Here are a few notes about what appears not to be working in this country and what needs to be done in so far as I can see it.
Naturally given that running this country is something that I really don't have much time to spend on, and in view of the fact that I have paid others to do it for me, the only reason for spending a few hours writing this is to try to give them some nudges in the right direction based on what people around me are telling me about what happens in their homes and work places. Pointers at the issues which seem to be obvious to many people on the ground that have the time or the inclination to look yet they will lose their jobs if they stand up and say what they are thinking. I already risk excluding myself from receipt of grants for the work I do based on my direct and open criticism of government. But I have always said "Criticism is an opportunity for improvement. Praise simply inflates the ego." And so it is, and no such opportunity should be thrown away to lightly.
When cannot help but feel that Hans Christian Anderson's story, the Emperor’s new clothes is an appropriate warning. Read on dear reader and understand why.
While government spends a great deal of time talking about the competence of the population of Britain and measuring and assessing it in various ways, some effective some not, it seems that it rarely bothers to look at its own competence. Putting people in charge of some of the main issues like health care and education who have no experience in the fields they are responsible for. These individuals then impose their bright ideas onto the people at the coal face of health care, education and defence etc. who then spend time trying to make it look as if its working in fear of losing their jobs. This is a marked demonstration of government incompetence.
At a recent meeting I attended one of the topics was disillusionment with the government but this raises an interesting point which is that government has its so called "spin doctors" whose specific job is to maintain the illusion. This has become a propaganda exercise.
We are being told that the big issue for the next election will be immigration just as we are told what will be next years fashion colours. These are not predictions of choices made by consumers, these are decisions made for consumers by government or industry. Why does the government hope to make immigration the focus of the next election? Perhaps because if they can spin that into the centre position of the peoples minds they will not wake up to the real issues like energy, that the government has no understanding of.
Immigration is just one aspect of nationalism a form of discrimination based on nationality. To put it in terms of fashion, "Nationalism is simply the new racism".
Of course immigration is not the cause of our problems today any more then emigration is or migration in general. People should have a right to move freely across the face of the earth and although we may not have reached the point where we feel that is possible quite yet, it is something we need to work towards.
An extraordinary culture of pretence is beginning to dominate the social landscape like a competition to see which ostrich can bury its head deeper in the sand. Anyone found not pretending is demoted while the most creative promoters of positive fiction are given extraordinary salaries and promoted up.
No amount of spin will solve real problems in the real world. Churchill's sentence, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat," was a prime example of how the truth is better than spin.
Our government needs to tell the truth in detail and in summary so that those with the time and without it can have a clear picture as to what is going on. They must not promise things that they cannot deliver and truth and integrity must be the new backbone of political principles.
One problem is a fundamental misunderstanding about what leadership is. Sometimes to get things done you need leadership and sometimes to get things done you don't. This is simply a matter of fact and in a healthy society people tend to just naturally follow or lead the right people to get the job done.
China, I am told, hand has a great many engineers in its leadership.
Our government currently does not understand how to deliver quality because it simply measures what it feels like preferring not to listen.
As the situation has deteriorated the temptation is to over regulate when sometimes the removal of regulation is what is required. As the government imposes regulation it fails to appreciate some of the most basic principles of what rules are for.
The objective of rules is to implement disciplines that lead to improvements in the quality of work, and to counteract freedoms, that lead to work degradation.
BUT; the objective of rules is NOT to implement disciplines, that lead to degradation in the quality of work, and NOT to counteract freedoms, that lead to work improvement.
The balance between disciplines and freedoms is a delicate one and going too far in either direction can lead to problems in quality, efficiency and the pleasure in work that we all hope for.
The application of a rule should not require more effort than it saves in the long term, but the learning of a rules may take more effort than it saves in the short term. This is the investment in quality we have to make.
One of the particular excuses for regulation has been the idea of best practice being enforced through it. This is another misunderstood notion in that it is not possible for a career politician to know what is best practice in say education, health care or defence etc. and neither is it possible for them to employ consultants who know, since they are in no position to asses the ability of the consultants they employ, as the disastrous health service IT project of a few years ago evidences.
Best practice is not something to be imposed by government. Its what you get when people meet and share experiences when teachers, doctors, nurses and soldiers meet and share their experiences.
Many government people seem to have the attitude that they are uniquely positioned to control every aspect of the organisations they are responsible for in minute detail, yet they blatantly ignore the voices of those tied up in the regulations government creates to the point where delivery of the service or product suffers. Clear evidence of these failures is covered up in the spin culture created by these career politicians.
The failure to understand the basic principles of feedback, the failure to assess the impact of regulation i.e. see if its actually working and the desire to cover up failure rather than expose and correct it are not the culture of proper leadership yet are endemic in our government system. This has to change.
There is a huge formal structure in place for the creation and application of regulation of the people, yet there is no formal pathway for the people to report oversights in the regulation or to propose corrections, as would be expected in any effective quality system.
Part of the reason for not implementing proper feedback mechanisms is that it might highlight the unsuitability of our current leaders to actually lead. Of course there are exceptions but on the whole we haven't seen real leaders like Harold Wilson or Margaret Thatcher for along time. OK they got some serious stuff wrong, but they at least had some vision and insight. Probably the biggest Thatcher mistake was the idea that the free market was the solution to all ills. Only now we can see that its application in healthcare and defence has caused major issues while its lack of application in education has lead to a lack of diversity.
For any governing body there is an issue of scope which is not just about where it governs but what it should govern. So for example the suggestion by an MEP that they should force down trans-European mobile phone tariffs was totally out of scope. There is a free market in mobile phone providers and competition will do the job. Such an individual should not be in government.Much political effort is national governments shirking the responsibility that is in scope in order to pick up on the issues that can be spun to win votes, like immigration.
There examples of where our government has stood up and done the right thing. The push for open government and the putting of legal statutes on the internet.
In education the re-introduction of technical colleges as "university technical colleges" where pupils of age 14 years have the opportunity to develop basic technical skills.
Remove most career politicians who are exactly the kind of burden on society that we do not need. To do this they need to be voted out. i.e. refuse to vote for them and replace them with candidates that have some experience.
Change the system to allow diversity and encourage competition only where it helps. Remove moral hazards. Nationalise the defence industry or encourage its technical achievements to reach civilian markets.
Encourage more exciting technical challenges that place innovators into the lime light as has been done for example with the world land speed record. This means that innovators must be given the freedom and encouragement to work on projects rather than be held back by non adaptive school curriculums applying a one size fits all principle.
Stop degrading specific professions that involve more labour than thinking and start to value people for all their capabilities rather than only their academic capabilities. Put emphasis on the quality of work in every aspect of the culture getting things right from baking a pizza to designing an engine. Acknowledge and spread this culture from places where it already resides like Rolls Royce.
There is a rapidly approaching energy crisis that is being ignored. The oil companies reckon oil will have run out by 2050. Given that that isn't just fuel for cars but also is used to produce fertilisers that grow our food, unless we begin embracing real low energy consumption and developing real alternative energy sources there will certainly be poverty and possibly real hunger and real death at some point. Examination of thorium as a safe source of nuclear energy and other avenues are absolutely essential. An assessment of how well we have done so far is essential.
What happened to integrated transport, the idea of synchronising buses and trains etc. Actually using public transport is still a problem due to lack of in information and lack of coordination.
The question has to be how long can the tax payer continue to pay for the endless covert meddling in foreign affairs in this utterly incompetent manner. Sadly the organisations responsible have little accountability even within their own ranks, let alone to the people whose national interests they claim to support.
Some five years ago I was told by a receptionist in Maidstone eye hospital that it was proposed staff should work for one day per week for free in order to help hospital finances.
But it does not appear to be the lack of funds that is necessarily the problem but a misallocation of funds;
Other system failures include;
Ultimately the new generation of medical managers have become part of the "spin" culture that permeates government thinking. We are told to talk about "wellness" not "illness".
Doctors and nurses whose prime motive was to heal the sick, are being displaced or trained to accept the culture of speed and spin to cover up the consequential mistakes.
Cynics are saying that the covert objective of government policy is to create a public healthcare failure in order to end free healthcare, replacing it by a private system.
It is totally clear that parents want diversity in education from those parents who make exam results a priority to those who are more concerned about creativity.
Schools is one area where the free market could work i.e. letting parents choose and then expanding or closing schools depending on demand. This is effective and democratic.
The current culture with its obsession for Maths and English has wiped out a whole range of important subjects from the curriculum. New subjects like electronics barely even feature in schools today.
The huge amount of paperwork imposed on teachers to satisfy the governments attempts to measure the often unmeasurable has taken away the time that should be spent by teachers on developing material adapted to the children they are dealing with from Chatham an old navel port to the heart of Surrey.
Education is almost totally non-adaptive with its one size fits all approach where pupils areseperated by age rather than ability in each subject.
Education is plagued by government fashions from year to year. The latest is STEM Science Technology Engineering and Maths. It seams that British design, one of the jewels in the crown of the late 1980s is now non-existent. Another illustration of government is that the range of subjects given priority can be determined by the availability of an effective acronym! Another piece of spinology.
Of course we need STEM but to ignore everything else is a real issue.
More on Education
When an MP enters parliament their first duty should be to their constituents and their conscience. When there is a subject to vote on they should read up on it and make a decision on the appropriate way to vote. This is democracy, and the hope is that because all these people will have read up on the subject therefore their combined wisdom will lead to the correct outcome. But this is not what happens. Instead the whip goes around trying to harass each MP to vote in line with the rest of his/her party. This of course defeats the whole purpose of voting and erodes a key principle of democracy.
We like to think we are a democracy and we think we are because we have a party system where we can vote. In fact it takes a great deal more than voting to make a democracy. A thousand years ago
In 1215 Magna Carta required King John to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary—for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right that still exists under English law today. Magna Carta was the first document imposed upon a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights.
Today three parts of that charter remain in-force one of which is "Habaus Corpus" which essentially is the right not to be imprisoned without charge or trial. This rule is currently suspended in both the UK and the USA and as such means that we are currently not democracies.
It should not be ignored that this is a very serious matter.
The legal system is currently in a state of crisis due to a large surplus of lawyers trying to find work leading to earnings being a priority over justice for many of them. Of course there are good lawyers out there whose first concern is justice but the vast majority are clinical and exacerbate the conflicts of their clients so as to earn more money.
The result is seen particularly in family law where after the assistance of some courts families simply getting divorced end up with a total communication failure between the parents and levels of hatred that leave the children scared for life as the parents they love are encouraged to destroy each other.
The lack of science knowledge leads to the funding of projects based on popular concerns rather than real science i.e. the allocation of money to investigate whether mobile phones caused cancer.