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The future of Government (if any)

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Alan H
Posts: 22267
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#3181 Postby Alan H » December 26th, 2017, 11:50 am

Latest post of the previous page:

So, is Davis a liar or merely incompetent and unfit for Government? But then again, if you go for incompetent, you have to ask why his boss hasn't ensured she understood the impact of Brexit.
Brexit studies were 'being prepared' a year before Davis said they didn't exist
David Davis’s department said last year that it was preparing “an assessment of the impact of exit on over fifty sectors of the economy”, undermining his recent claim that the Brexit impact studies do not exist.

The comment was made in a Freedom of Information response from November 2016, suggesting that work was underway on the documents more than a year before the government backtracked on acknowledging their existence.

In addition, the Guardian has found at least 12 references in Hansard, the official record of parliament, to ministers talking about the work to “assess the impact” or “assess the economic impact” of Brexit over the last year.

The findings are likely to fuel suspicions that the Department for Exiting the European Union does have documentary evidence of the impact of Brexit on the economy.

Parliament asked for 58 impact assessments to be handed over to the select committee on exiting the EU last month, so they could examine how Brexit would affect different sectors.

But MPs who were allowed to view the 800-pages of documents ridiculed the analyses for simply setting out the current situation for businesses, explaining how the EU operates and then providing a section on what stakeholders think.

Davis and other ministers claimed they had never said any “impact assessments” existed, and the committee, which is dominated by Conservatives, ruled that he was not in contempt of parliament for failing to release such documents.

However, campaigners believe the government does still hold relevant information setting out the official view of how Brexit could affect the economy and businesses.

A judicial review has been launched by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, and the Good Law Project, led by Jolyon Maugham, to try to force the government to reveal any analysis of the impact of Brexit but it is not certain this can be completed in time.

Launching the review, Scott Cato said: “There are two possibilities. Either the studies do exist, and Davis has lied to the House and must resign. Or the studies do not exist, in which case Davis is guilty of dereliction of duty and must resign. Either way, he cannot maintain the confidence of the House as our Brexit negotiator.”

Asked about the repeated use of the words “impact” and “assess” to describe the documents, the government has changed tack to claim that the documents released to the House of Commons do in fact analyse the impact of leaving the EU.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union pointed to recent comments in the House of Commons by Robin Walker, who denies the existence of impact assessments, but said: “The information that has been shared with the select committee and is available to all members of this House in the reading room includes assessments of the impact on the regulatory matters and of the importance of EU trade to different sectors.”
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22267
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#3182 Postby Alan H » January 9th, 2018, 2:15 pm

Well, that didn't last long: Backlash over ‘offensive’ tweets causes UK journalist to resign from education board
Controversial journalist Toby Young stepped down from his role on the board of English university regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), after criticism of comments on Twitter and in columns that included repeated references to women’s breasts and comments about disabled people.

The OfS chair described the remarks as “offensive” (The Guardian) and a petition calling for his sacking has been signed by more than 200,000 people.

On stepping down on Tuesday, Young wrote (The Spectator, may be behind paywall) that his appointment had become a “distraction” from the work of the board. Young, a columnist and co-founder of the West London Free School, apologized and said the comments under fire were “ill-judged or just plain wrong.”


Then there's the farce over Greening: Theresa May's reshuffle in disarray as Justine Greening quits
Theresa May’s new year reshuffle was thrown off course when senior members of the cabinet refused to move and Justine Greening quit the government after turning down a job as work and pensions secretary.


But the award for the Tory farce of the day must go to CCHQ: Conservative Party Cabinet reshuffle farce as Chris Grayling is wrongly named Tory party chairman instead of Brandon Lewis
With a headline “Congratulations Chris Grayling” and the hashtag #reshuffle, the tweet from the @Conservatives account appeared to be a gold-plated premature leak of Mrs May’s changes. But it was taken down within 30 seconds and red-faced party officials admitted it was simply wrong.

An hour later, Mr Lewis emerged in Downing Street to be the first minister to process up to the famous front door, making clear that he and not Mr Grayling was getting the job.


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The Tories' gaffe was recorded in Wikipedia, sadly now reverted and replaced with something more anodyne:

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Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22267
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#3183 Postby Alan H » January 15th, 2018, 8:28 pm

Carillion bosses face inquiry after protecting ‘exorbitant’ £4m bonuses ahead of collapse
Carillion bosses face an investigation into a “shameful” bid to protect their bonuses before the firm went bust, with the company’s collapse now threatening to turn into a major corporate scandal.

The Government warned directors of the firm which handled hundreds of public contracts, that they would be hit with “severe penalties” if found guilty of misconduct in securing some £4m in hand-outs last year.

The bonuses were branded “exorbitant” in the Commons, one former cabinet minister likened the situation to a “British Enron”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the collapse is a “watershed moment” for privatisation.

As the fallout spread, ministers were adamant fault lay squarely with the firm’s management and said taxpayers would avoid significant extra costs, despite stepping in to ensure Carillion-provided public services continued.

But a slew of inquiries are now expected to pick through not only Carillion’s downfall, but the actions of ministers who handed the firm 450 contracts in recent years.

After Carillion failed having racked up debts and liabilities worth £1.5bn, MPs heard how bosses tweaked rules in the firm’s 2016 annual report to make it harder for investors to claw-back bonuses if the company hit trouble.

Previously the firm had the right to reduce bonuses not yet paid, but after the 2016 report so-called “clawback” provisions could only be applied if financial results "have been misstated" or "the participant is guilty of gross misconduct".
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22267
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The future of Government (if any)

#3184 Postby Alan H » January 15th, 2018, 10:55 pm

Why Carillion has gone into liquidation rather than administration
Contrary to popular — and populist — opinion, outsourcing is a messy business with little margin for profit. Or for error. Serco boss Rupert Soames has a lavatory brush on his desk to remind himself not to bid for work below the average cleaner’s 5-6 per cent margin. He calls it his “Shitometer”. But if former Carillion boss Richard Howson had something similar on his desk, he ignored its proximity to the fan.

Today, the former hit the latter — and Carillion entered liquidation.

But among the many questions this outcome raises, the most pertinent is: why liquidation rather than administration?

Administration allows a company to continue to operate, as the administrators attempt to find a buyer for viable parts of the business. Liquidation means a company ceases trading, and the liquidator merely tries to realise any remaining assets and distribute them to creditors.

Carillion’s “compulsory liquidation” proves it had already reached a point where there was nothing worth buying. All it had was its contracts, on which the margins were evidently too low to cover its ever growing liabilities. There was no viable business to sell. There were no meaningful assets.

As one industry rival hinted last week, this absence of assets is not as surprising as it may seem. “All we really do is pre-sell labour and make bets on the long term costs,” he told the FT. And, even if Carillion’s contracts could be thought of as assets, they were too complex or insufficiently valuable for its banks to lend against. They were never going to advance another £300m against low-margin government-linked assets over which they had no control.

Administration may be an option in support-services outsourcing, such as cleaning, where contracts can easily be sold on to a new provider. Carillion managed to offload its hospital facilities work to Serco, for example. But outsourced construction projects, bid for in consortia and involving layers of subcontractors, are too difficult and unprofitable for administrators to unpick.

This begs a second pertinent question: why did Carillion keep bidding for such low-margin work? Why did it not stop bidding years ago, writedown bad contracts and attempt to restructure when its market value was nearer £2bn than £61m? Serco managed to do so. Even Balfour Beatty.

It was evidently because Carillion needed new contracts to keep bringing in the cash it needed pay suppliers and lenders. Adding more construction work, such as the HS2 rail line, was the only way to keep cash coming through the door. It had, in effect, become a lawful sort of Ponzi scheme — using new or expected revenues to cover more pressing demands for payment.

A further similarity with such schemes was the incentive for senior managers to keep bidding, acquiring and chasing cash. Many in the industry are paid bonuses based on revenue growth, not efficiency. Mr Howson assured the City last May that Carillion had made “an encouraging start to the year”, with “increased revenue visibility”. He then resigned after July’s profits warning, having gained £1.5m in pay and bonuses for 2016.

Like all dubious revenue models, however, Carillion’s strategy was ultimately unsustainable. Some hedge funds wondered why Carillion was taking 120 days to pay subcontractors back in 2013 and began short selling its shares to profit from future falls. But it is typically only when key staff leave, and suppliers lose faith, that the strain of trying to transact £10m a day becomes more widely recognised.

Could Carillion have avoided liquidation if it had stopped bidding?

Serco turned itself around after avoiding unprofitable work, and asking shareholders to bear the pain. But with Carillion so desperate for cash, it was clearly willing to bid at any margin.

So the final question is: why did the government allow it to win bids on disastrous terms?

A week after its first profit warning, Carillion, with joint venture partners, secured £1.4bn-worth of work on HS2. It later won half of a £158m contract from the Ministry of Defence and a £62m contract with Network Rail.

Under procurement rules, the government is required to exclude any outsourcer whose bid is “abnormally low”. As one lawyer claims, though: “Carillion has tendered at very low margins, possibly unsustainably low, in order to win these huge volumes of work. If such bids have succeeded, that can only mean either that the regulations themselves are ineffective or that public sector clients lack the confidence or the expertise properly to enforce those rules.”

Evidently, the government does not see any complicity in the Ponzi-like running of Carillion. David Lidington, Cabinet Office minister, made it clear where he saw the irresponsibility lying: “We will continue to maintain partnerships with responsible firms in future,” he said, pointedly.

But, after allowing Carillion to win so many irresponsibly low-margin contracts in the past, giving it that HS2 deal was not a rescue — just a fast track to collapse.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?


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