The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Cut Conflab

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 8, 2010 @ 09:43

It's fortunate for me that there is almost one of these motivational style posters for every subject...

It sounds like it should be the name of a hairdressing consultant, but, apparently it’s what we’re all going to be subject to in the coming months.

I’m on the fence about this for two reasons.

One, this a new government, with a good mandate from coalition. It has political capital to spend, and if it wants to prove itself, prove that all those years in opposition were spent thinking and planning what to do with power, then it should have the courage of its convictions to get to work. After all, the public have only just been consulted a little over one month ago…

On the other hand, I have some sympathy with the argument. The problem is that throughout the campaign, no one was prepared to say what they were prepared to cut. There was nothing in the manifesto on specifics. The £6.2bn that’s already been cut had no detail pre-election either. It was just a figure the Tories wanted. And they got it. They at least had a mandate for that target, but there is no mandate for, say, big cuts in the welfare budget, as David Cameron seemed to suggest yesterday.

But does that mean they will suddenly get a mandate if they launch a consultation exercise and suddenly find that the public backs cuts here there and everywhere? Probably not. After all, there is no danger the consultation is going to come back and say people like their current level of public service spending, thank you very much. Cameron and Co would never risk such embarrassment.

That means the consultation will have its terms of reference severely limited to outlining where the axe should fall. Perhaps George Osborne will say the target is 20%, and the mandarins and other bureaucrats (who, by the way, we hate for their wasteful spending!) will make some appropriate suggestions. Then the public will be invited to ask if they agree, and by jingo, I bet you they will.

After all, who responds to consultations? They’re hardly likely to be representative of the public at large.

Politics is all about judgement. This new government has some serious decisions to take in the months ahead, but is already seeming to want to shrink back from them for the time being, at a time when their mandate is highest, and the honeymoon is still in progress, Laws or no Laws.

Farming these decisions out to “independent”, “non-partisan” people just makes a mockery of the political process. If we want a government of technocrats, governed by some theoretical concepts of utilitarianism, we might as well just abolish democracy now.

That’s why they really should just get on with it.


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