Protests Against Quango Cuts - Simon Jenkins Article

Well - they say a broken clock is right twice a day, and to prove this rule Simon Jenkins has written a piece in the Guardian which ( beyond a misguded snipe at Trident's funding ) is a pithy and well-written description of the dramas we are beginning to see play out in the media in defence of cuts.


When the ship sinks, the elite grab all the lifeboats
Gilded professionals mobilise friends in the media to lobby against cuts – if only the poor could do the same
When the ship sinks, the elite grab all the lifeboats | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | The Guardian

Did you know? The chancellor, George Osborne, is a closet pacifist who would be happy to see the Taliban in charge of his Tatton constituency. The home secretary, Teresa May, is soft on paedophiles and comfortable with child molesters. The justice secretary, Ken Clarke, delights in setting raving criminals free. As for the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, when he hears the word art, he reaches for his axe.

Welcome to the crazy, hyperbolic world of cuts lobbying. It says the government must reduce public spending – in general – but not in particular, and certainly not my particular. Cut the other guy, the one who can't shout; but cut me, and civilisation as we know it is at an end. It will be all the government's fault.

Quangos are like babies: most people are against them until they have one of their own. Then they go all gooey. They gloat over them as they grow limbs and remark to the world how delightfully they smile when fed. Like children, quangos must be defended with our lives against all known predators.

From aircraft carriers to art galleries, from school buildings to police quality control, from medical research to counter-terrorism, there is no public sector activity that is not some mother's son. Every quango has a board to support, a staff, an office block and an ever-widening family of dependent NGOs, regulators, consultants, conference venues and press facilities. What does Osborne expect to come of them all? Must they starve?


Personally, I agree that many of the activities of these organisations are laudable, and I don't take any pleasure in anyone losing their job. And you'd expect each to vigorously defend their corner. But the hyperbolic defence mounted by their patrons ( who have a good deal of money, work and comfort to fall back on ) are pretty pathetic and, rightly as Jenkins points out, crowd out the media when far greater but cuts affecting far poorer and less media friendly people should be fully debated.

Britain wasn't a vicously dog-eat-dog state or a cultural wasteland before 1945, and neither was it in 1997. Returning spending levels to then will not return us to the Dark Ages. But every pound spent on worthwhile luxuries is one less spent on easing the blow to the livelihoods of the non-elite, most of whom's happiness is far more dependent upon broad foundations of society and the economy than subsidised art or rareified regulation.



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The point of the article seems to be about who can shout loudest to protect their fiefdom. Surely it has always been thus, but in the days of yore the shouts were made, not in the media, but quietly in some gentleman's club in or about Whitehall. The only difference now is the method of delivery of these acts of defence.

Plus ça change.........
Hmm. I always wondered if we have all these quangos for quality control, policy and regulation... what do Government departments ACTUALLY do?

Great reference as to how money can be saved published before the election (and strangely making it's way into public policy)..:

How to Cut Public Spending: and Still Win an Election: Matthew Sinclair, TaxPayers' Alliance: Books

I'm sure some babies will be thrown out with the bath water but viva la bonfire of the quangoes.....
Once upon a time Government Departments employed their own inspection and regulatory staff.
Then, various people started saying "All these Civil Servants. Don't they get under your feet. Far too many of them. Etc. Etc."
It became politically astute to reduce the number of 'Core' Civil Servants.Governments would trumpet how many Civil Servants they had got shot of.

Government still had various statutory responsibilities to fulfill, or it would get done over in the Courts. So, the wonderful concept of the 'Arms Length Body', the 'Executive Agency' and so on was invented.These were supposed to be the 'Inspection' functions peeled off from their parent Departments, beefed up, and let loose on the public. Civil servants were 'rebadged' and vanished from the employment stats, (But not the Public Sector payroll).

In reality, after a few years, what might be termed the 'Earthworm Effect' takes over. The 'Tail' may have been cut off the Departments, but the the 'Tails' rapidly grew new 'heads'. The Agencies and ALBs suddenly started acquiring vast bloated HQ elements, HR, Policy teams, IT support functions and all the other useless baggage that the core Departments used to provide for them.
Finally, in a sort of Zen paradox, you have two policy making bodies, which don't talk to each other,both working on the same policy area, but NEITHER of which can do effective inspection work, as the field offices have all been starved of resources to the point of collapse!

In this 'ideal world' the Government Departments should confine themselves to trying to write legislation that doesn't fall apart in the Courts, and coming up with policies to keep their Ministers happy (and out of the Courts). Meanwhile the Agencies go about like little happy robots inspecting and regulating, and not bothering their heads about arcane legal and political matters.

The only problem with this delivery model is that it is complete bollocks.

What you actually get is 'Ivory Tower' policy makers asking the impossible of their field officers, because they simply don't understand what the job is. You also get baffled and resentful delivery bodies who cheerfully fiddle the performance stats to keep the Ministers happy in the certain knowledge that neither Minister nor Departmental Civil Servant will ever realise that the whole thing is out of their control.
Hey thats a great explanation thanks! And it definitely reinforce my views on quangoes... now where do i stoke that bonfire!!!
Guardian..............Simon Jenkins.

For a minute there I thought this was the NAAFI Bar?

Can anyone explain how we have one Quango telling us at great expense to eat more spuds, the Potato Marketing Board, while other equally expensive Quango's spend their time telling us spuds are bad for us?
QUANGO's are the modern day equivalent of robber barons, they exist only to serve and enrich themselves at the expense of us poor mugs who have to shovel our hard earned taxes into their insatiable maws.

Not only should we have a bonfire of the quango's but in many cases where it can be proved that they were created as a means of political patronage and a means of undermining democratic accountability, the individuals concerned should have their assets seized and returned to the taxpayer. These organisations are just legalised corruption.

The equalities and human rights commision would be an ideal starting point.

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