Thursday, July 09, 2009

Astonishing article from Simon Heffer

Astonishment, nay shock at Simon Heffer's latest column. Was is the radical policy? Was it the breathtaking political insight? No; it was the fact that he referred to David Cameron as 'Mr. Cameron'. You see almost since David Cameron became Conservative leader he has been the subject of a stream of vitriol from Mr. Heffer, who took to referring to him as 'Dave' as a mark of his particular contempt. This was at a time when 'Simon' was particularly impressed with Gordon Brown and when he was convinced that the Conservatives would never move into the position as a credible challenger to Labour under David Cameron. To be fair, Mr. Heffer has changed his mind about both and now has dropped the playground insults in favour of political commentary, which is of course is his job. The advice he gives here is that public sector jobs will have to go.
There is no easier way to save money than by sacking people from the public payroll. This will entail more than cutting a few quangos: a defence expert recently told me that 25 per cent of the 100,000 civil servants at the Ministry of Defence could go without any detrimental effect to our defence capabilities. That is just one example. How many bureaucrats are there in the Department of Health dealing with a target culture that does nothing to improve hospitals? How many are there in the schools department who are helping achieve the stunning levels of mediocrity that so distinguish our state education system? And what about the growth-like-Topsy of our local government, where some county council leaders now have entourages and vast private offices, and where business is run by a "cabinet"?
He actually has a point, but it is the sort of point that someone has when observing that large mammals defecate in forests. Anyone who knows anything about organisations knows that about 75% of the cost of a typical office-based operation are staff costs. So, calling for David Cameron to cut civil service jobs is about as useful as suggesting that someone cashes in a winning lottery ticket. It is pointless and obvious, given that the Conservatives have already committed to a very sharp reduction in government spending. That it hasn't been spelled out in lurid detail is neither here nor there. It is going to happen, because it must.

I suspect that Mr. Heffer is paid to provide a rather higher degree of political insight than that.

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