‘Building Britain’s Future’ or Forward to the Past?

A new Prime Minister takes over towards the end of a long period of his party being in power. He replaces a charismatic and controversial, but highly successful in electoral terms, predecessor. His government is becoming increasingly unpopular and an election is looming. What new policy wheeze can he come up with on public services to capture the public imagination? How about promising the public that public services will be made to set out exactly what standards of service they will offer and then giving the public rights to demand these standards are met? Continue reading

PASC on Good Government

The Public Administration Select Committee today publishes its report (and evidence sessions) on Good Government.

I have reproduced the main recommendations below, their analysis is well worth reading.

Especially pleasing is that they have accepted my proposal (see section 5 of the Report) that the remit of the National Audit Office be expanded to something more like that of the General Accountability Office in the USA – and specifically it takes on a role assessing the performance of government Ministries and departments. Continue reading

Democracy Demands: Show Us The Money!

In the film Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr. famously demands of his Agent Maguire (Tom Cruise) that he “show me the money”. The message (in context) is simple – no amount of smooth talking from his Agent is good enough – Gooding’s character wants to see the actual money. This is a good lesson to apply to the latest “debate” (I use the word loosely) over the future of public spending. Continue reading


Probably the most important role of Whitehall departments is giving policy advice to Ministers. It is therefore curious that policy-making did not figure directly in the Capability Reviews that central government departments have been going through in the past few years. Continue reading