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1 hour ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Daniel Hannan: Sweden ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Ex-MEP Dan Hannan is no more an expert on pandemics and how governments and health systems should deal with them than anyone else who is not a specialist trained in the field. He is cleverer than most of us but that does not make him qualified to pontificate on the subject. Please DH go back to analysing and writing on Brexit and how the country's trading system should be remodelled now that we have formally left the EU and will be out from under the transition period on 1 January 2021. On this, DH is worh reading because he has been a Brexit leader from the start and know the subject in and out.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Sunder Katwala: Gandhi... · 0 replies · +1 points

Gandhi never lived in the United Kingdom - except for a short time as a law student (?) . Many people from other countries have studied in Britain and later became leaders or prominent world figures, but they would not qualify to appear on a British banknote from their short residence here. Gandhi is on Indian banknotes as the writer says.

2 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Howard Flight: Parkins... · 1 reply · +1 points

Highways England administers the trunk road and motorway network in England. It was first an agency cut out of the Department of Transport (in 1994) and then made by legislation a company (100% government-owned) in 2015. None of its personnel are civil servants but it is a whole bureaucracy funded by the taxpayer.
Highways England (HE) keeps its numbers down (though not necessarily its number of senior managers) by outsourcing much of its functions to consulting engineers, including contracts and the person who holds the status of the Engineer in road contracts. There are more qualified engineers working for these consulting firms than there are working for HE. But all are doing work on or about roads for which the Secretary of State for Transport is ultimate owner, and about which he is answerable to Parliament.
A large staff is working for national government indirectly on the national road system in England but almost none would now be counted as civil servants.
The number of people working in reality for the government is rather greater than the 460,000 of civil servants, the number given in Howard Flight's article.

2 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Howard Flight: Parkins... · 0 replies · +1 points

Howard Flight writes, "Parkinson thought that membership exceeding around 20 makes a committee manifestly inefficient. Less certain is the optimal number of members which is somewhere between three and 20. For a group of 20, individual discussions may dilute the power of the leader. Common sense suggests eight may be the optimum number, but this is not supported by observations. No contemporary Government in Parkinson’s data set had eight members and only the unfortunate Charles 1st had a committee of State of that size."
The Swiss Cabinet has eight members and Switzerland is one of the world's best-governed countries. The Federal Council (as it is called) is composed of seven politicians with ministerial portfolios (usually more than one Department each) and the eighth is the Chancellor, who is a non-party appointment as the head of the civil service (the Cabinet Secretary role to us). The four main parties share the portfolios which means the party with the fewest seats in the lower house of the Swiss Parliament gets only one place, the other three two each. There is no Prime Minister or President of Switzerland; the post of President of the Federal Council (who also acts as Head of State) rotates annually.
It should be noted that some roles that one would expect to see held by a Minister in a national Cabinet are not performed at Federal level in Switzerland, notably education which is entirely a cantonal function.
It should be possible to learn from how the Swiss Government works and reduce the UK cabinet to 16-18 members.
Parkinson put the upper limit of an effective committee at 20; he was being generous.

2 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Alexander Woolf: My ec... · 0 replies · +1 points

In France the ordinary universities do not teach very well and they are crowded with too many students. The best students avoid them, and pursue really tough courses in the Grandes Ecoles which are where you need to graduate from if you aspire to the best posts in both public and private sectors. In the UK, we have the University of Buckingham, with some similarities, but nothing like the Grandes Ecoles. Perhaps we should set some up?

2 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Alexander Woolf: My ec... · 1 reply · +1 points

Because economics isn't actually a science, whereas physics, chemistry and medicine are?

3 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Kanwal Gill and Patric... · 0 replies · +1 points

The call for 'diversity' is contrary to the principles of meritocracy. Any thing like quotas or attempts at 'gender balance' have the effect of producing mediocracy instead of meritocracy. The decline in quality of many institutions of the country and the poor services that were once more efficient has gone along with choosing people by criteria other than pure merit.
The article by talking about 'communities' of people with certain characteristics shows up that diversity means the opposite of picking the best for roles or posts, and causes once-efficient outward-looking institutions of the country to become inward-focussed and being subjected to outside pressure that removes their right to determine their own direction and choice of staff.
Mediocre institutions and services are what we increasingly have.

3 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Hammond, Stuart, David... · 0 replies · +1 points

An opportunity missed to announce that no more Peerages will be given until the size of the House of Lords has been reduced to 350. It does not need to be larger than that to serve as the Second Chamber.
In the Japanese Parliament (the Diet) the 1947 constitution states that the House of Representatives will have 480 members, directly elected; and the House of Councillors will have 242 members, indirectly elected by local authorities around the country. (The Prime Minister must have the confidence of the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Emperor, but often does not have a majority in the House of Councillors.) These numbers remain unchanged, the 1947 constitution having served unaltered for over 70 years, The country has 126 million inhabitants, twice that of the UK. If Japan can manage with that number of parliamentarians in each House, so could we.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Carlaw resigns. Counte... · 0 replies · +1 points

Jackson Carlaw's leadership recalls that of Iain Gray's leadership of the Scottish Labour Party. He was unrecognised by the voters and had no public profile. At the time of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Edinburgh people being canvassed recognised Alastair Darling who was with him, but not Gray. Iain Gray is still an MSP, the Labour spokesman on education, but is still largely unknown.
The SNP had a not dissimilar experience when John Swinney was the Leader, and carried no weight. Only when Alex Salmond had him pushed out and took back the leadership did the SNP get into power in Holyrood, in 2007.
The Scottish Parliament appears to work on the basis of visible (and voluble) personalities as leaders, not those who would be the best able to govern effectively; such people exist there but are invisible to the media.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Alistair Lexden: On th... · 0 replies · +1 points

Great article by Lord Lexden - always worth reading on our political history of the 1900-1950 period.
When Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour in the Wartime Coalition, came to see troops readying themselves for the invasion in 1944 and the railway, road haulage and dock workers who were operating the supply chain for D-Day, it is recorded that soldiers said to him, 'When we have done this job for you, Ernie, are we going back on the dole?'.
Many soldiers in the invasion force had been unemployed a decade years earlier. The influence of Labour in the war-time Government and in planning for post-war meant that the lessons of what happened after demobilisation in 1918, when many ex-soldiers end up unemployed for some time, were learned. Whatever the effects of austerity after 1945, there wasn't unemployment. Bevin surely promised those soldiers waiting to cross to France that they would not go back on the dole after the war was won if Labour was in power. Voting Labour for the postwar Government was the result; and they did not go back on the dole.