STATE STUPIDITY: Thin air in Edinburgh, Unfair & Square in the British Council.

A big fan of the British Council, and Australian hackers

Camerlot’s cuts seem to have missed a lot of monopoly and waste in government

Last night, The One Show for once  raised its game and ran an expose of the Edinburgh trams fiasco. For those who’ve never heard of this public spending disaster, it’s an example of LibDem madness without parallel. Over several years – despite already existing bus services that could have been easily updated – the Council set about a £545 million project to put in new tram services. They’ve now run out of money at £788 million, and the project has not as yet produced a single working tram.

The usual zero commercial nous has been apparent from the outset. The suppliers were untied by supply and time penalties, and given a loophole through which they could whinge, complain and delay at the taxpayers’ expense. Thanks to friends oop North, I have seen the contract, and to anyone who has ever commissioned anything in the real world, it is a serious weeping and wailing matter. Had I agreed to anything remotely resembling this during my career, I would have been fired – and deservedly so. I might even have done the decent thing with grandad’s service revolver.

New figures figures reveal it will now cost £750 million to cancel the project – but bizarrely (and only Nalgo pillocks could arrange such an outcome) only £340 million to complete it. So then, no blackmail, huh? Dear oh dear oh dear, pop goes the weasel.

The Left in Britain is fond of pretending that such examples of financial incontinence are merely extreme cases picked out by Dacre Mail hacks with nothing better to do. My own experience is that, on the contrary, if the full extent of waste, incompetence and – just as bad – unfair monopolies keeping the private sector out – were known, local Government officers and civil servants would be joining bankers, accountants and lawyers on the bonfire.

Nowhere is this more true than in the foreign service. David Blackie is a bloke who blogs on this subject, usually to a specialist audience consisting of other poor buggers who’ve been stitched up by everyone from Jeremy Hunt to Lord Kinnock. The connection between these latter two twisters, if you hadn’t already sussed it, is the British Council.

We’ve come across the British Council here before. As far as I’ve been able to gather over the last few months, the Council seems to exist largely to provide a massive cesspool of monopoly in which wannabe rich politicians can fish on their way to becoming financially independent at the expense of the taxpayer. Suffice to say that level playing fields and open fair-play supplier submissions and the British Council are strangers unconnected even at the superficial level of Facebook. After all, if you’re a faceless manipulator, what’s the point of being on Facebook?

An obliging whistleblower has passed Blackie some internal BC discussions (aka old pal back-scratching) which he quite rightly describes as follows:

Here, on the record, a dozen senior British Council managers, grant-funded themselves of course and thus in clear contempt of any mythical firewall, discuss how they will “monetize their digital offer”, “grow FCR contracts”, “grow sponsorships… English and exams”, while embedding an understanding of the” trickier legal issues”.  We all know why the BC continues with this deceit; quite simply if the playing field were level the organisation would disappear.’

Waster bollocks in local government and the uncivil quango ‘service’ sectors will not be solved  by letting the private crooks in: all we will be doing is replacing one set of twisters with another – as the Edinburgh Tramlines demonstrate only too well. What we need is the civil service, quango, and local government gravy trains replaced by mutualised organisations – whose guiding lights are Members’ Interests and Community Service. It’s been working for JLP for many decades, and before the Big Bang madness, it worked superbly for the Building Societies.

The Slog’s mutualising aspirations are not fluffy pies in the sky: they are a better alternative to the tyranny of choice we have now between self-serving pinstripes and greedy gargoyles. We made a terrible mistake in decimating the mutual sector during the Eighties and Nineties: we should admit that now, as part of the painful process of rebalancing our economy and restoring our ethics.

Learn more at The Slog’s dedicated page MUTUALITY