31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Squandered, 1 Aug. 2008
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.