cf the desperate and half-baked reorganistion of the appalling Home Office): that planned switch of science back to the Department for Education and Skills is an exact return to where it was up to the 1970s- I know, because I was there.
I am constantly amazed that we punters continue to put up with it. Surely we can all see Big Government doesn't work. And surely none of us trusts the politicos further than we could throw them. So wtf do we still give them free rein with 43% of our incomes?

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