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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Labour autopsy makes grisly but compelling reading
Since the recent local elections, there's been much speculation about why New Labour got the sort of pounding normally reserved for Rocky Balboa's opponents. The answer lies inside this book. David Craig lays out in painstaking detail just how we've been taxed so punishingly and why all that money has had little or no effect on improving our country. It's a splendidly...
Published on 11 May 2008 by K. T. O'Reilly

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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good points but please don't quote the Dail Mail!
As a long time NHS employee, first as a nurse then latterly as a manager, I've seen first hand how billions have been pumped into health, the ranks of bureaucrats have swelled enormously and efficiency and quality have nose dived. As far as the NHS goes, everything in this book is spot on and I suspect that if you picked teachers, soldiers and policemen at random they...
Published on 15 Aug 2008 by Andy M


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Labour autopsy makes grisly but compelling reading, 11 May 2008
By 
K. T. O'Reilly (SE London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
Since the recent local elections, there's been much speculation about why New Labour got the sort of pounding normally reserved for Rocky Balboa's opponents. The answer lies inside this book. David Craig lays out in painstaking detail just how we've been taxed so punishingly and why all that money has had little or no effect on improving our country. It's a splendidly researched book. Even as a veteran Private Eye reader, I found plenty here I wasn't aware of.

I know, I know - you're thinking this could easily be dry and boring, it's about politics and economics after all but I promise you it's anything but boring. Craig's prose is very readable and he makes you laugh loud and often, usually with disbelief at how our money is indeed being squandered. The chapters on the EU and the fate of half our gold reserves will make your jaw hit the floor. Other parts of the book, those dealing with the treatment of the elderly, patients in the NHS and our troops fighting Blair's wars will make you want to throw something.

As the previous reviewer said, this is not Tory propaganda - Craig is quite scathing about the Tories in places. His opinions seem neither left nor right wing really. He argues against pointless government expansion and pointless privatisation with equal gusto, demonstrating how both waste our money. You may not always agree with him on everything but he makes his points well. His main point is of course that New Labour has been a disaster for this country. It would take an extremely loyal and self-deluded New Labour fan (probably with the last names Blair or Brown) to finish this book and disagree with him.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Squandered, 1 Aug 2008
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
David Craig assembles data that, when assessed across the total New Labour period, points not just to outrageous incompetence, but to structural problems in how the country is run that suggest that the UK government simply cannot deliver its leadership role. The book is an indictment of New Labour but it also shows how the Tories and the civil service contributed to what is now an economy in free fall.

David Craig's figures speak for themselves. The message is clear. more and more of our money is being taken from us to create a class of inexperienced, incompetent and unaccountable parasites who are not only doing nothing to advance the cause of the people but who have become ulcers, draining life from the economy and constraining the creativity of the British people. When looked at over time, as 'Squandered' does, and free from wildly unjustified claims of 'prudence', we see details of:

- lazy promotion of pseudo growth by the active encouragement of low wage immigration on a scale never experienced before
- cuts in spending on equipment for the soldiers in the field at a time when the government pursues a deeply flawed policy of invasion (that was opposed by the mass of the UK populace
- growth in administrators and 'management' far in excess of the growth in numbers of nurses, police, soldiers and teachers
- profligate government borrowing at a time when the economy was buoyant to be paid back when the business cycle is reversed
- Public Private Finance 'Initiatives' that have increased the costs of the services being provided and which have been so badly managed that the tax payer will be carrying an unpredented economic burden for decades to come
- pension policies that mean 99% of civil servants have essentially unfunded, inflation-proof, final salary based pensions, while 72% of the private work force have nothing that compares to this - yet who have ot foot the bill out of future taxes (not out of pension funds that are earning interest)
- above all, our money has been spent and our futures put in hock without achieving any compensatory benefits: failing, dirty hospitals, new and refurbished schools whose new designs are condemned as 'mediocre' by the National Audit Commitee; falling education standards and higher rates of illiteracy; more serious crimes and increaing numbers of prisoners despite large sums spent on policing
- sale of over half the nation's gold stock when the gold market was at rock bottom, handled in such an absurd way that the price was driven even lower before the gold was even sold - putting billions in the hands of a Chinese Government wise enough to buy when price was low
- creation of quangos lined with unqualified party faithful who are now also on inflation-proof final salary linked pensions and who have absolutely no accountability to the people or the government
- pumping of money needlessly into a corrupt, unaccountable and self-serving EU whose accounts have been rejected by auditors for 11 years
- increasing the number of MPs while 50 - 60% of law making is now done from Brussels
- foolhardy promotion of poorly specified, intrinsically unworkable software projects such as ID cards and natioanl databases, whose costs escalate while their benefits either recede or disappear
- billions spent irresponsibly on consultants who added little value and on projects whose budgets are invariably out of control, from NHS computers to Olympic villages.

David Craig's book covers all the major government departments. It shows that the incompetence is not isolated - it is endemic. Despite the terrifying message of 'Squandered', Mr Craig offers some constructive proposals to prevent the current situation leading to a major collapse of the economy. He himself, though, appears to have little confidence that either our elected or our unelected masters will be capable of carrying them out.

New Labour inherited a healthy economy, freed from the disastrous Exchange Rate Mechanism (which Labour had advocated as strongly as the Tories) at a time when world markets were growing rapidly. Inflation for the 5 years before and after the arrival of new Labour was about the same. But where did the resulting wealth go? Sucked into taxation and unproductive house price rises, into abortive government spending and the creation of 600,000 new jobs for civil servants. The result - inflation and recession. Where are the genuine productive new jobs that New Labour claimed to have been created? They are with low wage immigrants while the numbers of the nation's euphemistically named 'economically inactive' has doubled.

My interpretation of Mr Craig's book is that the UK's system of government has failed us and will continue to do so unless there are major changes, not just in faces but in the selection process that resutls in such incompetence.

Despite all the verbiage, 'New Labour' turned out to be 'Old Labour' disguised in spin. MR Craig's figures show how Labour has repeated its old pattern of taxing success and spending on failure. It has pandered to a financial industry thta does not invest in Britain and discouraged investment in British technologies that can reduce the costs of living and improve out living standards. It has spent billions instead on abortive projects that have brought us close to cultural and economic breakdown.

In the absence of a competent opposition, in the face of New Labour's in-fighting following the failures of Phoney Bliar and Gawdhelpyou Brown, and with a media industry that has exchanged investigative journalism for celebrity baiting, 'Squandered' is the wake-up call we have been lacking. It's a bitter read, but thank you, David Craig for pulling it altogether and pointing us (and maybe our unbeloved Leaders) towards a different future.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll suddenly want to withold your taxes, 26 July 2008
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
There's a quote from a review printed on the book itself along the lines of "It's impossible to read this without becoming angry" and that pretty much sums it up. Most of us are all too aware of how governments of all stripes waste vast sums of our hard earned money, but to have such a catalogue of incompetence set out before you in such stark terms really will make you want to devise a way - any way - of keeping more of your money out of the hands of a self-enriching political 'elite'.

It's not really addressed in this book, but if we moved to a new monetary system - one which didn't allow privately owned central banks to create money out of thin air and lend it out at interest - the ability of the government to plunge us all so deeply into debt would be severly curtailed.

The negative reviews of this book basically accuse it of being polemic and biased at that. However, although many of the references cited are indeed to newspaper articles, there's nothing to stop the interested reader checking the facts for themselves. What 'Sqandered' does do is set out in a short, eminently readable format, the dire state our public finances are really in and the colossal waste that continues to undermine them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant attack on misapplied spending, 17 July 2008
By 
William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
David Craig, a management consultant, wrote the excellent Plundering the public sector, which showed how the Labour government paid consultants billions to loot and wreck our public services. In his new book, he shows how the government has wasted more than a trillion pounds. But this is no pro-Conservative account: he also condemns the Conservatives' closure of the coal industry, their privatisation of railways and utilities, their three recessions and their three million unemployed.

He looks at area after area of our national life and shows how taxpayers' money is being misapplied. He shows how the costly regulatory quangos are not doing their jobs. For example, Ofwat issued no enforcement orders or fines on Thames Water, which loses a third of its water through leaks. In 2006, Thames raised its prices by 21% and its CEO got £6.3 million, without a squeak from Ofwat. Ofgem does nothing to curb the big six energy firms, which raised their prices by 15% this year. Foreign energy companies make 30-40% profit on their British operations, but only 5-10% elsewhere. The National Audit Office has praised the £180 billion PFI/PPP programme, the NHS IT fiasco and the soaring Olympics budget. It even praised the Financial Services Authority's performance, just weeks before it oversaw the Northern Rock debacle.

Craig points out that there are far too many quangos, initiatives and advisers. Spending on quangos rose from £79.6 billion in 2003 to £123.8 billion in 2006. The bosses of the 100 largest quangos get £110K each; the head of the Tote gets £350K a year. Labour's health quangos cost £426 million a year. Spending on NHS management consultants has multiplied by ten to £600 million a year, while beds have been cut from 250,000 to 180,000, increasing the rate of infections. The government has wasted £12 billion on a useless computer system for the NHS.

2.7 million people are on disability benefit - the highest proportion of people of working age in the developed world. In total, eight million people are economically inactive, more than in any slump in the last 70 years. This costs £40 billion a year.

The government has raised spending on the police from £8.5 billion a year to £12 billion, employing 62% more admin and support staff but only 11% more police officers. The Home Office budget rose from £7 billion to £14 billion, while it lost control of immigration and prisons.

The government modernised the Ministry of Defence's HQ at a cost of £2.347 billion over 30 years. MoD projects worth £34 billion are over-budget and late. The Ministry is top-heavy, with more admirals than ships, more brigadiers than regiments and more air marshals than squadrons.

Britain's Olympics bid of 2004 was based on a £4 billion estimate, with the taxpayer paying £1.8 billion. The 2007 estimate was £9 billion, with the taxpayer paying £7 billion. Now the estimate is £14 billion. The National Lottery's contribution has risen from £1.5 billion to £2.175 billion, which has meant taking £125 million from the bodies that actually train our athletes. In 1972, after the estimated costs of holding the 1976 Winter Olympics had tripled, the US city of Denver had a referendum on whether it should still host them. 60% voted against, so the Games were handed back to the International Olympics Committee and held in Innsbruck, which had hosted the 1964 Games. Perhaps we should give the Olympics back to the IOC, who could give them to Athens.

Craig notes that Blair negotiated our contributions to the EU's budget up from £3.3 billion a year to £5.6 billion a year until 2013. The Common Agricultural Policy's costs will rise 10% by 2013, so we will be paying for its higher costs! The CAP subsidises the rich - a quarter of its funds goes to the richest 2% of farmers and companies. For example, in 2004 Tate & Lyle got 178 million euros and the Duke of Westminster got 500,000 euros. For every pound of EU aid to Africa's farmers, the CAP takes away two by unfair trading.

The eight EU-originated Regional Development Agencies, with 300 staff each and CEOs on £175,000, cost us £200 million a year. MPs' salaries and expenses rose from £100 million in 2001-2 to £155 million last year, £240K per MP per year. Britain's MEPs get £380K each a year in salary, pension and expenses.

We could save billions by scrapping most quangos, the NHS IT scheme, the Regional Development Agencies, the unworkable ID card scheme (saving £5 billion), and renationalising the railways and the utilities. Craig ends by proposing that we reassert our democratic control over society by holding a series of referendums on key proposals like the EU Constitution, ID cards and the Olympics.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its true!, 22 Dec 2008
By 
Ms. L. Escobar "Creaking Willow" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
If you read a decent UK newspaper you'll be familiar with a lot of this book although to read about so much waste in one sitting is still pretty appauling.

For me what really sticks in the throat are the quangocrats - the hundreds of unelected public bodies set up to monitor this or review that. They are paid fortunes and duplicate questionable work sometimes 5 times over.

If the government had the slightest interest in saving money they could save billions here either by cutting pay or doing away with these non-entities altogether. There is little risk of striking and if there was - who would notice? - we're not talking nurses or teachers here.

I don't doubt they tried to make things 'get better' but boy have they messed it up.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fair successor to "Plundering the Public Sector", 26 May 2008
By 
David Levy (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
Though this book makes your blood run cold at the thought of the profligate wastefulness of this dreary quango-obsessed government and the appalling taxation burden that must befall us within a very few years as a result of their bone-headed corporate stupidity, I don't think this is as penetrating a work as it could have been, despite its non-stop, and I thought slightly breathless, recitation of the numbers. I certainly don't think it's in the same league as "Plundering the Public Sector" (2006), written by Craig with Richard Brooks, which analysed in brilliant and occasionally hysterically amusing detail a few of the most bafflingly inept New Labour projects - most impressively from my point of view the foolish and fundamentally misconceived NHS IT system, the ludicrously misnamed "Connecting for Health". There was a real attempt in that work to get to the root of the corporate newspeak and double-think, and to convey the infuriating self-serving, self-congratulatory sneery superiority of these intellectually-challenged wastrels. Actually, the self-serving bit is very well covered here, though it isn't analysed as it should be, as an Orwellian rewriting of commonsense, but as a group of comically stupid political minnows and their slick corporate buddies on the mutual make with their salaries, expense accounts and perks - necessary but not quite sufficient. How is it that a supposedly well-informed electorate has allowed this structured lunacy to take over our lives for the past 12 years? Why are there so few serious books, like this, that even attempt to describe what has gone so horribly wrong? (One answer may be that, like celebrity-without-demonstrable-talent, or the Lottery, we are all secretly waiting for that chance call from Quangoland - or Non-Departmental Public Bodies as Craig tells us they have now been renamed - to join them at the trough.) Craig appears to work brilliantly in a team - his tenacious ability to get hold of facts and figures (and to present them in marvellously simple and dramatic graphical format) is unsurpassed by any of our pusillanimous mass-media. If he could team up next with Simon Jenkins, on scintillating analytical form in "Thatcher & Sons" (2007) we could have the book that finally finishes off this floundering and talentless government.

Whatever my criticisms, any author who can bring to light the following quote (in "Plundering the Public Sector") has to get a prize for something; when I first read it I thought I might need emergency resuscitation. Quizzed by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee about a trifling £4 bn overspend (or was it £6 bn? - he wasn't quite sure) the Chief of Defence Procurement said: "This is not money which we have overspent ... what you are seeing is a level of disappointment". Quite so.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book without reservation and urge everyone to read it., 21 Oct 2008
By 
Margaret Wilde (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
I bought "Squandered" and I finished it recently. I whole-heartedly recommend this excellent, very detailed and well-researched book.

I hope it will be more widely read. The appalling waste, the fraud and hypocrisy, the cruel, casual unconcern for the have-nots in every sphere is horrifying and shameful. The sheer scale of waste defies belief.

We need urgently to halt the abuse of power and the insidious change from democracy to bureaucracy as our mode of government.

In the light of the current financial scandals that are precipitating us to Hell in a handcart I expect David Craig is busy writing another book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye opener, 29 Sep 2008
By 
Mrs. C. A. Veasey (Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
This is one of those books that I thought at first would be another boring book about politics written by another dry academic. It couldn't have been further from the truth. Daniel Craig has a very readable, at times witty style of writing, but over all that are the incontrovertable truths on almost every page. A picture emerges of a government marked mainly by its totally inept management of the economy and its inability to use the tax-payers money other than on grandiose schemes with no other hidden agenda than to make political points, and even that seems to have backfired. Craig shows us that this seems to be true of all governments in recent years of no matter what hue.

This book should be required reading for everyone who cares about the future of our country and, given that the past is often a harbinger of the future, who cares about the calibre of the people we vote into power. It should definitely be required reading for all sixth formers.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only I had, 22 May 2008
By 
Richard Crowe (Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
I was rushing for the 46 bus to Paddington Station at South End Green in London with this book in my hand and its contents boiling my brain when who should I see but that master of spin, Aleister Campbell sitting at one of the cafes there. I very nearly rushed over to thrust it into his face and demand if he had yet read it. If only I had! I sat on the bus afterwards fuming at myself. This is a book everyone should read and if only they did then canvassing for New Labour would be a real nightmare for anyone still benighted enough to do it. But as other reviewers have commented this is not some Tory diatribe this is a clear and careful analysis that reads like Gogol's Dead Souls (only its all true) of the managerial takeover of our country. A process that actully began under Thatcher. The whole of the New Labour project is laid bare. The facts and the arrogance that it reveals throughout government should be enough to start a revolution. Its actually quite terrifying to see all these elements of this takeover brought together like this and I am someone who reads the press and follows the news closely and so thought I knew how bad it was. I think we should all be buying copies wholesale and giving it to everyone we know who can read and think.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a political diatribe, 8 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
There's a strong temptation to think that this book is simply a right-wing attack on New Labour. I think it's much more intelligent than that and, believe me, you will be shocked, saddened and maddened at some of its content. We all sense, from time to time, that our political masters are losing their grip on the real world: this book proves just how out of touch Gordon and his cronies are and how they are presiding over a system that rewards blatant incompetence.

This book should should be on the 'essential' reading list of all students studying politics, economics, history.

No, strike that: it should be read by every voting adult in the UK.
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Squandered
Squandered by David Craig (Paperback - 7 April 2008)
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