Sunday, 29 August 2010

The new politics ...

Tom Harris has been running a series of how the new politics does things the same way that Labour used to. No opprobrium for Labour having done such a thing, of course.

But it really is an endless display of rehashed tired "initiatives" showing the poverty of Tory ideas:

Anyone remember the special telephone line 101? It was a little idea to have a non-emergency phone line that people could use instead of 999 to report crimes that didn't require SO19 to pile in with their H&K MP5s.

It was, naturally a complete waste of time and money, being piloted then slowly dropped having cost the taxpayer £1.8 million

Calls to the line, designed to ease pressure on 999, included such requests as, "can you tell me the times of trains to Brighton?", "I'd like someone to test my smoke alarm." and "Do you know when the next bus leaves for Southampton?"

You'll be glad to hear therefore that our Coalition Government would not be so stupid as to introduce a similar sort of scheme ever again, less face the embarrassment of throwing more of our money away at a service that would be used and abused... oh wait, no... what am I talking about, they are introducing such a scheme.

For those wondering, this is the point at which you put your head in your hands and scream "Oh God no! Not again!".

Oh God no! Not again!

Still, I'm sure some Tory lickspittle and apologist will be along shortly to tell me how different it is because the Tories are doing it this time. And how much better the Tories are than Labour.

The problem is that our elected representatives are unable to do anything effective to the civil service and wedded to statist thinking. Every one of the things that they have done, even Eric Pickles's alleged cuts have just transferred the pointless activity to the private sector, rather than doing away with the pointless activity altogether.

I suppose it's too much to ask for politicians to ask whether everything that government currently does needs to be done by the government or done at all?


Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. Especially your point about the fat bastard shifting stuff into the private sector which is even worse service for double the prize.

Mitch said...

The funniest thing about the previous alternative number was that nobody knew about it.Ask anyone and 9 out of 10 will claim ignorance.

Fat said...

118 118 already provides this service for a small fer. Govt doesn't need to.

Bayard said...

I think the answer lies here: "David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "Only this Home Office could fail to implement such a scheme. How many more times must we see it fail spectacularly to make an IT-based project work and waste millions of pounds in the process?"" which, translated, means, "It's a good idea that Labour have cocked up. Us Tories, on the other hand....."

Jill said...

As Mark says vis a vis public/private cost/service level. Whether you like state intervention or not, I fail to see the point of a nurse-led health helpline if it's not nurse-led. 999 has multiple frivolous calls, and I don't see this kind of service ever being free of them; it's just a working hazard.

On a practical, rather than a theoretical or philosophical, note, NHS Direct probably saved quite a few out-of-hours GP call-outs when I was a new mother struggling with a newborn baby with multiple, reasonably serious, health problems. And I'm not in the least bit frivolous, or hypochondriac, about health.

Roger Thornhill said...

In order (best to worst)

1. Truly free markets
2a. Regulated Markets that enable new entrants
2b. State commissioned and run monopoly
2c. Regulated markets operating as de facto cartel
3. Privately run, state commissioned monopoly

As you can probably guess, I accept that the 2a/b/c order depends, so are case by case.

What has made Labour so bad of late is it's desire to go for option 3. more and more. Watch how The Big Society replaces 2b with 3.

Shug Niggurath said...

The 111 number is part of an EU harmonisation process. The trials were organised under Labour back in December.

Let's face it, this is a third year project for a government, far too early for a new contender, so anything that comes too early is generally fed in via the EU.

Labour were also involved in the expansion of the project to cover all non-emergency calls, hence less clinically trained workers on NHS Direct as they'll soon be ported to the new agency. To listen to Prescott you'd think this is something the Tories dreamed up in the last fortnight.