The Economy Drive

If you can, take a look at episode three of the first series of Yes Minister.  We seem to be repeating the experience of the 70s and 80s, perhaps this time as farce?  The Prime Minister walks to the House of Commons and eschews outriders on trips in his official car.  First class travel is to be cut back.  It all sounds like ‘Operation Hair Shirt’ to me – personal concessions and cuts to set an example that are so painful in practice that it undermines the broader objective when those cuts are reversed.

While Jim Hacker had his Bureaucratic Watchdog Office, we have the more dynamic sounding Office for Budget Responsibility – create a Quango to catch a Quango.

Sir Humphrey must be chuckling in some elite Whitehall club, reminiscing with ‘Jumbo’ from the Foreign Office.


1 Response to “The Economy Drive”

  1. 1 christina May 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Wish I could laugh, but I find it all a bit sad. All those high ideals about being an exemplar squandered by knowing professionals who have been working hard, over the last couple of months, working out how to pretend to be doing what they are told. Despite the cuts, lots of old policies will get recycled as new ones as we learn to describe the same things in new ways. We will dismantle public sector infrastructure and capacity only to build it somewhere else when we realise, by its absence, what it actually did. We will embark on the same goals – reduce child poverty, reduce the amount we spend on making ‘bad’ people worse – without being up-front about what has been tried, and failed, before because all of that will be projected on those we elected. After all, civil servants only implement policy, don’t they?

    Perhaps the lesson of Yes Minister is that we have to grow up and reject the fiction that it parodies. We need to stop pretending that the only people who exercise power are those we elect and instead take a more openly active stance about how we affect what decisions are made in the arenas in which we operate. Particularly if we are the kind of people that judge what we do in terms of the interests of those we are claiming to serve rather our own, as in Sir Humphrey’s case.

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