Chaos and incompetence – The public’s tolerance of this Government is wearing thin

27th April, 2012 4:04 pm

When it comes to government the British public are arguably both sceptical but also tolerant. Government’s can be excused for many sins. But they are never forgiven for sheer incompetence. The wider public are now coming to this view of the Cameron project and their tolerance is wearing thin.

I shadow Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office. One of his responsibilities is the development of an infrastructure to protect the country against civil emergency. He completely blew it when he advised the nation to use jerry cans in order to fill their garages with petrol in preparation for a fuel strike that hadn’t even been announced. The consequent chaotic queues and fuel price rises can be put down to his faulty judgement alone.

But this is only one of a series of incompetent actions which have emanated from his ministry.

Take the completely inept treatment of Quangos.  Just last year, Francis Maude claimed loudly to all who would listen that the Government would make over £30 billion savings from their self-proclaimed “bonfire of the Quangos”.

Yet within hours the Prime Minister himself hastily revised this figure downwards without explanation by a massive £10 billion.

Labour offered to help with a considered review of all independent public bodies. It is right that we review the way we do things from time to time because the country’s needs change and it is always possible that we can provide services in new and perhaps more efficient ways.
The Government chose to ignore Labour’s reasonable offer and instead they chose to tackle the review in a totally ramshackle, chaotic and incompetent manner. Their main argument was consistent with their general line about financial cuts. The blaze of publicity which came with the announcement of a ‘bonfire of the Quangos’ was focused on wholly unattainable savings measured in the billions.

By the end of last year, however, the predicted savings had collapsed to just £2.6 billion in savings. In reality the Government’s much trumpeted ‘bonfire’ has turned out to be barely a damp weekend BBQ.

Yet even this is a far stretch from the latest revision of the savings expected, announced this week by the influential cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC), who now estimate that the likely figure will be £1 billion less again in actual savings.

The PAC report reveals a darker truth.  Over two thirds of the public bodies to be abolished will accumulate no savings at all for the Government. And report by the National Audit Office out earlier this year states that the Government’s saving estimate is “imprecise” because “consistently estimated savings are not yet available for individual bodies”.

As a result of all this, the Cabinet Office has been forced to admit that their £2.6 billion figure is inaccurate and have accepted that it must be revised downwards yet again. An announcement by the Cabinet Office- the fourth revision in this messy saga- is expected by the end of this month.

Let’s be clear; the Tory-led Government have misled the public on numerous occasions about this matter.

We raised serious questions too in the House of Commons about the types of non-governmental bodies the Government was abolishing or transferring the legal duties from. These were not minor bodies with obscure roles and comic names; instead they included the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Agricultural Wages Board and the Regional Development Agencies, all doing very important jobs, amongst others.

Government Departments will now have to take on the functions previously carried out by public bodies and this likely to cost money. Departments will now have to find savings elsewhere to make up the cost of taking on these newly acquired functions, will mean even more cuts. This displays the complete incompetence of the Government and highlights their inability to think in the long-term.

It is now clear that the pressure on Government Departments has increased yet again, with Departments now having to make savings of at least £3.5 billion – that is nearly £1 billion more than the proposed savings from the whole Public Bodies Reform Programme – to actually realise even the Government’s lowest estimation of £2.6 billion net savings.

The most disturbing developments in this whole process took place whilst the Bill was still in committee for the Government began to dismantle the various public bodies even prior to the legislation having been passed and enacted. Staff were sacked or transferred. Departments were left devoid of resources. Functions were left unfulfilled. And the citizens of the country who had a right to expect statutory functions to be discharged were left with no organisation to which they could refer. Both the Commission for Rural Communities and the Equality and Human Rights Commission were stripped of resources before the legal requirements upon them were removed.

All of this was carried out in the name of a wholly spurious economy drive which we now know will not deliver the savings promised and never would. It has been said that the Government lacks a convincing vision or even a core set of values. This of course is true. But if they fail on the test of competency as the Cabinet Office is clearly failing, then the public will conclude that they are not fit for office. They will be right in that conclusion.

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  • JoeDM

    The sooner this bunch of wets are defeated the sooner we can get a proper Tory leadership in place that will provide proper leadership for our nation !

    • treborc1

      What kick the Tories out leave the Liberals in.

    • RedSetter

      Probably never, ever going to happen now. The only reason we have a Tory Prime Minister now is because David “family man” Cameron managed to fool the electorate into believing that he was a “compassionate Conservative” – pardon the oxymoron – who would behave very differently in office than his recent Tory predecessors. The general public wanted a Tory-lite government with a soft centre and have ended up being sold a pup. Where is the Big Society? Where is the economic recovery? Where are the jobs? All those bright and beautiful pledges, promises and forecasts have been broken and failed to materialise. Just watch what happens when Osborne and Cameron try to implement further cuts. Already former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is rebelling as far as further reductions in welfare spending are concerned!

      • Dave Postles

        He was abominable on Any Questions, muttering and interrupting, dogmatic and rude.  I hold no candle for Adonis, but he is a gentle person and I felt empathy for him.  Smith is just a horrible.

        • Mike Homfray

          Adonis wiped the floor with him. IDS is inept on the extreme – his philosophies are an I’ll-matched cocktail of Catholic social teaching and blaming the poor. His quest to simplify the befits system will fail and hecwill gondown as yet another coalition failure

          • RedSetter

            The Universal Credit is a disaster waiting to happen.

        • RedSetter

          IDS is horrible. He is also unbelievably stupid, incompetent, dishonest and a fantacist. The point I was trying to make is that when a man like that – who wilfully cuts housing benefit to disabled people living in specially adapted accommodation if they have a spare room not occupied every night by a carer and wants the terminally ill who have more than a six month life expectancy to look for work or undertake unlimited workfare and so on and so forth – starts to protest about the dangers of further welfare cuts just how bad must such welfare cuts actually be? When the Devil himself calls someone or something evil, just how evil must he, she, or that thing actually be?

          • AlanGiles

            Duncan-Smith is a real prima-donna: I seem to remember that a year or so ago he threatened (promised?) to resign if Osborne cut his departments budget. I think apart from being a pompous old windbag, he would’nt resign – to be thrown out as party leader is one thing, but to give up all his trappings of office on his last hurrah would be too much for him.

            He is yet another example of a deeply flawed and tainted individual (Bettsygate) who should never have been rewarded for being the total useless waste of space that he is.

        • Tallywhacker

          One of the most dangerous and repellent Tory is Grant Shapps the Housing Minister. Check out the following link to discover why I loathe Shapps and all of his works.

          • Dante

            Hang on a minute. The reason were in this mess is because of a housing bubble, failure to regulate private rents properly, and complete failure to build enough social housing (despite making a big things about doing so before the 1997 election) during the Labour Party’s 13 year tenure in office. And we all know that Liam Byrne is well up to cutting housing benefit and kicking men, women, boys, girls and families out on the street in order to look as if Labour is being “tough on the underclass”. Kicking people when their down is well fashionable these days. Everybody wants to do it.

          • AlanGiles

            Sadly true.

    • If that’s what you want then vote UKIP.

    • Brumanuensis

      And so, ladies and gentlemen, behold the credulity of the Conservative right. Rather touchingly similar to our Militant Tendency in its insistence that what the country really wants is hardline dogmatism and utter tone-deafness, in politics.

      So sure, keep thinking that what the country yearns for is the same political positions that were trounced in 2001 and 2005. It only makes our job easier.    

  • Alexwilliamz

    The question of value for money and efficiency has to be questioned. In slashing departments or quangos what has been left behind in many cases is a central control structure without actually being able to perform its function properly. In transferring functions we end up with people with no idea how to fulfil those new functions. Where these functions are a legal requirement no doubt consultants will have to be employed to fulfil them. I am sure there remain a lot of potential longer term savings to be had through a long term revalutaion, streamlining and even making tough choices about what jobs quangos or even government should perform. Instead this rush for headlines is leaving many services and functions either not done or done badly, with probably the fall out being that very little savings are made. I get the feeling that the original figures were worked out as some one sat with a list of all the quangos and their cost and simply crossed out those that the minster/advisor in their ignorant opinion couldn’t see the point in. Thus totting up a figure that was bade on pretty much no actual understanding of government.

    Yet more amateurish incompetence by this reckless government.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    No offence, but why the hell is Jon Trickett in the shadow cabinet? Couldn’t somebody else shadow Francis Maude? If Labour wants to look like an alternative government surely it is about time that people like Jon Trickett should go!

    • Mike Homfray

      No offence, but this isn’t 1995. Jon Trickett is there because Ed wants him to be. There are a few who do need shipping out though – Byrne, Flint and Lewis for a start

      • ThePurpleBooker

        No! Trickett should go!

    • No Jon Trickett is just fine. I’m more concerned about the Blairites who support the Tories and their double dip recession.

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Alex, do you survive on chatting rubbish? Blairites are completely against the Tories’ economic policy but we accept (like some who aren’t Blairite) that in 2015 the deficit will exist and Labour cannot pretend that we will spend our way out but we will maintain investment to get growth and jobs but we will have to make spending cuts.
        Jon Trickett is a liability!

        • AlanGiles

          “do you survive on chatting rubbish?”

          You can talk. You make a career of it here on LL. Anyone who isn’t 100% New Labour/Blairite is wrong in your “book”, and you make filthy suggestions about their proclivities whilst cowering behind your screen name. You did it to me just a few days ago. If you want to be offensive at least have the guts to put your name to your ramblings.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            I’m taking advice from a Trot like you. Who said I am a 100% New Labour or a 100% Blairite? I am a Purple Booker. I disagree with some minor things New Labour did and I am a Blairite in theory but I am on the right of the party. Don’t try and play pigeon hole politics with my views.

          • AlanGiles

            “I am a Purple Booker”

            And you are an ignorant bell-end as well.

            You once said you were a “journalist”, yet your posts are full of trite “I means”, 

            You also have your stock “Trot” insult, so if you ARE a journalist you are a very mediocre speciman.

            As I said before, if you want to trade insults, at least have the gallantry to put your real name to your remarks – otherwise you look and sound like a bucket-mouthed coward.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            Oh go and masturbate you lefty f-u-c-k-e-r.

          • treborc1

             Well at least he can better then being  Tory Hunt.

          • AlanGiles

            The Pervy Booker wrote:

            “Oh go and masturbate you lefty f-u-c-k-e-r”

            What an intellect. He or she appears to be a sex obsessed halfwit

          • Mike Homfray

            That’s what you get from reading the Purple Book!!

          • AlanGiles

            He or she must be all of 14 to judge from their conversation

          • Brumanuensis

            I motion that we henceforth refer to the ‘Purple Book’ as the ‘Perve Book’.

          • Brumanuensis
    • You have to admit it – Mr Trickett gives the shadow cabinet a degree of gravitas and also work-a-day credibility, so therefore his inclusion gives credence to Labour as an alternative government.

      What would be disastrous would be a shadow cabinet stuffed full of people who wear heavy rimmed spectacles (no offence Mark) and include the word “hugely” in every sentence.

      Let’s keep it real.

      • treborc1

         Interesting of course Mr Trickett once ran the anti labour 90 day detention in which he had lots of people fighting against Brown, through the Compass site, he had lots of people writing letters demanding  the ending of labours 90 day detention, towards the end he walked out and voted for Brown, all for a job, he resigned from Compass.

        Gravitas not to sure..

      • Daniel Speight

         “Absolutely”. That one gets me. I even find myself doing it. Best if you add a Chelsea or Knightsbridge “Yah” after it.  (I even heard John McVicar doing the “Yah” on TV the  other day. )

        Anyway politician’s using absolutely should have their tongues cut out.

        Politicians using coached hand movements, especially the Tony Blair “power thumbs”, should have those appendages cut off.

        • AlanGiles

          “Look” in front of everything, especially when followed by the interviewers forename “Look, Martha” (to Ms Kearney on The World At One”). Cameron does it, well they all do it, and I suspect it was a New Labour expression originally (Uncle Jack and Purnell used it all the time).

          “Doing the right thing” (Cameron again, but a borring from the Dear Leader, I think) and the one that gets my back up more than anything else “Making a difference” – they forget not all differences are for the better

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Are degree of gravitas? What the hell are you on about? His inclusion gives Labour less credence. All we’ve heard from him is tacit support for Hollande’s plan of a 75% top rate of tax on incomes worth over £800,000 in England. He should be bringing to the table credible ideas and he should be refreshing in the cabinet. Someone who is intelligent, a good speaker, someone with credible politics. I’d suggest Stella Creasy, David Lammy or Gregg McClymont.

        • Brumanuensis

          Amazing that you claim Trickett is ‘not credible’ and then cite three MPs, of whom two – Creasy and McClymont – are almost as left-wing as Trickett is. 

          And shock horror, he supports a plan to put marginal tax rates on the rich up to a quite probably optimal level:

          • ThePurpleBooker

            That is untrue Creasy and McClymont are not as leftwing as Trickett by any means. You could not be more wrong.

        • I take it you’re a supporter of Monsieur Sarkozy?

    • Brumanuensis

      Jon Trickett is a good MP and a credit to our Party. What on earth would be served by sacking him?  

      • Alex

        He’s not a Blairite. That’s the problem.

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Because he is not a credible at all. He should be sacked and replaced with someone who is credible. He is out of touch, his politics is ancient and we need fresher faces whilst a more coherent politics.

        • Brumanuensis

          I think Alex has identified your objection rather more precisely. I’m still awaiting an explanation of how he is ‘not credible’ or how his politics are ‘ancient’.

          Anyway, I thought the Purple Book was in favour of pluralism?

          • ThePurpleBooker

            It is in favour of pluralism but it is not in favour of having people on the left of the party who have nothing real or new to bring but old-fashioned leftwing ideas which could kill off the possibility of a Labour majority government in 2015.

    • treborc1

       yea man how about David.

  • RedSetter

    The Coalition has successfully run the economy into the ground in less than two years – which is quite an achievement as far as awfulness goes.

  • geedee0520

    These Quangos that the author says were not shut down when they were supposed to be – anyone know who set them up and/or funded them for 13 years?

    As an aside – why do we need the ECHRC – don’t we have a law and courts to enforce it for these matters now?

    • Brumanuensis
      • geedee0520

         Got my initials wrong – Equality & Human Rights Commission is what I meant – Trevor Phillips’ lot – as I’m sure you knew.

        However, the same applies to the European Court – we have a Supreme Court (well, sort of as a bunch of people in Strasbourg seem to be superior) which should be good enough.

        • Brumanuensis

          The Supreme Court is the ultimate Court of appeal for all civil claims within the UK, as well as some criminal claims if they involve the Human Rights Act. For Scottish criminal cases, most have the High Court of the Justiciary as their final venue. The ECtHR acts as the ultimate authority for Convention rights and has done for the UK since 1959. The Convention is the ultimate source of the HRA, which incorporates it specifically into UK law. I’m not sure why the Supreme Court, which is a more recent institution, is better placed to rule on such cases.

          The EHRC suffers from a lack of powers, if anything. It plays a valuable role in focusing on breaches of the HRA and Equality Act, in a way that the courts, which have too heavy a case-load, would not be able to do on their own. 

        • Brumanuensis

          The Supreme Court is the ultimate Court of appeal for all civil claims within the UK, as well as some criminal claims if they involve the Human Rights Act. For Scottish criminal cases, most have the High Court of the Justiciary as their final venue. The ECtHR acts as the ultimate authority for Convention rights and has done for the UK since 1959. The Convention is the ultimate source of the HRA, which incorporates it specifically into UK law. I’m not sure why the Supreme Court, which is a more recent institution, is better placed to rule on such cases.

          The EHRC suffers from a lack of powers, if anything. It plays a valuable role in focusing on breaches of the HRA and Equality Act, in a way that the courts, which have too heavy a case-load, would not be able to do on their own. 


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