The wheels seem to be coming off the coalition’s cost-saving bandwagon! When ministers announced, within days of the election, the scrapping of Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts and Quangos galore the initial reaction from most of my fellow ferret breeders was one of delight. That was when they laboured under the delusion that there were precise plans in place. Now it is a different matter altogether for it is becoming clearer by the day that the headlines we heard were all that there was.
No fewer than 177 quangos perished at a stroke, may of them deservedly for they had bred like rabbits under the last goverment. Who, in a supposed age of localism, needs a central advisory panel on local innovation? Who needs quangos that monitor quangos? And who needs advice from the great, good and friends of ministers that pack these bodies? But those who defend the rights of mentally ill and disabled people do need a champion yet the Public Guardian Board has suffered the same fate as countless others. Most of us have never heard of many of those now resting in Sir Humphrey’s out tray but we have heard of the Audit Commission which represented the only realistic check on just what local authorities are spending our cash on. It too now lies dead. But who or what is going to take on the important role that it played?
Right now there is chaos across the land. Surely someone should have had the wit to examine what each quango actually does before axeing it. Yes, we all dislike the name but even the most vehement critic must acknowledge that at least some of them did something that needs to be done. Leaving all the organisations over which they presided free to spend on the first thing that comes into their heads does not sound very sensible.
In the NHS absolute chaos prevails. Primary Care Trusts have made huge numbers redundant and some have set up joint commissioning panels in anticipation of the inevitable inability of GPs to take over their roles as announced by the hapless Andrew Lansley, who has the doubtful honour of being named by clinicians as the worst ever Secretary of State for Health. He can expect patients to follow suit once they realise that the ad-hoc commissioners are switching services vast distances from their local hospitals! And who will regulate the finances of Foundation Trusts now that Monitor has been diverted on to other tasks? Talk to anyone employed in the NHS and encounter bewilderment on a grand scale!
It doesn’t need Alan Sugar to work out that massive changes such as those triggered by a flurry of hasty announcements need to be planned carefully, and phased in only as the replacements become available. There is every reason to believe that all this is going to sharply increase costs and impair services in the short term And you don’t need to be the sacker of apprentices to know that short term in this context means two to three years!
What is it about the Brits that makes us so incompetent? The Labour government added layer after layer of bureaucracy in almost every field and they employed an army of expensive management consultants to arrange them. The coalition has leapt in the opposite direction but clearly has no overall strategy or understanding of what needs to be done or the consequences of doing it. And they are running a vast enterpise called the United Kingdom.
The popular view seems to be that Lansley, Gove ( who even had to amend his announcement on schools within days), and the rest of them, are merely rearranging the chairs on the decks of the Titanic. Perhaps the time has come to send for the Monster Raving Loony Party!
SAVING IS THE NEW EVIL!
The name of the deputy governor of the Bank of England is Mr Bean, which seems apt. I say that because his statement on saving strikes me as plain barmy. In esssence he has told savers to stop moaning and to start spending. In fact most are now doing just that given the virtual elimination of interest and the total withdrawal of National Savings index-linked certificates.
Of course one can understand the benefit to the economy in the short term but surely the longer term effect will be to render the state liable to fund all nursing and residential home care once the present mass of older people reach the stage of needing it.
And isn’t it also fundamentally unfair? At present the state has to totally support many who have simply not bothered to ‘save for a rainy day’. Now it seems that the prudent ones, who surely deserve applause, are to be villified for their prudence. Something tells me that Mr Bean hasn’t used his self understanding to think this through!
GOOD ADVICE FOR THE TORY ASSASSINS!
For me the best column of the day is that of Julian Glover. He warns that smearing Labour’s new leader, a decent man, will backfire. They should be testing him instead.
There seems to be evidence that Ed Miliband is not as excitingly adventurous as his brother and may prove vulnerable on detail. But simply attacking him with endless childish abuse will have the effect of endearing him to the public which always swings behind any victim of mindless bullying. One would have thought that the Tories and their press baron friends would have learned a lesson from the dramatic rise of Nick Clegg. Instead of questioning his policies they resorted to a tirade of abuse and millions set up a ‘all Clegg’s fault’ campaign aimed at both defending him and making the bullies look ridiculous.
A glance at today’s polls ought to be a warning. For the first time in three years labour leads the Conservatives!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Londonderry 2. Uganda
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which country exploded its first nuclear device in 1974? 2. Why did Britain work a three-day week in 1974?