THE BLUNDERS OF OUR GOVERNMENTS PDF

Politics books The Blunders of our Governments by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe — review An amusing and enraging compendium of ministerial error lays bare major flaws in the way the British run their politics Widely remembered … the Millennium Dome saga involved mistake after mistake. It will also make you tremble in terror at the realisation that the people in charge of our destinies are, in many respects, idiots. With clarity, elegance and wit, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe recall the most egregious blunders committed by British governments over the last three decades. Some of them are widely remembered, such as the poll tax, the Millennium Dome and membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism , others almost forgotten, such as individual learning accounts and the Assets Recovery Agency. In all these instances, ministers failed wholly to achieve the outcome they intended; sometimes they achieved the opposite. They also, in several cases, wasted billions of pounds of public money and did great damage, sometimes lethal damage, to the people they were supposedly trying to help.

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Politics books The Blunders of our Governments by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe — review An amusing and enraging compendium of ministerial error lays bare major flaws in the way the British run their politics Widely remembered … the Millennium Dome saga involved mistake after mistake. It will also make you tremble in terror at the realisation that the people in charge of our destinies are, in many respects, idiots.

With clarity, elegance and wit, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe recall the most egregious blunders committed by British governments over the last three decades. Some of them are widely remembered, such as the poll tax, the Millennium Dome and membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism , others almost forgotten, such as individual learning accounts and the Assets Recovery Agency.

In all these instances, ministers failed wholly to achieve the outcome they intended; sometimes they achieved the opposite. They also, in several cases, wasted billions of pounds of public money and did great damage, sometimes lethal damage, to the people they were supposedly trying to help.

The causes of the blunders were numerous. In many cases, ministers and their senior officials were simply ignorant — King and Crewe politely call it "cultural disconnect" — of how large sections of the population lived from day to day. The Tories had no inkling that, if sent a poll tax bill of several hundred pounds, some families, and particularly elderly couples, would not be able to pay.

But Labour has become almost equally disconnected from real life, with its frontbenchers and advisers increasingly drawn from a cohort that went from school to university usually Oxbridge to Westminster thinktank without ever working in a retail store, a hamburger joint or a benefit office.

Its tax credits scheme involved paying out weekly or monthly a sum that was determined annually. The biggest victim was the taxpayer. The scheme, giving poorly qualified people modest sums to help "buy" training courses to improve their skills, was pure New Labourism.

Potential trainees would choose options from a dynamic and innovative market. Unfortunately, ministers and civil servants failed to devise any checks that "providers" were actually putting on courses, or that "trainees" were taking them, or that the courses indeed existed. The scheme was wide open to fraud. Many learning accounts were criminal inventions.

King and Crewe reckon that Labour and Tory governments are equally prone to cockups. In a postscript, they judge the coalition, with its start-stop-start NHS reforms, its misallocated franchise award for the West Coast mainline , its aborted plan to sell off forests, its malfunctioning disability assessments, and so on, to be "if anything … even more blunder-prone than its predecessors".

Yet many of the blunders King and Crewe recall can be partly attributed to how the British run their government and politics. Britain is said to benefit from decisive government, without the gridlock that the separation of powers frequently imposes on American presidents.

Moreover, there are no penalties for messing up. None of those responsible for the blunders in this book resigned or were sacked, unless you count Norman Lamont, who left the Treasury nine months after the ERM debacle but was less culpable than John Major, who sacked him.

Only those charged with putting the impossible into effect risked losing their jobs. The doctrine of ministerial accountability, King and Crewe argue, is a myth. Ministers resign over scandals and gaffes, rarely over policy failure. At worst, they will be moved, but often to a more senior position.

It is hard to overpraise this book, which lays bare the weaknesses of British government so clinically and entertainingly. Though this book provides a comprehensive guide for ministers who wish to avoid blunders, I fear we shall see many more.

As the authors point out, ministers now wish to be seen as men and women of decisive action, sweeping aside doubters and cowards, and in this they are encouraged by the hour media, always demanding that something be done, impatient of delay and eager to portray as ditherers those who think carefully and consult widely before they act.

Government has become so media-conscious that it is run, in many respects, rather like a daily newspaper newsroom. And we all know — do we not?

CARTEA DESPRE FEMEI OSHO PDF

The Blunders of Our Governments — review by Sir David Normington GCB

The Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher is once again discussing the issue of local authority rates. This form of local taxation was, like all taxes, deeply unpopular but the participants in this discussion also considered it to be profoundly unfair. It was levied on the value of the property, irrespective of the income of the resident. Although the money raised provided services to all local residents, many, such as those living in rented accommodation, made no contribution at all. Yet there had been no mention of abolishing the rates in the or Conservative manifestos.

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NewStatesman

Whatever else he did as prime minister, he would not mess with the National Health Service. This was smart politics. Reverence for the free-at-the-point-of-delivery health service is the nearest a predominantly secular Britain has to a state religion. Within weeks of entering 10 Downing Street as leader of a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, Cameron had reneged.

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The Blunders of our Governments by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe – review

We believe there have been far too many of them and that most, perhaps all, of them could have been avoided. I knew many of the people involved. I was even directly involved in two myself — individual learning accounts and ID cards. The former was undoubtedly a blunder. No one suffered.

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The Blunders of Our Governments

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