Tuesday, November 27, 2007

20th Century Brown

When assessing his generals, Napoleon always asked “Is he lucky?”

Spectre “The goal of the organization is world domination. “

I hardly like to be so predictable as to launch into the many reasons why Brown is failing .From dark Courtier to Keystone Kop in a couple of months , I am enjoying the slapstick no end and as temptation has no other purpose off we go..

. I disagree with the various apologists, mad Hattersly for one, who have airily waived at the prevailing breeze and muttered, ‘ events dear boy, events “.
There is clearly the possibility that a Prime minister may be unfortunate but in the case of Mr. brown his share of luck over an inglorious career would satisfy Napoleon`s requirement more than somewhat. He was the inheritor of Thatcher’s reforms and Major`s judicious management already five years into the fifteen year period of growth. The plans for the centralisation of the Bank of England hanging behind the door when he moved in . Politically impossible for Major they were a hidey hole Brown jumped into. People forget the deep distrust the public had of Labour with the economy. He was saying , “ Look I won’t even touch it , I`ll tie my hands behind my back !.”Hardly a Brownite Policy.
With the explosion of the low tax new sector globally , he would have had been hard to out to play the hand badly and he had the even greater good fortune on not being there for black Wednesday which his Party would have hurled us into with far greater enthusiasm than the Conservatives. They were split over Europe and only beginning the long march from Business interest approval of the EU to nationalist loathing of it in a global economy .

Oh lucky man ! Now every paving stone hides a banana skin every hand a custard pie . It is not coincidence though it is because he is wrong and the good fortune of his early has allowed him to wallow in misconception. The good ship error has been on a wave or globally clement conditions and borrowing and this buoyancy has disguised the iceberg sticking out of its hull; . He believes the Big State project can work. He is a man of the Moon shot , or Concorde and all the rest of a grandiose impressive abut really pointless false starts of the 20th century . He is a 20th century boy .
Tax credits , his personal clown school , are typical. It was based on a US model which assumed familiarity with the tax system art low levels as Americans have . It also imagined that when you hand brake turn the civil service that there will not be squeaks . The dislocation directly lead to the multiple cock ups of disc gate and even more so to the billions lost in fraud and mistakes .This policy has not worked just as its recipients have not worked .

Enter one Sir David Varney , former O2 boss and “ adviser on public service transformation”. Previously he resigned over the intergalactic farrago of the tax credits but now overseeing a shift to a direct relationship between the state and the citizen. For this to happen he will need a new level of data , a centralised data base on which will be a “single source of truth “( shudder). Sir David wants a “ Joined up identity management as the foundation of service transformation”. This data we learn will be available to 26 countries and from NHS to Credits every computer based upgrade has been a disaster but still the order will be given. Gosh I feel good about that .....

Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,

Anyone who has ever been in the Commercial world knows what you are trying to ‘avoid’ is computers and what you are desperate for are people. No doubt there are savings to be made but it is folly to get away from the organisation of the most important bit , the people .David Cameron is trying to articulate a devolved country in which power is given to communities and small units . Privatisation of the NHS , dropped by Brown was a start . The Academies, dropped by Brown , were a start . Community schools will be a start. A country of myriad interrelated localisms and interactive units is a vision. This strikes me as 21st century thinking and ( details to follow ) the right instinct.
If I could summon one image to describe the difference it would be the history of the Computer. It was only when IBM`s encryption was cracked that the possibilities began to self replicate and the revolution of the PC began. Look back to the conceptions of Hal and the villain’s lair in Bond . The ranks of White washing machine sized differenc –engines were an attempt to make a billion-dollar Brain. The future lay in small units connecting up in unforeseen ways and that is our future. Not the stasis of Egypt, but the competitive cauldron of Classical Greece in which loosely allied city states vied for the best thoughts the greatest vision and in doing so made for us the world of today.
Are we to be new Greeks or Slaves abasing ourselves before the Great Pyramid of Brow`s huge and pointy headed state.? ....
That judgement I leave to you..( as good old Bill Deedes used to say)


Ed said...

Quite right. Just as if the answer is "more politicians" then you are asking the wrong question, if the answer is "a central database" then it's time to try a different tack.

This "single point of truth" is quite worrying: what happens if one byte of data is wrong on your profile? Let's say it thinks you earn 100,000 not 10,000?

Newmania said...

Its the whole attitude to government that lies behind the attempt that I think is utterly wrong Ed... what next?

Ed said...

I think Brown will find it hard to get any Big Idea policies through now and that he will struggle on until May 2010, by which time Cameron will have established a strong lead.

Cameron needs to do more than be not-Gordon though. He needs to set out how to fix the underlying problems of big centralised government.

Newmania said...

Inthink/hope , he is trying to do that Ed and we should not imagine that it is easy. JNor shouod it , in my view , be a sudden lurch i prefer a slow evoltuion of policy and direction....but then I would

hatfield girl said...

David Davis' remarks about the Stork project where unnerving. Trying out prototypes in the UK, for later roll out to the entire EU, on data holding, encryption and the applications of data bases to government and planning undertakings is essentially big state.
I shall be reading Spyblog as well as you N, with even higher levels of concern (and doubtless technical incomprehension) than usual.
The incomprehension isn't helped, if you look the Stork programme up, by the project sharing a name with another on UFOs, and one on the kind that bring babies and their natural habitats.
Though it's a serendipitous read.

Little Black Sambo said...

Great writing, Newmania, as on many other subjects. I hope you are keeping it all for a future Collection.

Newmania said...

Soy blog , thats oudnsgood HG . ]#
Thanlks LBS, don`t have lot of time at the mo but still

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