Has Britain (or indeed Ireland) got Government Talent?

I was struck by the new French President speaking about those to be recruited to his government: I will choose them for their experience, their competence, what they have done and not for what they represent or their political weight… Gosh. There’s a thought. Leaving aside whether you think he is a good or bad thing, what a contrast this is to Westminster/Whitehall and even Holyrood, Cardiff Bay or Stormont (when it is actually up and running). What will we get … Read more

Is British Democracy Becoming A Competition of Incompetence?

If we all stand back and take a ruthless, non-tribal, unheroic look at the standards on offer in the general election, this is a competition of incompetence. It is only because the Labour Party has so lost its way that the Conservatives appear in any way competent. In practice, the Conservative’s current majority and ‘liberation’ from the moderating power of the LibDems, has seen them binging on their ideology: cut public services in the name of austerity economics, harsh on … Read more

The Pipe Will Never Be Fat Enough: Four Reforms To Deliver Competitive Broadband

When the government recently pledged ‘gold standard full fibre’ broadband, a collective cheer went up. For a short while, until we reflected upon the fate of most such announcements, the realities of stuttering broadband, and the prospect of dealing with one of the big providers. The history of this industry says the ‘gold standard’ will not happen without four major reforms (skip to the end to see them). Just how much of the pledged £1bn will end up in fibre … Read more

Friday Thread: How Fake Are The Analyses Of ‘Fake News’?

I keep reading these analyses by commentators and earnest academics on ‘fake news’, its fertilizer of social media, with Brexit and Trump its fruit. Their thesis is along the lines of: 2016 marking the arrival of post-truth politics, social media being used to promulgate it, and the ‘new’ politics of populism arising. But it only takes a brief trip down memory lane to remind us that there’s nothing new about fake news. The Zinoviev letter in 1924 was a straight lie … Read more

21C Governance: Three Reasons British Railways Don’t Work (and How To Fix Them)

How on earth could one of the world’s most advanced cities manage to disrupt its essential transport infrastructure, the lives of so many, and its economic activity so foolishly, and with such little interest from those in power? That was my conclusion in 2003. Today, exactly those words apply to another rail foul up with Southern Rail and to similar circumstances for many other British commuters and cities. The scale of human misery, stress, discomfort and the impact on working … Read more

If Medics Treated Patients As Governments Treat the NHS, We’d All Be Dead

Another Secretary of State pushes determinedly, blindly on with NHS reforms, with the notion they alone can solve the great mystery of health. No matter how well intentioned, policy making is doomed to fail as before. I humbly suggest another way. The NHS is now into its 30th year of perpetual reform (perhaps we should hold an anniversary party?). Yet it is still in need of reform. At what point do the politicians wake up and conclude that, in the way … Read more