Traditionally the Conservative Party has been the party of government thrift, and the Labour Party the one of flinging money at problems and hoping for the best.
Hence the Tory MP who was on the radio a few mornings ago (I didn't catch his name but he was a "Sir" ) was true to form when he explained that he and some 40 other Conservative MPs and Peers objected to taking part in "Unconscious Bias" training because of the huge cost to the public purse of £700 000.
If I heard heard correctly he certainly has a point. There are 650 MPs and about 800 Peers, so if they all take it the cost per head is £483, which is pretty expensive training.
I wonder which lucky company was given the contract?
However, this is small beer compared with the money this allegedly Conservative government is flinging around to combat the coronavirus. In her speech on Monday the Shadow Chancellor Annelliese Dodds quoted the £130m contract for the testing kit that didn't work and £150 million purchase of face masks that weren't suitable for clinical use. These agreements were made in a hurry and not subject to the usual scrutiny.
Most of the British are fair-mined people and will sympathise with the excuse that abnormal procedures have to be used in abnormal times. We will also be tolerant of rules that change as circumstances change.
So going back to the office to work seemed a good idea a couple of weeks ago when the virus seemed to be coming under control: work from home if you can is now the good idea as the virus appears to be soaring out of control.
But what cannot, in my view, be excused is the the way the government has used the pandemic to ignore experienced and successful public bodies with the likely expertise to help control the virus in favour of profit-maximising maximising firms.
So rather than use the well-honed Local Government Public Health Services and the established virology laboratories across the NHS the contact tracing system is outsourced to Serco and the Lighthouse testing labs to Deloitte.
That is the same Deloitte that was fined £15m earlier this month for its failure properly to audit the accounts of the software company Autonomy. Last year a fine of £19.2m was imposed on Serco for fraud and false accounting over its electronic tagging service for the Ministry of Justice.
These are the most glaring examples of massive outsourcing of public works to private companies of proven incompetence. Others are detailed in a recent article in the Guardian by Aditya Chakrabortty.
In the post war collapse of empires many newly independent countries have, after promising starts, degenerated into Kleptocracies in which their leaders grabbed national resources for themselves and their friends.
Sadly the mature United Kingdom appears to be travelling down the same path.
If a marginally left-of-centre government were acting in any way similarly there would be outrage. As and when the reckoning comes I hope something like outrage will be expressed towards the present clique in charge of our country.
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Thank you Nigel Hunter. Though directed at the US there are hints of Johnson's government in 13 if the 14 point. The one exception is Point 8: "Religion and the Ruling Elite tied together" I can't think of any two individuals further apart than Johnson and the present Archbishop of Canterbury.ReplyDelete
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