What’s a Quango between friends?

Lot of stuff about ‘Quangos’ (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisations) from the Tories this week. They want to get rid of a lot of them, just like Tony Blair did. Just like Margaret Thatcher did. Now David Cameron has come up with his own suggestions. Sort of.

If they’re cut and the civil service have to do their job instead, will that mean that the civil service will increase in size? Will a Quango cull significantly cut ‘bureaucracy’?

Exceedingly unpopular

Cheap as Chips?

It all depends on the definition of a Quango (don’t tell me you thought Quasi-Aut … actually meant anything concrete!). See, Tory Chief Secretary Phillip Hammond stated that the 20 top quango employees earned £650,000. The Conservatives were challenged on this and so produced a list which included the BBC and Channel 4. Labour MP Tom Harris isn’t happy about this, and whilst the BBC and Channel 4 are expensive, the Tories don’t want to cut them, unlike the perhaps more expendable British Potato Council. In practice, no-one can decide which of them are bloated or totally unnecessary. This is a pronouncement, not a policy – it has no substance. It sounds like a good idea and involves tough spending decisions, which fits the Tories’ current narrative anyhow.

Andrew Neil and the BBC Daily Politics Team hammered into discussed the Tories’ proposals today. I’ve posted the video below¹, do see Andrew Neil’s forensic analysis of the issue here on his blog.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

¹I’ve seen this done quite a bit and the BBC make it very easy to ‘share’ but it’s the first time I’ve embedded on this site. Presumably, as I’m not making a profit, I can link to it here as opposed to on a facebook profile?

UPDATE July 7th: ah yes, I see I’m allowed to. Also, the p word is back, as can be seen in Nick Robinson’s blog post about the shifting Tory line on Quangos.

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Hilary Benn on Binyam Mohamed

This was quite a big deal for me, quite a while ago now. The Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn was none too pleased with my style. I stand by it, I wouldn’t be so forthright in every interview but I thought it was essential when discussing this issue. Why did I raise it with the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs? No-one else had raised it with any member of the cabinet, certainly not in the same amount of depth. I only wish I’d confirmed the interview earlier than on the morning of it … I would have loved to have had some notes and done more research than merely reading the newspapers every day.

See some of the critical acclaim it received below:

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