The dichotomy of modern government is that the existence of ministerial pay-packets, pensions, perks and kudos relies on those incumbent in the offices doing things, whereas the most effective way for things to happen is for them to get out of the way and stop acting as a brake on every endeavour. They will never do this, or at least anyone who is a member of any of the big three parties won’t.
As is apt on Hallowe’en, a spirit from the past has risen up to try and give us all a scare.
Michael Heseltine has just popped back from the dead to give us the benefit of his wisdom by delivering an eighty something point plan for the government to ‘generate growth’. There are some crackers in there.
Right. And how is that going to generate growth? You take billions of pounds from one area of government and move it to another. Oh, there’ll be growth alright, the Local Enterprise Partnerships (and note ‘partnership’ as far as government and civil service are concerned is the private sector jumping through hoops for a few quid, becoming entirely beholden and subservient to the department handing out the cash) will grow, their staff numbers will increase, the little empires within will see their borders expanding and the budgets will run unchecked. Very little of that money will go to local enterprise. It would make more sense to not take the money off those same local enterprises in the first place. Growth in local, small, independent business? As close to nil as makes no difference.
Lord Heseltine also calls for councils to be given a legal duty to promote development
What does that even mean? Look, dickhead, it is the job of the council to make sure the bins are emptied, that the pavements are in a decent state of repair, that the grass in the park is cut. How the hell are they supposed to promote development? It means nothing. Nothing at all. Are we talking about publicising what a wonderful place Crapshire is for doing business? It’s easy for you, if you think that Crapchester would benefit from having the Dept. for toenail clippings and belly button fluff based in the town then you move it there, because truth be told it doesn’t matter where the department is based. For enterprise to succeed there has to be a demand for the service or product provided, this is why you can walk around the streets of Kettering all day long and not find a ship’s chandler – there’s no demand. Government and quangos cannot create that demand, it just can’t.
and for pay restrictions on the senior Civil Service to be lifted to attract private sector talent. He says it “takes too long for decisions to be made” by civil servants and ministers.
Oh for crying out loud. Look, try to get this through your thick skull; government cannot drive growth, it can only get out of the way and let it happen. We don’t need private sector talent immobilised in the tedium and administration of the civil service, we need them in the private sector generating wealth, it doesn’t matter if they are the greatest entrepreneur the world has ever seen, all the time they are in the public sector they will not generate any money, the public sector consumes it does not generate, accept this fact. The reason that entrepreneurs can make decisions is that they are in sole charge of their enterprise, they live and die by their decisions, thus those who are best at making decisions remain in business longer and make a lot of money.
In the civil service you can’t even get a light bulb changed without a committee meeting and agonising over the budget for the bulb, the budget for the wages of the person changing the bulb, the environmental aspect of the new bulb and the disposal of the old. It takes an age to do anything, because all these little empires have their little emperors, obsessed with protocol and grades and responsibility and liability, and making a decision takes forever, then once the decision is taken the paperwork has to be done so the fact that protocol and grades and responsibility and liability have been considered can be documented in case of the feared and mythical audit. The entrepreneur will give the office boy a fiver from the petty cash and send him down to Homebase to buy a lightbulb.
Ministers are even worse, they will not worry about whether what they have proposed is correct and desirable, they will worry about how it makes them look on Newsnight or in the Grauniad, how it matches with the PM’s statement on bananas or his launch of the new washing line policy, and more importantly will it get them re-elected or allow them to move further up the greasy pole? This is compounded by the fact that they are crippled with indecision because they know nothing about the subject their department is there to regulate and thus they must be guided by a group of civil servants who are obsessed with protocol, grade, responsibility and liability and can’t answer the simplest question without going away and setting up a project group and a steering committee, because they are scared witless that the ‘wrong’ answer, that being one where the response has an undesirable effect rather than it being incorrect in fact, will lead to their little empire being trimmed or swept away.
He believes that all money earmarked for economic growth should be collected together, with local partnerships able to bid for funding. About £9 billion of European funding for deprived areas should also be handed straight to localities to spend on kick-starting the economy.
Note that in that there’s no mention of money going to businesses, it’s all about vague political platitudes of kick starting. Like I said above, you can’t generate demand by spending money. You can build the world’s biggest cupcake shop, but if people nearby don’t want cupcakes, it ain’t going to make any difference, is it?
Furthermore, it isn’t £9 billion of European funding, it’s £9 billion of our funding, that was probably closer to £14 billion when it left these shores for Brussels. Money, and I really can’t state this often or clearly enough, that would be sloshing around our economy already had it not been taken off the taxpayer and corporations in the first place. Good God man, the £9 billion funding is a symptom of the malaise, not the cure.
The effort should be overseen by a National Growth Council headed by the Prime Minister. Cabinet ministers would oversee different areas and senior civil servants would be hired by those with business expertise.
A. National. Growth. Council. Kill me now, just kill me now. So vain, so arrogant and so hubristic are these people, they think that if they form yet another talking shop they can somehow make people go and spend money they don’t have on a service they don’t need. You’re just replicating what happened before the crash, you stupid, stupid, stupid man. People with business expertise will not be interested in hiring civil servants, they’re too busy trying to generate money, despite the best efforts of the government to frustrate them at every turn, by running their business.
Dumber than a bag of hair.
Government can no more generate jobs and wealth than I can spin straw into gold.
Here’s a simple 6 step plan to get the hell out of the way and allow growth to happen:
1. Slash corporation tax.
2. Slash income tax.
3. Slash VAT.
4. Abolish employer’s NI contributions.
5. Stop taking all our bloody money, stop spending it, stop borrowing money that doesn’t belong to us, stop spending that money as well.
6. Sit quietly behind your desk and don’t touch anything.