Friday, December 21, 2007

The Dangers of Taking the Politics Out of Government

Remember these fine words from Gordon Brown at the 2007 Labour Party Conference?
Let me be clear: any newcomer to Britain who is caught selling drugs or using guns will be thrown out. No one who sells drugs to our children or uses guns has the right to stay in our country...If you commit a crime you will be deported from our country. You play by the rules or face the consequences.

Fine words, which could have been uttered by Michael Howard. And there's the rub. Michael Howard, as Home Secretary, would have ensured that it happened. Gordon Brown, however, seems contentto let the Border & Immigration Agency to stick two fingers up at him. They're refusing to even look at deporting anyone who has a prison sentence of less than twelve months.

This shows the dangers of "taking the politics out" of certain aspects of our system of government. It's all very well to have independent agencies, but they should still be forced to implement government policy. This is my worry over the NHS. We constantly hear cries for it to be independent of politicians, but the truth is, it never can be and never ought to be. Any body which spends more than £100 billion needs proper political accountability. And if politicians in the House of Commons aren't there to provide that, then you have to question why we bother electing them in the first place.


Archbishop Cranmer said...


So why should the Bank of England be independent?

Why should heads and governors run schools, or medical professionals run hospitals?

And leaving the Church of England to make its own bishops and archbishops is going to create a self-perpetuating cabal of a 'liberal' elite - it is a recipe for disaster (if it could get much worse).

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

I love how he invokes the "our children" clause. Love it. Not at all crass. Not one bit.

Anonymous said...

Mum & Dad were right after all - they warned me about the Bogeyman.

tory boys never grow up said...

Make your mind up - I daresay if the Government was to intervene in everything then you would accuse them of being Stalinist.

Some sensible thinking about the role of politicians in public administration, based on a sensible understanding of what they can and cannot achieve, is well overdue in both parties.

I seem to remember all the Thatcherites prattling on about how the Civil Service was always thwarting their plans so this is not a new problem.

I suspect that a real part of the problem is that all the parties tend to dominated by career politicians and that anyone who has any real management skills in large organisations stays well clear either through incliniation or because they do not have the time to climb the greasy poles.

Anonymous said...

I take your point about accountability for government agencies, but the NHS is very different. If you hand the NHS over to independent and competitive firms and let people choose who treats them, the NHS becomes directly accountable to the taxpayer - which is far more desirable than making the NHS accountable to politicians.

Aaron Murin-Heath said...

Ah, I see the rehabilitation of Michael Howard is almost complete.

Next: Nigel Lawson.

Who said it was only Liberals who were revisionists...

Anonymous said...

Trouble is the politico's confuse accountability with operational control. Sure make the health system on which public money (NOT 'government' money - our money) is spent accountable, but take it right out of any politcal control, as in running it, which they patently can't. And at which this Government gets the prize for being the most inept, ever.

K S Rees said...

I've never felt such gratitude for Tony Blair - even if he did little else right, he kept this man out of office for ten years.

A Swansea Blog

fairdealphil said...

Iain says: 'Michael Howard, as Home Secretary, would have ensured that it happened...'

Er, is that the same Michael Howard who promised more police then cut them by over 1,000 during his term as Home Secretary....?

Anonymous said...

The biggest way in which the politics has been taken out of government, though, is the EU. Legislation vitally affecting everybody´s lives is just nodded through by our elected representatives because it implements some non-sensical EU Directive or other. Someday we will take our democracy back, though it may require a major crisis for us to do so.

Anonymous said...

Lefty troll Tory Boys writes: "I seem to remember all the Thatcherites prattling on".

They "prattled", did they? Could you define "prattled" for us? They didn't issue statements or give comments to the media? They "prattled on"?

Now if you were to mention that Harriet Harman is "prattling on" about outlawying prostitution, that is a description I could go with. And Jack Straw "prattles on" about anything that catches his gnat-like attention. Hazel Blears prattles.

Tory Boys, could you give us some examples of the Torys "prattling on" about the Civil Service? How often does one have to address an issue before being accused by lefties of "prattling"? And how many more times does it take to be accused of "prattling on"?

Anonymous said...

I am afraid the we honest tax-crippled Brits are just being Royally taken from behind by the current Government in every aspect of our sad lives. Of course, if you happen to be a criminal, an illegal immigrant, a 14-year old single parent etc etc then you're laughing.

Anonymous said...

FWIW - I thought the shadow minister who addressed this issue on the Today programme this morning between 7 and 7:30 did a really good job of presenting the arguments about Gordon's spin vs reality, and destroying the official responses

Anonymous said...

And, of course, the Blair Government passed the Human Rights Act in 1998 to ensure that future British Prime Ministers looking to utter sound bites to impress the gullible and politically naive with memorable phrases such as British Jobs for British Workers or deporting foreign criminals etc actually are unable to do so

Since Gordon was a member of that government perhaps he'd better study the Act he actually helped pass into UK law before uttering anymore such gibberish.

Anonymous said...

Howard will be just as ignored in the maelstrom of EU, Health & Safety, Human Rights, Employment and whatever-else Regulations that make people unsackable & unaccountable and life as we knew it, unworkable.

What has happened is that we have legislated ourselves into a gridlock where any decision that is made breaks a law in some way somewhere and so cannot be executed without tedious long legal fights.

Think of this gridlock like you'd think of a hoarder's home --- every room chock-a-bloc with junk (often expensive, useful and beautiful, skillfully and elegantly piled, but ... junk) with little pathways through and over the mess, and no-one quite knows what is beneath the piles anymore.

How do you clean up a house like it, and free the owners?

You call a skip company that takes it all far away, you clean the house from top to bottom and repaint it, and then very carefully buy new furniture and things that you actually need.

Space and simplicity is a lot more important than we think, in everything we do and are.

Labour and the EU have vandalised our systems by deluging them in laws, rules and regulations.

Will the Tories have the nerve to clean out those Augean Stables built in the past 10 years?

Savonarola said...

Gordon's tough talk at the Labour Conference on deporting the criminals who sell our children drugs etc has damaged what remains of his 'credibility' following publication of the Immigration Dept 'We don't give a toss about deporting criminals who serve less than 12 months' memo.
NuLab are bust. Like the UK economy despite Brown and Darling's blatant lies to the contrary. Grow your own vegetables.

Anonymous said...

Smart man that Cranmer. Seems like you Iain are started to get the bug as well.

Could not agree with you more Iain. There is currently no point in voting for them at all. The place is completely out of all democratic control. But surly thats the whole point.

I could go into my usual conspiracy theory about this. But whats the point its all going to become self apparent soon anyway.

The structure is not wrong its the minds behind it that are a crooked as a nine bob note. Cameron could do much to help and quite quickly if he had the intention to do so, and was in power.

The only questions in my mind right now are does he, and would he be allowed to do much even if in his heart he very much wanted to?

Ralph said...

That speech is destined to go down as one of the biggest own goals in political history, not because it was that bad or a rewrite of a Kerry speech, but because line after line is (and will) come back to haunt Brown and Labour.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately , just as freedom of speech means freedom to say deplorable things, so independence (e.g. for local government) must mean freedom to implement deplorable policies.

If, on the other hand, you say independent agencies "should still be forced to implement government policy" you are into targets and central bureaucratic control.

But as Daniel Finkelstein wrote in The Times this week, "there are not enough hours in the week to run big government properly."

If you doubt it, he says, read Sir Michael Barber's Instruction to Deliver, an account of his time as head of Tony Blair's delivery unit. Barber says he could only make headway by focussing on just ten targets in four departments. Even then the demands on the PM's time meant he could spare "just an hour for an entire Department every three months."

tory boys never grow up said...


How do i define "prattling on" - talking without shedding any light on the subject. If you read my post I made it clear that it is not only the Thatcherites which have a monopoly in this regard. For evidence read any old Thatcherites biography - I'm sure that you will enjoy them - remember all the "one of us" nonsense.

Good to see that you are keeping up the Thatcherite tradition however.

Mulligan said...

The border police are doing a fine job... of ensuring entirely legal EU Citizens have to queue up for ages to get back into our own country. Nice uniforms as well.

If Brown was serious about dealing with drug dealers he'd start taxing them as viciously as he does everyone else trying to earn a living.

ps I can forgive anyone supporting Labour but these trolls who continue to champion the utterly despicable Brown are beyone sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Ian, I'm afraid you've got the wrong end of the stick on this one.

The reason BIA has no interest in deporting those serving less than one year is that that IS government policy. Have a look at the UK BOrders Act - passed in October. It specifically says that foreign criminals will be automatically deported - but then goes on to define 'foreign criminal' as those serving more than one year!

I'm afraid your mistake in this case is to confuse 'government policy' with one of Gordon Brown's soundbites. In fact, Brown had no intention of honouring what he promised.

Anonymous said...

It's all very well to have independent agencies, but they should still be forced to implement government policy.

What makes anyone think that the immigration service isn't following government policy? Trying to take a New Labour soundbite as actual intention is being somewhat optimistic I think.

Anonymous said...

Moriarty said...

"What makes anyone think that the immigration service isn't following government policy?"

Exactly. Nulab policy is always to increase the number of foreigners in Britain no matter who they are or what they do.