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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.

Government

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.

Competence

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.

Fashion and Spin

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.

Leadership 

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.

You cannot train to be a generic leader because today's leader is tomorrows follower depending on what the job is that needs doing. However in an unhealthy society like ours people actually make it their personal objective to lead simply for its own sake.

There are courses in leadership as if it was an isolated discipline, as if the captain of a ship needed the same skills as the head of an art department. Well "hello sailor" it just doesn't work like that!

Right now many of our politicians, who are political studies graduates, and have no experience of leadership in any economically productive activity, are now "leading us" into a state of social decay that it may be hard to recover from. They are focusing only on those issues they think they can spin a story out of that will win votes while avoiding the important issues that make this nation function.

China, I am told, hand has a great many engineers in its leadership.

Regulation and Freedom  

Regulation is needed, but only to the extent that it works and that is where feedback comes in. I don't mean multiple choice questionnaires or tests and measurements, I mean actually listening to what people have to say and having the capability to weigh it up and do the right thing based on the experience of having run an organisation before.

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.

Regulation and Freedom 

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.

Learning and Application

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.

Best Practice

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.

Feedback

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.

Localisation and Globalisation

It seems that while the government of the UK wants not to be governed by Europe it still wants to govern every aspect of the lives of us, its citizens. Is it not the case that the issue is that governing bodies should endeavour to govern as little as possible leaving issues to be handled as locally as possible. So Europe should only concern its self with issues that are not being dealt with on a national level, and national governments should only concern them selves with issues that are not being dealt with on a district level and so on down to the individual.

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.

On a More Positive Note

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.

What is still to do

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.

Energy

There is no future without energy. Unplugging your mobile phone charger and banning 100 Watt light bulbs leads to a tiny energy saving in comparison to that that could be achieved by reducing the weight of cars and trains. Transport being responsible for half the energy consumption of most families.

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.

Transport

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.

Defence or Offence

Privatising Defence 

Defence involves making weapons and if you maWhy doesn't ke weapons and you are a business, you want to sell more weapons. To sell more weapons you need more conflicts.

The Men on the Ground

Lets make no bones about it some of the best people I have met were soldiers but just like the teachers and the doctors, the government doesn't listen to them.

The Biggest Bomb

Despite soldiers on the ground asking for guns that don't jam and boots that don't melt in the heat, our government still feels, without doing any proper research, that Trident, our nuclear weapon system, provides us with the ultimate defence. Of course its not actually defence at all its simply counter-offence. In other words if some foreign government decides to do something we don't like then we will kill a lot of innocent people and destroy a lot of infrastructure in the country they happen to be in charge of. Naturally the people, that is you and me, are supposed to accept that we are to be used as the chips in this very destructive game. Of course the alternative might be to use precision weapons to kill the foreign government. Even ignoring any morel issues there are a lot better ways to proceed then mass destruction but they are harder to understand.   

The Provocateurs

These is a lot of grumbling about Isis but of course it is conveniently forgotten that actually the "Arab Spring" so elegantly stage managed by the west in order to try to gain control of the middle east and in so doing its oil reserves, involved the orchestrated tearing down of institutions which served to stabilise the Middle East. The extremist people we financed and supported yesterday against as "freedom fighters" are now exercising their freedom to turn their extremism against us and so we now call them "terrorists" and further set out to cure the problem by bombing their countries doing even more damage to the infrastructure on which ordinary people depend.

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.    

People

Healthcare

Healthcare hospitals are one of the main targets of government as most staff are dedicated and are very aware of the suffering caused to patents when they are not available. Sadly though the constant and relentless pressure of government for hospitals to work on less and less has lead to a growing cynicism as staff struggle to maintain their sanity while watching patients suffer the consequences.

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;
  • To much being spent on GPs in the belief that a large amount of the work done by hospitals can be done in GP surgeries.
  • To much being spent on hospital managers who know little about medicine and frequently cost 8 times the price of a nurse while a dire shortage of nurses leads to oversights and mistakes.
  • The Heath service IT system was a clear demonstration that lack of any IT knowledge in the top level lead to a failure to understand what was the right price for such a system and an inability to see the failure of the contractor to deliver early on.

Other system failures include;

  • The lack of an oversight reporting system as used in aircraft maintenance and other safety critical systems.
  • Doctors and other staff, despite being part of a safety critical system, are expected to work hours that simply would not be accepted as safe for lorry drivers or airline pilots.
  • Managers attempting to enforce time targets by telling doctors how to treat patents.
  • GPs are expected to spend 12 minutes per patient deal with the health problem but are also expected to always ask them about work and home life even where the medical problem may bare no relation to these things.
  • The GMC whose job it is to assure the standard of foreign doctors wishing to practice in this country, has been turned into a profitable enterprise milking hopefuls through exam fees and training fees. Many of the exams contain questions that bare no relationship to the actual practice of medicine. Indeed changes in EU rules at one point, simply consigned a whole bunch of requirement to the dustbin.     
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.

Education 

The teachers are tired, not of the national curriculum but the rigid enforcement of it in a one size fits all strategy across the country leading to a lack of diversity in education i.e. "you can have any colour as long as its black". You can have any education as long as its the national curriculum.

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

Housing 

Actually there was a reason for having the banks and building societies separate. Borrowing has gone mad.

Unemployment 

Its bad enough being unemployed without being harassed to get a job that isn't there.

Loss of Democracy  

I raise two issues here that are very different. There are more.

Party Whips

Whips are MPs or Lords appointed by each party in Parliament to help organise their party's contribution to parliamentary business. One of their responsibilities is making sure the maximum number of their party members vote, and vote the way their party wants.

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.

Right of Charge and Trial according to law.

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.

Immigration

People come and people go but one reason they stay is because it was so much trouble to get here.



Emigration immigration or just  migration



Industry

Innovation
Manufacturing


Police

Another display of government foolishness was the setting of arrest targets for police officers.

The Legal System

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. 

Science

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.


Class