The Blunders of Our Governments (Hardback)
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Short Description for The Blunders of Our Governments From the poll tax to ID cards, a groundbreaking look at three decades of outrageous political mishaps
- Published: 19 September 2013
- Format: Hardback 512 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781780742663 ISBN 10: 1780742665
- Sales rank: 15,052
Reviews for The Blunders of Our Governments
- Top review
Blundering Around Whitehall
The Blunders our Governments make by the respected political professors and commentators Ivor Crewe and Anthony King is a non-partisan look at the mistakes that all governments make in the course of history. Sometimes in the face of fierce opposition they still make the mistakes most politicians like to quietly disown while the opposition party likes to remind them of.
It is not all bad as Crewe and King explain what they view as a Blunder and not all of them come from knee-jerk reactions to the press. The book starts with some of the successes of Government, and sometimes things that governments ought to be proud to boast of but forgotten about. A case in point being Margaret Thatcher, often accused of having no industrial policy other than close things down, through the strength of a meeting with a Japanese Company in the 1980s brought inward investment to the North East of England from the Nissan Car Company who to this day still invest heavily in car manufacturing in the region. Thatcher in her own autobiography should be proud of this achievement but it only gets a mention in passing of no more than a sentence. King and Crewe show that all governments since 1945 have done some good and some bad as unintended consequences of policy proposals, such as the Town & Country Act a success but not recognised or the disaster that was Energy Minister Manny Shinwell who was warned there would be fuel shortages and did absolutely nothing to prepare for it. But I could point to many more disasters Shinwell created. Or that the Labour Party should be proud of its manifesto promise of a minimum wage and its implementation with the then Tory leader in 2005 admitting they were wrong to oppose it.
There is also a mention of Sir Keith Joseph the Conservative Party's guiding light on the free market and policies when he asked a Conservative voter who lived in the USA what he missed about the UK, he was taken aback that he said the BBC and NHS the two things that were very much government led via the Treasury. If asked that question now I am sure he would say something different about the BBC, especially with their attitude to spending our money. Not like the BBC would give overpaid managers massive payoffs at our expense or employ a former MP with no experience of technology implementation in charge if technology at the BBC, oh wait hang on!
All the old favourites are here such as the tax that has always led to riots and it did in 1990 to with riots in Trafalgar Square yes The Poll Tax is there! Guiding you through that the likes of Chancellor Nigel Lawson saw it as nothing more than a fool's errand that would cost more politically and financially while Michael Heseltine had dismissed the proposals in the early 80s as unworkable. Even the architects of the scheme Kenneth Baker and William Waldergrave had misgiving by the time of implementation as things had changed during the course and were being led blindly by Margaret Thatcher and Nicholas Ridley. They also ask where on earth were Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition Party was at this time, on one of its naval-gazing exercises of the late 1980s as it happens, yes Hatton and Militant Tendency were still active causing the leadership to take their eye off the ball at that time.
This book guides us through some wonderful blunders, some we are clearly aware of now but were ignorant at the time. Or those blunders we could also see happening but the Honourable Members of Her Majesty's Government know better! Reminds me of the current and previous Government and their lust for HS2, which will be expensive with out of date trains and technology before a line is laid. We can see this as what it is a massive vanity project that we the public taxpayers do not want but some moronic politician knows better than us and hey it is only money, our tax money!
Through this book we are reminded of some blunders that happened even while opposition MPs spoke up and warned them of unintended consequences, please step up Michael Meacher, Margaret Beckett and Frank Haynes who all shouted that pension mis-selling would happen as an unintended consequence to changes in Pension Legislation. I will not point out who was right but I believe the mis-selling is costing us a few billion, easy money its only tax cash.
They also point to the failings of the Labour Years and their expensive blunders, Individual Learning Accounts anyone? Do not worry there is all ways the Asset Recovery Agency where assets remained unrecovered, or a favourite of the Treasury's the more expensive tax credits and debits. My favourite is the implementation of IT across Whitehall, and the technophobe Tony Blair who implementated one of the biggest rollouts of IT which still gives the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office enough work to last another life time.
There is also honourable mentions for the famed massively expensive rip off of tax money the Public Private Partnerships and the one that does get highlighted is one forgotten by most of the UK shall we mention "Metronet" leave it at that and invite you to read more about it in the chapter, Down the tubes.
This wonderful book covers all the reasons as to why blunders happen, whether it is due to the constant change of Ministers, or the lack of accountability to Parliament. How sometimes Ministers of all political shades act more like activists than leaders of a government department. Let's not forget how the press can assist in the blunders of our political leaders by generating panic, picking symbols of this panic and spinning it out of control.
The Blunders of our Government is the best summary from a non-partisan view of the mistakes all governments have made usually with the best of intentions. Sometimes it also shows how out of touch some of our elected representatives really are. As it says on the dust jacket this is a must read for all those who are Ministers of the Crown and those who wish to be, including the opposition. I have read this with a mixture of laughing, crying and just simply shaking my head. This is a book not just for politicians and the students of politics but for those of us who are historians who will one day have to write and define governments and their reasons for success and failure. This is the first time things have been defined and it is a must read for all those in Parliament now! by Paul D