Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let's Cull the Tory Hating Quangocrats

This is a post by Paul Goodman, originally published on ConservativeHome. It's message is so important that I asked Tim M if I culd publish it in full here

This is a true story.

A friend of mine recently met a Labour-appointed and Labour-supporting Quangocrat.

“Is the Government asking you to make cuts in your budget,” asked my friend, “and if so, what are you doing?”

“It's very difficult,” the Quangocrat replied. “Obviously, we don't want to make cuts in our budget. But my first duty is to the Ministers who appointed me. I'm drawing up a plan for savings that won't make headlines - a recruitment freeze, more early retirements, back-office savings, that sort of thing. No cuts to politically-sensitive projects with a high public profile.”

“And if a new Conservative Government asks you to make cuts in your budget,” asked my friend, “what will you do?"

“It's very simple,” the Quangocrat replied. “Obviously, we don't want to make cuts in our budget. And my first duty is to the organisation I serve. I'm drawing up a plan for savings that will be made in a way that the public will notice.”

“Cuts to politically-sensitive projects with a high-profile?” asked my friend.

“In a way that the public will notice,” repeated the Quangocrat.

We should listen and learn - because we've a choice, if elected.

Option One is to leave all the Labour-appointed and Labour-supporting Quangocrats in place - because it's the least controversial, most painless, easiest course to take. But if left in place, the same Quangocrats will, if asked to make savings:

* Say publicly that they've “grave reservations” about “cuts that threaten the whole future of Britain's [fill in here] industry” and that they “weren't appointed to preside over the end of the [fill in here] industry in Britain”.
* Brief privately that Ministers are “throwbacks to the Thatcher era” who “refuse to listen” and by “letting the market rip” are re-enacting “the worst excesses of the 1980s”.

- and then either -

* Resign (Unlikely: bad for salary, worse for pension.)
* Be sacked (More likely: good for the memoirs, even better for the serialisation deal.)
* Stay in place (Most likely, as Ministers agonise over what's to be done - while cuts take place in a way that the public notices, and hostile coverage of the Government mounts).

Option Two is to sack the most recalcitrant Quangocrats right at the start - pour encourager les autres. Problem solved.

Ah, you object - but these Quangocrats will still be paid off. And sacking them is difficult.

To which my reply is: yes, it's difficult. But if sacked, they won't be in place to make cuts that cause maximum damage to both their organisation and the Government. Or complain that “heartless Tories fired me for defending Britain's [fill in here] industry”.

Or make that serialisation deal..


Simon Smethurst-McIntyre said...

Surely the solution is to reshape the Quangos, hence creating new organisations that need new heads. There will be a cost in doing it but probably not one as high as leaving the current heads in place.

strapworld said...

It is not difficult to sack quangocrats I do not think. They are appointed bya Minister and the new Minister can just wind up the Quango. End of story.

I was Chairman of an NHS Trust, there was none and I do not think there are any pension arrangements for quangocrats.

There is no contract and the letter of appointment clearly stated, I have just re-read mine- tells one that the term of appointment may be changed by the Minister.

There is, of course, the great possibility that this Labour government wriote seperate and different letters of appointment for their pals.

Man in a Shed said...

The truth is we now have a politcised public service, at least in the area of Quango's andf the BBC.

The Quangocrats should be culled en mass, but not before a bill passes parliament tot strip their gold plated pension entitlements, payoffs etc.

The BBC must be broken up and privatised.

Job done.

No wobbles - just a knife to the heart of parasitic socialism thrust in to the hilt on day one.

DespairingLiberal said...

One of the worst quangos is the British Conservative Party.

It was widely seen as doomed in the 1970s, but a woman from Finchley (a classic piece of over-promotion!) was put in charge of it on a vast salary and given all sorts of spurious goals like "sorting out the unions", "bashing Galtieri" and "decreasing cones". (Sorry, that last one was her successor). Anyway, after each and every election during the 80s, this bloated quango became more and more cocky, wasteful and excessive. Large quantities of champagne could regularly be seen being unloaded at their opulent headquarters in Smith Square. Later on they sold these off, presumably for some vast hidden profit.

This quango has staggered on under various subsequent governments. Nobody knows what it is really for. There are rumours that it is going back to it's original purpose of finding sinecures for old Etonians. I personally can't believe that such an elitist institution also has charitable status! I refer to the Tory Party, not Eton.

For a while it was run by a sensible fellow in a grey suit, a sort of accountant type of chap. But then it fell into bad ways and had a whole series of very bad managers, including W Hague (formerly a management consultant and heavy drinker - perhaps!) and M Howard (no calls during the hours when the sun is exalted please) - only recently has it once again started to become arrogant and overbearing. Foolishly it's senior managers are now demanding control over all the other quangos, plus the health service and the Army!

The only sensible step will be to stop this massive quango cold in it's tracks after the election. Get deep cuts in it's budget and sack it's senior staff. We simply do not need yet another quango whose sole raison d'etre is the overpromotion of public school kids and keeping them in excessive salaries.

Raedwald said...

There are those like Dame Suzi Leather, active Labour Party members, who should never have been appointed to their posts in the first place, those who are pliable establishment placemen, willing to serve any political master for the right price, and those who head quangos based on their professional or academic credentials.

The first category must be dispensed with immediately. The second category can be bought off with money or peerages. The third category can be retained, merged or subsumed into mainstream public service.

The culling of a dozen or so high-profile political appointees within days of taking office will send the right message to the others.

Unsworth said...

Anybody have a definitive list of all the Quangos?

Tom said...

Sack the quangocrats and don't replace them. That would be a welcome method of making cuts :-)

Boo said...

Surely if the quangocrat cuts "essential service" instead of wage freezes and back room costs, the minister can say,
"Oh look at the evil bureaucrat, culling essential services instead of touching their little perks. I will sack these self-interested bureaucrat and protect the essential services so essential to the british way of life."
Then proceed to cleanse purge, sack the entire Quangocracy.

The Laughing Cavalier said...

Sacking the top knobs will not be enough; what will be needed afterwards is an ideological cleansing akin to the de-Nazification of Germany 65 years ago.

Roger Thornhill said...

Qangos should be cut because of their function, not their CEO's political stance.

I suspect what this post reflects is the up coming reality. Friendy quangos survive, hostile are cut.

This is taking Blair's politicisation of the Civil Service one step further. Next will be Labour gets in and extends it to contracts for hostile and friendly businesses using it to also push their "equality" agenda. Then the Tories come in and extend to the suppliers of the contractors.

So, in brief - STOP IT.

Cull Qangos on function and priority.

1. Ensure Quangos are truly independent (and responsible for their own severance pay-outs, pensions etc.[1])

2. Repatriate and statutory powers to where it belongs - the Civil Service and Government.

3. End Government Funding.[2]

Simmer gently and watch how the heads try and jump with all the cash and sod the services.

[1] If bodies funded by the state on-pass funding to any, then, unless they cut it too, their own funding will be cut by the same amount.

[2] Some Quangocrats may have links to their previous life in the State, so might have messy pensions and severance entanglements. To me this is a grave error and binds the Taxpayer to pay for a so called "independent" body that is not under democratic or Executive control. As such, is the contract of transfer preserving such advantages lawful?

Praguetory said...

After years of Labour rewarding their people with funds and sinecures, we will need a purge that will make McCarthy look like a wimp.

George said...

Labour appoints QuangoCrats so Tories can unappoint and appoint their own more compliant types.

In any event Quangoes are undemocratic and remove control and accountability from the electorate.
NuLabour has used the facility to find jobs for supporters and as a methodology to subvert Parliament Whilst those Europhiles find Quangoes a neat route to by-pass Westminster and to ensure that insidious pro EU agit-prop is disseminated and inward investment ascribed to Brussels rather than the taxpayers.

The way forward is to simply supplant the old with the new. Even sacking the old Labourites will attract headline news, with the BBC making great play along with the usual suspects amongst the dead tree press.

Yake a leaf from the Yanks, Presidentail changes always results in changes in the top governmental jobs. Its the old adage about inside and outside the tent!!

Ian said...

Privatise the Beeb, and put the license fee into a "public service broadcasting fund" instead - then have a tapered redistribution by allowing alternative broadcasters to bid for 10% of the fund in the first year, 20% in the second etc.

Floating the BBC would probably generate a significant amount of money, the tapered redistribution would avoid the charge of ruining the "unique" bbc, and it'd be fun to watch the socialist cockroaches scatter as the free-market lights came on.

OldSlaughter said...

Northcote and Trevelyan must be spinning in their graves.

What a ghastly mess.

OldSlaughter said...


A typically poor effort. The chip on your shoulder has morphed into a full pack of frozen McCain's.

I'll bite though. What exactly was Thatcher's 'vast salary'?

QUANGO bosses can get 5-600,000 sometimes. Thatcher went from 30 odd to 40 odd grand added to her MPs salary over her ten years.

Vast indeed for the country's leader.

BTW. PM's pay

1979- £33,000
1996- £58,500

1997- £100,000
2009- £133,000

Of course Tony and Gordon are only in it for the worst off.

John R said...


You're quite correct about the problem and possible solutions. I agree that the "short, sharp shock" approach would definiely be the best solution.

But this Conservative leadership appears to have no backbone and isnt really conservative at all. Do you really think we'll see the bloody "night of the long knives" that the quangocracy so richly dereves?

Rush-is-Right said...

OT... but I am spitting with rage about the announcement this morning that the new Quango to monitor MPs expenses is to cost £6.5m and employ 80 staff.

There about 630 MPs, so that means that the monitoring of their expenses is going to cost over £10,000 per MP. And if there are going to be 80 staff, that is fewer than 8 MPs per staff member.

This is quite monstrous, and a perfect illustration of the waste that is endemic in the public sector.

My suggestion; hire a good accountant and give him a staff of 5 to be going on with. And an office in the provinces. Total cost around £500k tops. Simple.

DespairingLiberal said...

OldSlaugh, I wasn't being 100% literal in my posting, as you may perhaps have noticed, so you will have to forgive some poetic license - the "vast salary" was intended as a witty reference to the obsession many of you have with public sector salaries. I am happy to agree that some of them are rather obscene but then again, so is paying brokers in banks multi-million pound bonuses in the current climate when they have done nothing that requires any great skill to generate such profits. A ready supply of cheap cash from the government should continue to keep them all in profit for some time to come!

As for my chips, I prefer M % S Yukon Gold. Far more classy.

Mr. Mxyzptlk said...

Andrew Neil: So how many do you think you’ll get rid of?

Phillip Hammond: Well this isn’t a crude bonfire of the quangos. What David has said this morning is there are some quangos which we will need to keep because they do jobs which are properly at arms’ length from government. There are others which will need to be radically reformed and there are some which can be scrapped altogether..

AN: So how many will you get rid of?

PH: We’re working our way through that process.

AN: So how many will you get rid of?

PH: I don’t have a total number, we don’t know yet at this stage…

AN: You’ve been in opposition 12 years. Has it only just dawned on you to cut quangos?

PH: All my spending departmental colleagues are looking at the quangos that answer to their departments and categorising them into these three categories.

AN: How many will you create?

PH: Well we haven’t said that we won’t create any new bodies, for example the Office of Budget Responsibility…

AN: So that’s a new one you will create.

PH: It’s a key part of our plan to create a fiscal…

AN: No I understand the purpose, but it’s a quango. Office of Tax Simplification?

PH: Er, the Office of Tax Simplification also a key part of our plans.

AN: So that’s two. An Australian-style sports commission?

PH: An Australian-style sports commission?

AN: You promised that too.

PH: Er, ok. But…

AN: So that’s three.

PH: OK, but Andrew but the point is every body whether existing or proposed will have to pass the test that David has set out this morning…

AN: Yeah but you propose them. A Skills Advisory Service?

PH: They will have to pass the test that David has set out…

AN: So that’s another quango.

PH: …this morning. Do they perform a technical function that happens to be done at arms-length from government, do they perform an allocation function which needs to be politically impartial or do they perform a transparency function like the Office of National Statistics…

AN: A Defence Export Services organisation, that’s another one you’re going to create?

PH: Well that’s a body frankly that existed that existed until very recently…

AN: So you’ll create another quango?

PH: the government has folded it in to another body and we’re saying that it needs to continue to operate in order to support our…

AN: I’m sure there’s good reasons for it all, creating these 17 new quangos that you promised…

PH: Andrew we’re talking about 1,100 quangos in total…

AN: Yeah but you can’t…I’ve got 17 here you’re going to create if you get into power. You can’t give me 17 you’re going to get rid of.

PH: I can promise you it will be a lot more than 17.

AN: Well give me 17?

PH: Well David’s announced two this morning…

AN: Right, so far you’ve got net 15?

PH: I can’t promise you about the Potato Board because we haven’t looked in detail at that yet but we all know there are hundreds of quangos that we know no longer need to operate independently, at arms-length from government.

for those of you who wish to see it in Glorious Technicolor

john in cheshire said...

What about passing legislation, within the first couple of months of the new government, to shutdown all the quangos with no compensation. If this was done in concert with repealing the Human Rights legislation, then the socialist destroyers could have no comeback. And more pleasantly, would be on the dole and looking for a non-existant job.

Scary Biscuits said...

The simple solution would be to close ALL quangoes, yes every single one.

The were created by John Major as a way of avoiding Parliamentary secrutiny of taxpayers' spending. (I know I worked for one). This has been taken to new extremes by Labour. They are fundamentally corrupt and simply replacing their bosses won't fix that.

Those that do something useful and unpolitical can be folded back into the Civil Service, where they belong. What Hammond said about quangoes being needed to be politically at arms length is nonsense. The CPS is politically independent (at least in theory) and this is fully part of the Civil Service.

The rest can be simply closed. It would be expensive to pay all their employees off but it would still be cheaper than continuing to pay them to oppose a Conservative government.

Folding the more useful quangoes back into government is politically useful as it outflanks Labour on the left, expanding the role of government, whilst still achieving overall cuts. Once that is completed the focus can be moved to depoliticising the Civil Service and removing Labour's appointees (replacing them on merit not simply on political bias).

Alas, the Cameroons have no intention whatsoever of doing this. They will probably end up copying Boris Johnson: leaving one's opponent's power structure in place whilst pretending to be in charge. The results will be similar: a relatively quiet life for the politician but no real reform, whilst the inexorable rise in taxes continues (although perhaps ever-so-slightly slower). For example, Boris chose to increase fares for Londoners rather than confront the vested interests of the bloated TfL. Red Ken now thinks he has a real chance of winning back City Hall next time around.

The same fate awaits Cameron.

DanielWarburton said...

On the semi-related topic of how public bodies are doing the Governments' work...

After being made redundant and spending 6 months unemployed, I was told I had to apply for a job indirectly working for the Cheshire East Primary Care Trust. The job is a six-month post (conveniently ending just after the GE is due) working, supposedly, to improve health services for young poeple. 150,000 people who have been unemployed for six months are being taken on. Since starting work there, my group has been subject to all the typical pro-Labour rants one associates with the public sector. The Chief Executive admitted to us that, with the election looming, 'we were banking on local companies having big recruitment drives. But no one's having one, so we have'. We have to sit listening to how things have gotten so much better in the last 13 years, and how terrible it would be to see all Labour's hard work undone...etc.

No wonder youth unemployment is falling when schemes like this are being run. This Government are still trying to do all they can to get people on the public payroll, with the public bodies taking up the job of electioneering.

JoeF said...

All true, but not nearly radical enough.

Also, quite true the party is not nearly radical enough either.

Almost all Quangos should be shut down. There is a fiscal crisis, The test should be asking the quangocrats- please justify why you are more important than your own local hospital/ police station/etc?

Also anyone left in Government should have a salary cap of say 100k maximum (lost make more than the PM), no more final salary pensions, retirement at 70, etc...

Otherwise we go way of Greece, but Germany doesn't need to bail us out

DeeDee99 said...

They should sack a couple as an example.

Chief Executives of the others should be offered a choice; make any cuts which we require in a politically-sensitive manner so that front-line services are as little affected as possible - or lose your job and your pension.

Which will it be?

Then start winding up the completely unnecessary Quangos - starting with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

neil craig said...

Indeed. When the Conservatives get in they will have a honeymoon period of about 100 days. In theat period they should announce all the massive cuts required including dumping all the non-productive quangos & worst of all the fakecharities.

Machiavelli was strongly of the opinion that doing all the killing at once got rid of the enemies & both impressed & reassured those left once you stopped.

As gardeners will know the best way to prune is thoroughly & as close to the bough as possible.

Most of the regulatory parts of government have strongly negative economic value. The rule of thumb is that one regulator costs the economy the work created by 20 workers. Culling 95% of the health & Safety Executive would do wonders for the country & save lives since GNP increases safety far more than any regulations.