Romney tells Secret Service detail to “go and get a real job” – well, not really but that’s what he implied…

[President Obama] “took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have, and one that was essential to the task at hand.  He had almost no experience working in a business.  Jobs to him are about government.” Mitt Romney in his acceptance speech.

I was struck by this largely ignored passage in Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech in Tampa for two reasons. Continue reading

Targets? What targets? Change and Continuity in the performance regime in Whitehall

We were told, when the new Coalition Government came to be, that it would put an end to “New Labour targetry”. The use of targets for public sector performance had become a bête noir of both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Opposition and they apparently couldn’t wait to scrap the whole lot once they were in power.

And indeed they did immediately scrap the Public Service Agreements (30) and Departmental Strategic Objectives (95 for the Departments we have counted).

But for the past two decades I have had this annoying habit – I don’t believe Governments, especially about these sorts of things. So I have done what I usually do and gone and counted. And the answers are surprising, even to me. Continue reading

Lies, Damned Lies and Government Efficiency Savings – yet again (this is starting to get boring)

The government has claimed today to have made £5.5bn worth efficiency savings and that these have been “independently audited”.

First, definitions. “Efficiency”, in this context, is usually defined as the relationship (ratio) between the cost of inputs and the amount and quality of outputs. So if, and only if, we have reliable data about both inputs and outputs can we judge whether any changes are “efficiency savings” or merely “cuts” which affect service quantity and quality.

So how do the Government’s claims stack up? Continue reading

#London2012: Private Schools and Public Sports (or how I got humiliated at rugby)


The disproportionate representation of UK private schools (confusingly called ‘public schools’) amongst Britain’s Olympians has been causing some controversy.

For some on the right this highlights the superiority of private sector schooling over state provision – especially as a lot of money has supposedly gone into promoting sports in the public sector. Continue reading