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What a lovely irony - Blair hitches his wagons to Bush's international adventures, and then follows him closely in the incompetence stakes as well.

The Dome! Not just the (quite attractive) tent, the whole vacuous nothingness of what NewLab could dream up to fill it with, after all only millenia upon millenia of British history to reflect on.

You highligh tax credit fraud, but there are also I believe a huge number of families who have been put into vicious clawback situations via the tax credit disaster. It's the lethal combination here, strategic incompetence (only someone as non-human as Gordon Brown to make it a policy aim to means-test an ever greater part of the population), it's the tactical incompetence that goes with it (the IT doesn't work, the process is too inflexible, about a quarter don't apply anyway etc).

Hillary Armstrong: Incompetent Whip Of The Decade?

John Prescott.

Other examples of incompetence.

The Human Rights Act;
Post-War Iraq;
Sir Ian Blair as Met Commissioner;
The Government Gateway website that's rarely accessible;

Graeme Archer is quite correct about family tax credits: for 2 years running, people have been overpaid; they have queried the overpayments, only to be reassured that they were correct. A few months later, they have received a demand to repay, by which time the money has been spent, thus causing quite unnecessary hardship.
Other examples might include:
(i) Gordon Brown selling off a substantial portion of the country's gold reserves at about half of today's price.
(ii) GB giving advance warning of his intention to do so.
(iii) GB employing thousands of unnecessary bureaucrats who he now says he will axe as part of the Gershon economy drive.
The crucial point of this exercise surely for the tories is not only to make Labour look silly (not difficult) but also to suggest ways of convincing the electorate that we will actually deliver the goods more efficiently when we get in.

I just refer to the invaluable 'Bumper Book of Government Waste'.

Given this Government's inability to correctly prioritise its work, maybe we could add the vast amount of Parliamentary time wasted on the "Fox Hunting Bill" as an incompetency, a pointless and unenforced law that has, I understand, resulted in an increase in the number of foxes killed. I would add that I am not from the hunting fraternity myself.

PS Could we also add to the list the £5 billion p.a. stealth tax on pensions, that has had a very damaging effect on many schemes particularly the smaller ones that were struggling anyway.

Gordon Brown selling gold reserves has to be the most costly example of incompetence. Plus it has the added bonus of smearing Brown's economic record further in the eyes of the voters.

"Graeme Archer is quite correct about family tax credits: for 2 years running, people have been overpaid; they have queried the overpayments, only to be reassured that they were correct. A few months later, they have received a demand to repay" 10.23

But it is even worse than that, because when a very detailed and factually accurate letter is sent to the Tax Credit Office, outlining why it was entirely reasonable for the claimant to believe that the payments being made were correct, you receive no response to the letter at all.

At some later date a notification is sent saying that no further payments that are due, will be paid, but they will in effect be offset against the alleged overpayment.

As I recall for most people the old system of an adjustment to ones tax coding worked well.

I work in the City. No one can understand why the gold sale was done that way... It could so easily have been quietly slipped onto the market. Hell, there are professional outfits that would have organised such a sale properly. And before anyone asks - totaly legally. In fact the financial authorities tend not to like people showing up and dropping serious percentages of trading volume into a market.

"Plus it has the added bonus of smearing Brown's economic record further in the eyes of the voters."

I fear not enough voters know about this. We will have to highlight it more often when Brown becomes leader.

"PS Could we also add to the list the £5 billion p.a. stealth tax on pensions, that has had a very damaging effect on many schemes particularly the smaller ones that were struggling anyway."

That is only incompetence if you think that the damage to private pension schemes was not deliberate. If it was deliberate, it should be regarded as malice rather than incompetence.

Iain Dale & Guido Fawkes Little Red Book of Labour Sleaze - published just last week - will soon need a volume 2 to keep up with project New Labour!

Re Paul Kennedy @10.39 on the fox hunting Act. Not only have more foxes been killed but the main effect of the Act has apparently been to increase interest in hunting (law of unintended effect).
I agree that we should collect as many examples of Gordon Brown' incompetence as possible; for too long he has perpetuated this myth of being the best chancellor ever.
What about his recent attack on IHT trusts (that wasn't mentioned in the budget but appeared soon after)? The Treasury claims that it will only affect the very wealthy but lawyers and accountants say it could affect anyone with an estate that is higher than the threshold.

The name that is coming up more than others on these posts, is not Prescott ( that might have been expected), but Gordon Brown. This is the man that everybody until recently agreed was a genius!!?? Maybe it was that interpretation of genius, that the intelligence only exists in a very narrow sphere, AND has no application to normal eveyday life?????

Mind you some genius to sell the gold reserves at the markets lowest, but perhaps my comment still applies, and that cock-up only serves to illustrate that the man NEEDS to be kept in a 'white tower' doing what he does best (presumably) constantly ferret away to try and find ever more ways to obtain tax, but not let loose anywhere else.

Which if any of the counts of Labour incompetence were not known prior to the Election?

How were the media persuaded not to run these stories then, and why are they happy to run them now?

Don't forget failed attempt to instal a Regional Assembly in the North East.

"Don't forget failed attempt to instal a Regional Assembly in the North East."

It failed because people voted against it. Why blame the government for that? Are you suggesting it should have been imposed without a referendum?

"Which if any of the counts of Labour incompetence were not known prior to the Election?"

Things really are different now. This thread shows we should go back to the first five years very carefully, and see what we've all forgotten about. Those were years when NewLabour so outshone us that they could get away with anything, even selling policy concessions to Bernie Ecclestone for £1m. I bet there's a lot more if we looked.

I think the biggest indictment is that social mobility has reduced in the Blair years. It's criminal, and a direct result of Labour's incompetence (motives ok, method rubbish). Why don't we stress social mobility as our goal? Of course it would mean having a proper go at education, maybe even grammars...

"Why don't we stress social mobility as our goal? Of course it would mean having a proper go at education, maybe even grammars..."

Unfortunately, old Etonian Cameron is in favour of selective education based on parents' wealth (private schools) but opposed to selected education based on a child's ability (grammar schools).

I totally agree. We need more grammar schools to offer social mobility to poor but bright kids.

Re Chad @ 17.22. I agree with your remark about increasing the number of grammars to offer greater social mobility.
But also remember that it was a tory government that introduced grant maintained schools (rather similar to what Blair wanted to introduce with his trust schools - but totally independent of local authority control). About 1100 took up GM status and, as far as I am aware, they became very successful.
Obviously private schools have to be paid for but they do generally offer scholarships and bursaries, so that bright state pupils might be able to go to them (though probably not to the really expensive boarding schools).

I've found this list of wastefulness from a 2004 article by Oliver Letwin...

* The Civil Service was the size of Sheffield.
* Whitehall bureaucracy cost every household £850 per year.
* The number of tax collectors had increased almost twice as fast as new doctors and nurses.
* Just one department - Work and Pensions - employed more people than there are soldiers in the British Army.
* An extra 511 civil servants were employed during every week of 2003.
* The number of NHS managers was increasing three times as fast as that of new doctors and nurses.
* 12 pages of paperwork landed on each head teacher's desk each day of the school year.
* 15 new business regulations had been created every day since 1997.
* A criminal's arrest took, on average, three and a half hours to process.
* For every job the private sector lost in 2003, the public sector took on almost two jobs…

But I need more tales of incompetence please!

Yes, here is another apparent cock-up story in today's Telegraph...

'John Prescott spent millions of pounds of taxpayers money (again) on buying an area of outstanding natural beauty, with proud boasts (what else) that it wouold be 'transformed' into a 'community green space'. But not even his fiercest critics could have foreseen the destruction thast would ensue.'

'In an environmental blunder thast may result in criminal charges, a picturesque 360-acre home counties farm, once teeming with skylarks and other songbirds, now lies ruined. What remains is a barren wasteland of ploughed-up fields and withered crops, where the sound of birds is a distant memory because their nests have been destroyed.

The blunder was one of Prescott's last acts as the head of the ODPM'..... And so on. there are two pictures - a before and after, only it is the 'after' that is the wasteland.

I think that is another cock-up!!!

Editor: Don't forget the pigs ear that this government has made of the Child Support Agency. The CSA's incompetence is wll known, as is the fact that its new computer system was still not working properly and taking on new cases some year or more after it was supposed to come on line.

Here are some quotations from Alistair Darling which show just how great a gap there is between NuLab rhetoric and delivery.

Statement to Parliament when introducing White Paper on CSA reform, 1.7.99:

"We will put the confidence back into child support by introducing radical reforms in four key areas." [Col. 432]

"I can announce today that we will invest an extra £28 million over the next three years, but, in return, the CSA must deliver clear and tangible improvements - a better service, quicker decisions and more money getting to children than ever before." [Col. 433]

Statements in debate on Second Reading of Child Support, Pensions, and Social Security Bill, 11.1.2000:

"Decisions will be made within days rather than months of an application. The idea is that, once the amount has been fixed, the absent parent can be told how much is due. The money will start flowing faster, and everyone will know where they stand." [Col. 153]

"We are determined not to introduce the reforms before everything is in place. It is a large task. It is not just about new legislation but involves new information technology and significant changes to the way in which the agency works.

The agency's case load increased by some 80 per cent. over the past few years, so I want to ensure that we get the reforms right. I want them in place as quickly as possible, but no one would want us to introduce the new system if we were not satisfied that it would work from the start." [Col. 158]

"We are negotiating with EDS and the consortium that it leads to procure a new computer system for the CSA. We have spent some time doing so, because we want to ensure that the contract is right. It is due to be delivered towards the end of 2001, but I want to ensure that it actually works before we switch it on and transfer the new cases, let alone the old ones, to it." [Col. 159]

There is also the curious case of the resignation of CSA chief executive Doug Smith. At the time it was announced the impression was given that he--rather than Ministers--was accepting responsibility for the CSA's failures. But he subsequently received a high-powered honour (Companion of the Order of the Bath) in the 2005 New Years Honours. Very curious!

Yes Patsy, that second picture looks like a flattened out landfill site! Good old Prezza! What a waste of space.

Don't forget the farmers still waiting for their single farm payments - now possibly being delayed until October.

Ed, don't forget foot and mouth. The countryside was shut down, many farmers and tourist businesses ruined. NHS has had money poured in to litle or no effect and now is in deficit and laying people off. Remember "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", "education, education, education" etc etc. I think Campbell and Cherie auctioning off signed Hutton reports sums up how utterly amoral and lost this lot are.

Just a thought on New Labour decline. People were hoodwinked by Blair and when it really dawns on them that for the last 9 years Labour have achieved absolutely nothing they will see Labour off very rapidly. I have always said that when it topples it will be very messy.


You could nominate everything that the ODPM has touched particularly his "Sustainable Development" MasterPlan.

I think it was a Daily Telegraph reader last year who spotted that the anagram for CATASTROPHE is "Aha Prescott"

Editor, How about concentrating on one department at a time, and then listing the various in competencies over the last 9 years. I think the first department to highlight has got to be the treasury.
The scandal of the incompetence regarding the family tax credit system is all the more breathtaking due to the lack of media coverage. It is one of the classic examples of headline chasing followed by a great soundbite at PMQ's and budget speeches!
The fact that it has got to be one of the most badly administered and costly disaster's in Labour's 9 years of government does not seem to register. But then just look at the day the last set of figures were released, it really was a good day to bury bad news!
This maladministration is seriously hurting some honest hardworking families and costing the taxpayer a fortune!

Matt is right to remind us about the way foot and mouth was dealt with and also the government's incompetence in handling the NHS, Education, Law and Order etc.
There seems to me to be a fundamental, endemic problem underlying all these and other areas. Blair is so concerned with his "legacy" that he orders "eyecatching initiatives" at regular intervals. As Michael Howard rightly pointed out in an open letter in The Telegraph to John Reid recently, government should be more about "process" than a continuous stream of legislation.
Additionally, John Reid has held 7 (?)cabinet posts in 9 years, others several. Nobody actually stays long enough to find out what they are supposed to be doing and then get a grip of their department.
Do people get the same impression as me on this?
The other glaring example of incompetence was the reason Blair put forward for taking the country to war against Iraq. Having agreed that regime change was not a legitimate cause for war, as far as I recall, he stated that "Saddam has WMD that he can deploy in 45 minutes against British interests".
At a later date, he was forced to admit that he did not realise that these weapons were not WMD but conventional battlefield weapons. I believe that Geoff Hoon then turned round to him and told his PM that he knew that.
If research backs that recollection up, then to take the country to war on such a false assertion is surely incompetence of the highest degree.

Matt Wright @ 23.04, much as I would like to believe that you are right, I am afraid that there are quite a lot of labour voters, (and some senior MP's) who will tolerate all that government has NOT done - and more - because they would rather that situation than a conservative government, even if it was proved to be totally different in its ideas and approach. To these people especially elder MP's, an ounce of dogma is worth more than a ton of genuine effective caring! I wonder where they got their ideas from??! It also demonstrates that they are more interested in keeping their backsides on the leather in the HoC, or indeed the HoL than in really trying to alter mindsets in this struggling society.

This blog continues to amuse me. For example:-

"Editor: Don't forget the pigs ear that this government has made of the Child Support Agency"

Are you serious? The Tories invented the thing!!!

"The number of tax collectors had increased almost twice as fast as new doctors and nurses."

How do you propose paying for the latter without the former, Tim?

"* Just one department - Work and Pensions - employed more people than there are soldiers in the British Army."

Considering they have to deal with the entire UK population from cradle to grave, how many were you expecting? Three men and a dog?

If you find this blog so amusing why don't you put forward some sensible suggestions just for once Comstock?Or perhaps you agree that the CSA during its nine years of management by the present administration has been a triumph.I'm sure you would also agree that the poor old DWP has also been starved of funds.How many more civil servants should it employ do you think?

A leftie coming on here to comment amuses me even more Cornstock.

Labour have been in power for 9 years. The Child Support Agency has been run imcompetently. Just because the idea was concieved by the Tories doesn't mean Labour can absolve themselves of blame for poor management.

The Tax collectors have been employed to cope with Browns convoluted tax schemes and obsessive micro managing. A simpler tax system would free up resources to pay for even more doctors and nurses and your final statement just sums up Labours nanny knows best attitude.

Thanks for reminding us why we're Conservatives.

"A leftie coming on here to comment amuses me even more Cornstock."

It's COMstock, but anyway, glad I serve some useful function :D

Being called a 'leftie' amuses me still further, considering I'm proberbly to the right of the Labour party of 20 years ago

"Thanks for reminding us why we're Conservatives"

You're welcome, indeed thank *you* for reminding me why the present shower at number 10 (who I don't much like at all) are the lesser of two evils.

Still got nothing constructive to say COMstock?What a suprise!I'm delighted we amuse you,why don't you try to amuse us?Post something funny.

Breaking News in the Times :

Computer care records 'years late'

Plans to introduce an electronic medical record for every NHS patient in England are at least two-and-a-half years behind schedule, a government minister said. Health minister Lord Warner, who is overseeing the Government's health service IT programme, also admitted that the full cost of the programme was likely to be nearer £20bn than the widely quoted figure of £6.2bn. He told the Financial Times that some parts of the programme "are going pretty well and pretty much to time", but added that others "are going more slowly than we would otherwise like"."

Three years late and three times over budget... another rip-roaring success in government IT.

Today's Telegraph (on the front page and its leader column) highlights what it calls "The Whitehall Farce".
I am not sure whether we have already noted that "The amount of taxpayers' money wasted through public sector fraud and mismanagement, including pension payments to the deceased and benefit handouts to failed asylum seekers, has shot up 33% in two years".
The DT also reveals that the man appointed by the PM to sort out the malfunctioning CSA is being paid £900 a day, although when it phoned the department's public inquiries office, the caller was greeted by a recorded message saying the office was "closed due to staff shortages". A spokesman explained that because of a combination of annual leave and "privilege days" there was no one to run it.
The fact is the civil service is now so demoralised by this government that no department is functioning properly.
Perhaps the tories should enquire about "privilege days" and how the standard terms and conditions for civil servants compare with those in the private sector.

Jeff Randall in today's Telegraph has a neat comment on Gordon Brown's sale of part of the UK's gold reserves in an article on the 10 worst financial decisions taken in Britain since 1980:

Brown's Reverse Alchemy: only a moron in a hurry offloads half his assets at the bottom of the market. So no cigar for Gordon Brown who dumped 50% of Britain's gold reserves in 1998-2002 at $280 an ounce. As Britain was selling, China bought. Gold's surge to $700 means Brown has cost taxpayers £2bn-plus.

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