Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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The government that outsourced itself


IF, like me, you are a regular reader of TCW, you may wonder how and why the public policy failures which are so well exposed could ever have happened. You will find the answers hidden in the dark corners of the management of the government and public institutions.

Seeing the phrase ‘good governance’ will often make any reader head for the next sentence or even stop reading altogether. It is vague and multi-faceted and needs explanation and context. Yet it is vital to the wellbeing of our democratic system.  

The decision-making processes which are at the core of good governance are undermined, ignored or hijacked by determined vested interests because of the failure of those in power to abide by the principles of good governance.

The decision to introduce the disruptive and life-changing Covid lockdowns without any impact assessments or cost benefit analyses has proved to be a disaster financially, socially and for our children’s education. For the millions of patients who could not access the NHS in a timely manner they have been a disaster medically with many lives still being lost as a result. 

We have these assessments and analyses precisely to understand the possible consequences and risks. We action them by openly questioning those consequences, making balanced judgments and taking rational decisions which incorporate all the needs of the public. 

In this case the decision-making system failed because the government ruled that a group of unelected, unaccountable scientists should decide instead. This was a derogation of duty and an unauthorised transfer of political authority.

We may think that lockdowns are costly but even the official estimate of £375billion (other economists put it at nearer £500billion) will pale by comparison if the Net Zero agenda continues to be implemented. 

Again, there has been no impact assessment, no cost-benefit analysis and very little Parliamentary debate or probing of the consequences. The legal change to create the Net Zero mandate was made by a Statutory Instrument in June 2019, as an amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act, without a vote or a single objection by MPs in the prior debate. 

This time the government’s choice was to give in to the Green lobby even though the Green Party has only one MP and generally receives under 3 per cent of the national vote.

Net Zero by 2050 is a policy for deindustrialisation and impoverishment of the people via high energy prices, through a near banning of the low-cost thermodynamically efficient fossil fuels which make life liveable for millions of British people and billions more across the globe. 

The government and Parliament hid behind the views of the Climate Change Committee which is deemed to be independent and therefore must be unquestioningly followed. But this body is anything but independent. It is dominated by committed believers in catastrophic climate change and its ‘independent evidence-based advice’ is predicated on the unproven idea that man-made emissions are causing climate change and that we must re-engineer our society to do what is impossible but is termed ‘tackling it’.

There is no sceptical analysis or reporting by the committee of the escalating costs or inquiring whether the climate is actually changing because of man-made COemissions. 

The government’s approach was to outsource policy to a committee which has no interest in, or responsibility for, the costs to the economy or to the public.

These are just two of the costliest policy errors which show the outsourcing of government. We have the formal mechanisms for preventing this in the Parliamentary and wider political system, with 650 MPs collectively capable of forcing Parliamentary accountability and votes, as well as having the many scrutinising committees of both Houses of Parliament. 

We have a substantial and varied media which can investigate all the issues and expose the fraudulent arguments. But almost all involved in the political-media mainstream have failed to do their jobs.

Honesty, responsibility, accountability, integrity, transparency, clear reporting and open debate are key tenets of good governance. All are diminished or lost in our political and administrative system. 

Politicians and officials should be updating the public on the progress of policies and projects more regularly with reviews of policy viability, success, failure, and suitability and then be held accountable. But it is normal to hear nothing but platitudes and see obfuscation.

There is a deeper question of why all these politically powerful bodies, and the individuals who comprise them, consistently fail on policy making and good governance. The answer is that they have collectively lost the necessary political lodestar which is to act in the everyday interests and needs of the people they serve. They are as divorced from those interests and needs as it is possible to be. That lodestar needs to be found and followed.

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Peter Lloyd
Peter Lloyd
Peter Lloyd is a former stockbroker and financial markets research professional.

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