Isn’t it amazing how there are always apologists for wankers, bankers and mandarins?
Jeremy *unt popped up two days ago to say that it was jolly fine, normal and acceptable for private sector suppliers to screw up when providing services to the public sector. I’d love to monitor the circuitous path from assertion via bent logic to illogical pronouncement that goes on in Jeremy’s unwisely privileged cerebrum. No doubt he would have a different interpretation of the PFI cockups in the nhs that led his bete noir Gordon Brown to fraudulently move them off balance-sheet as a UXB for Camerlot to pick up. But on the other hand, given he f**ked up royally in his first job for the British Council (and then mysteriously went on to make a fortune by becoming a long-term monopoly supplier to the BC quangocrats) you can see why he would reach such a self-exonerating conclusion. When all’s said and done, we serial onanists must stick together.
Jeremy Typinge-Errah was joined in this regard today by Invesco Perpetual’s Neil Woodford, who opined that Buckles of the G4S should not lose his job because, “It is my view that the interest of shareholders are best served by keeping Nick Buckles in this business because his track record is excellent”. Which is of course a right load of old bollocks, because as The Slog posted at the weekend, last year’s attempted takeover by G4S of Danish cleaning giant ISS saddled the shareholders with a bill for over £50m in fees for legal and financial advice.
But clues are available as to why Woodford might lean in such a direction: he holds G4S in his £11.3m High Income and £8.7m Income funds, and therefore is understandably reluctant to rubbish his own tips.
Equally mystifying at first sight is why various business journalists, politicians and senior business figures seem endlessly willing to stand up for bankers. One such over the years has been David Buik, who looks uncannily like a Muppet. Described by Ian Fraser in 2011 as ‘the “Sir Bufton Tufton” of the City: old-fashioned, bigoted and 100% out-of-touch with modern realities’, Buik has always struck me as the kind of arrogant prick who never fails to find an acceptable (to him) reason why bankers have done something despicable. Following the bonus controversy of January 2011, Buik advised non-bankery mortals, “Folks, get over it! Let’s move on!”
Buik is in the same Libor related broking business as Michaels Spencer and Fallon, so as you can imagine he almost certainly knew nothing at all about the crooked global fixes that went on between 2005 and 2010. But in 2011, he opined that the nasties were down to “a few reckless bankers. Banks were easy prey for the politicians to blame and they remain so…[but] contrary to public opinion, the ‘bad guys’ have gone.”
David Buik is the Mohammed Bari of investment banking. What a pillock.
But as time (and the 2012 Olympics revelations of omniphonic incompetence) keep passing, I have reached the opinion that no feather-bedded social group is more universally defended by the political classes than your Whitehall mandarin.
Allow me if I may to put the derisory decision-making of Locog Sir Humphreys into some kind of recent historical context. Starting with the Sykes-Picquot ballsup of 1926, and meandering solemnly through the BEF, Dunkirk, the groundnuts scheme of 1947, Blue Steel rockets, Concorde, new tiers in the nhs, green giant fire engines, Westland, mothballed helicopters, aircraft carriers with no fuel to sail and planes that couldn’t land on them, disappearing mobile phones in the Gulf War, under-specced jeeps that caused friendly fire deaths during the Iraq war, Connecting for Health, the PFI fiasco, self-awarded illegal pension benefits, the RBS nationalisation, the HBOS/Lloyds merger, the trebled Olympics budget, and umpteen other examples of self-serving amateurish waste, we arrive at last at the latest in a long series of expensive disasters: the ten-times-over-budget G4S choice as a Games security operator – a supplier which will, we now learn, suffer no financial penalties….because no performance criteria were set. And we can add to this the hopelessly understimated clogging of roads full of coaches that seem unable – after seven years of preparation – to navigate their way from Heathrow Airport to the Olympic Village….which is not, as yet, ready to receive these first bemused athletes.
Although these wasters acount for fully one third of Britain’s national debt liabilities, they have shown for 86 years that they cannot manage, control, scope out, understand, legally bind, specify, design, choose, negotiate, cost, judge, foresee, commercially assess, monitor, critique, contract, organise, discipline, trace, or quite simply do anything without it turning into at best a write-off, and at worst a catastrophe requiring the rest of us to Keep Calm and Carry On.
Military equipment, prescription drugs, security, banking regulation, public buildings and motorways all turn to dust via ill-conceived planning in their hands. And yet there they are, the best-paid and most luxuriously pensioned plonkers on Earth….somehow immune from criticism.
But it isn’t that hard to work out why. Blackmail is an ugly word, but it was never more apt a term than when describing the cunning uselessness of our senior civil servants. Quite simply, Whitehall gets everything it wants, because it knows where every last body in Westminster in buried. Every single act of political treason, fraud, bigotry, fallibility, sexual oddity, and embezzlement is known to every Mandarin – thanks to the good offices of the security services in their midst, who will always give the Sir H’s the ammunition they need, in return for intense – nay, irresistible – lobbying for more money, surveillance equipment, draconian laws and operatives next year than they had last year.
It’s why not even the Mad Handbag could cut down their numbers. It’s why Draper Osborne has tried and failed to get the MoD to fire some of their own number. And it’s why Andrew Lansley has been forced to accept that every last hopeless nhs bureaucrat will have to be re-employed once his disastrous health reforms are done.
No Establishment politician with ‘a record’ will ever be able to rein in and fire these leeches. Only a fresh new generation of radicals with no form to speak of will be able to see them off. But I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that day.