Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

Far from being a ‘rogue’ minister, Gove is part of Cameron strategy to undermine Leveson

Posted on 22 February 2012 | 9:02am

A very rare sighting today – a Daily Mirror editorial in support of a Tory Minister. What could be the issue that gets my old paper supporting Michael Gove?

The answer is the press, and his remarkable calling into question of the very existence of the Leveson Inquiry which, ludicrously, he says is having a ‘chilling’ effect on freedom of expression (particularly ludicrous in the week Rupert Murdoch gives birth to the son/sun of the News of the World).

Gove is one of the few ministers who gets a reasonable press across the board, partly because he was potty right wing ideas for State schools praised to the rafters by editors and leader writers who use private schools, but also because he has never severed his links with his old paymasters at Wapping, and is to a large extent the press’s representative in Cabinet.

But to go to a Commons press gallery lunch, with the specific purpose of attacking the Leveson Inquiry, takes to a new height, or rather depth, the art of ministerial sucking up to your audience so they all purr nicely as they listen to what they want to hear.

However, there is a deeper game here, one I alluded to on Question Time recently, and which I detected having bumped into a couple of Tory ministers who made perfectly clear to me that they had no appetite for major changes in press regulation, and the battering from newspapers that might result.

There is no way in the world Gove would have made yesterday’s intervention without David Cameron’s knowledge and approval. If he did, then Number 10 is incompetent. If however it was agreed in advance, then it is clear that far from Gove being a freelance rogue minister, he is the latest plank of a strategy.

The government set up Leveson because the stench from phone-hacking had become too strong, and Cameron needed something to create a bigger gap between him and his most ill-advised hire, Andy Coulson. It is also worth remembering that they did so having spent months effectively colluding with newspaper groups and police denying the full extent of a problem (just as Gove is doing again now).

But when it comes to the next election, the Tories want the press to be as supportive and supine as they were in the Thatcher days when she was handing out peerages and knighthoods according to the extent of media slavishness shown by individual papers and editors.

Leveson is asking the right questions and his inquiry has already seen and heard many reasons why a new and tougher system of regulation has to be brought in.

But with Gove now effectively a spokesman for his old boss Rupert Murdoch, and Cameron and George Osborne calculating the best way to get the media onside come the next election, the Tories in the Cabinet will do all they can do appear on the side of the press rather than the public interest they are supposed to represent.

The problem with Gove’s intervention is that it lacked any subtlety at all. It was effectively a full frontal attack on an inquiry set up by his boss. Unless the said boss makes clear he disagrees, then we have to assume the strategy is coming from Downing Street.

The press always try to dress their own excesses and cultural depravity in arguments about freedom of speech. But they have had too many drinks in the last chance saloon. The fact that the Tories in the Cabinet want to give them another one suggests that if they get their way, a once in a generation opportunity to raise press standards is going to be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Again.

Far be it from me to advise Lord Justice Leveson on how to do his business, but he might think about a private letter to the PM asking if ministers have been given free rein to undermine him as he seeks to answer the questions about the press he was asked by the Prime Minister to explore. Cameron might have some difficulty drafting the answer.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Michael Gove is a neoconservative who has links to the dubious world of think tanks. (Tavistock Institute, started by funding from Rockefellers, is worth checking here.)
    The reputation of tabloid newspapers is now in ruins. The phone-hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry have shown the real face of the press.
    Steve Coogan has said that an industry that relies on hacking phones and stalking celebrities does not deserve to survive.
    But Paul Dacre and Kelvin MacKenzie have claimed that papers should be left alone.
    But the worst excesses of tabloids must be exposed – like those of banks.
    Yet there is more to tabloids than sleaze. News of the World did some good investigative journalism.
    The Mirror especially offfers more than just celebrities. Under Piers Morgan Christopher Hitchens was a regular columnist.
    And Trevor Kavanagh has written serious stuff for the Sun.
    But, of course, the tabloids aim to entertain as well as inform. Broadsheet editors, by the way, try to do the same.
    Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian that true democracy cannot leave knowledge in the hands of the elite few.
    So Britain needs its popular press.
    Four Sun journalists arrested in investigation into police bribery puts evidence given by Rebekah Brooks under new scrutiny.
    The Sun seems to have paid money to police and public officials.
    But the Tory-led government, News International and the police wanted us to believe in one “rogue reporter” theory.
    Without the Guardian, JP and AC (plus Tom Watson) the truth would never have come out. And there is plenty more to come…
    Press freedom and criminal activity are two separate things.
    And we need diverse press. Sources must be protected.
    But News International has misled the public, lied to the police and destroyed evidence.
    Yet public interest must always be proteced, not prosecuted.
    The Murdoch Empire will soon have 40% market share again. Sun on Sunday is about to rise from the ashes of the NoW.
    Is this dominance a good thing? Is News Corp fit to own any shares in BSkyB?
    The Suns´s Sunday edition will start with a print run of 3m. It will have a strong focus on sport and TV.
    But it will also concentrate on investigative reporting.
    Price war might be on the cards. The NoW sold 2.67m copies in 2011.
    Rivals Sunday Mirror and Daily Star Sunday are ready.
    Since the NoW stopped publishing the sunday market overall has lost 1.3m readers. Half the rest went to the Sunday Mirror, the rest were split between Daily Star Sunday and People with Mail on Sunday not benefiting at all in the end.
    Advertising revenue of the NoW – £40m – has mostly dropped out of the market.
    Mr Murdoch has recruited Martin Sorrell of WWP. WWP controls one of the largest groups of advertiser spending.
    2.5m readers is the target of Sun on Sunday – 2m will be a failure.
    Can Sunday Mirror now stay above 1m? People over 400,000?
    Richard Desmond must protect his new gains.
    Interesting times! 

  • Anonymous

    How anyone can suck up to Murdoch now following the hacking scandal and their subsequent behaviour beggars belief. The opportunity was there to sever ties, to break away from the appalling grip he had/has on members of government, and the public. However, it must be said that both Labour and the Conservatives were both guilty of acting either in a servile manner or scared towards Murdoch. Indeed, had it not been for the hacking scandal the Tories were about hand him even more power. Surely there is no need for any proprietor to own more than one publication, it threatens our democracy, and benefits only the owner and their corporate interests.

  • Claire Brierley

    Brilliant article, heartily agree.

  • Matt

    I thought Gove’s speech was breathtaking because (a) he exhumed a corpse which even Fleet Street itself had laid to rest, namely the concept of ‘rogue reporters’ – it’s quite clear that the problems have been systemic; and (b) since when is a Tory Cabinet minister NOT a member of ‘the establishment’ he sought to deride??

  • Mike Gilsenan

    Isn’t there something of a hypocrisy here since Alistair and his previous master Blair were not averse to cavorting with press barons. It would seem that Alistair is trying the old ‘divide and rule’ tactic in relation to Gove and Cameron and it just won’t wash!

  • Michele

    There’s never been as much spin at play in Govt as there is now.

    One of the ‘achievements’ being claimed by local non-libdems is the  amount of pupil premium to our schools, 75% higher than the year before. 
    Given that it’s paid i.r.o. pupils on free school meals and has gone up by 20% it seems to me that most of the local increase is due to a vast increase in those entitled.

    Cameron has claimed today that more money is being poured in to the NHS.  Greaaaaaat, alongside more of it flowing out to foreign investors.  Labour introduced private supply in to the NHS; it specified what it wanted from each supplier and it only bought as and when it needed to. it did not hand decision-making and prioritising over to profit-makers.

    Doubtless one of the blog’s rightist economists will defend all this.

  • Tony Hardwick

    Gove is the latest in line of despicableTory Secs of State for Eduction going back to Snail Baker who has nothing better to do than run down the system. It’s the same strategy as the NHS policy..

    “Eichman Lansley” presides over its extermination into privatisation. Here “Goebells Gove” spits the bile of Tory propaganda to kill morale. Mind you you, he learned his trade well on a 10,000£ a month retainer as a lackey under Don Murdoch at the former News of the World. (if any one complains this is my ‘Tabloid” style)

  • Michele

     I’d imagine that Gove’s wife being employed on The Times has a lot to do with his behaviour.

    She’s bessie mates with Sam and this is the fluff about her book:
    Sarah Vine is a writer and editor at The Times. Currently she is Beauty
    Editor, but over the years she has been (in no particular order) a
    sub-editor, Arts Editor, leader writer and general all-weather
    commentator. She also co-authored The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls.
    Sarah lives in West London with a wonderful husband, two naughty
    children and an even naughtier Jack Russell.

  • reaguns

    Unregulated press bad, Government controlled / regulated press worse.

    “Independent” body of regulation favoured by AC is a classic example of a new labour quango, never fully independent, does governments bidding and takes blame. So same as govt regulation.

    Tories will take a worse beating under a free press than under a govt controlled one if govt is tory – duh.

  • Lou Rossati

    Excellent analysis.  There is no way that Cameron or his Kitchen Cabinet would allow a Minister to make rogue comments; thus Gove is acting with Cameron’s blessing.

    “You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Davey!”

  • Michele

    The point about regulation is that the reporting of political matters should become more objective and contain less comment.  Double duh.

    However, when we see politicians behaving as they do at PMQs and see Bercow now showing his true colours, it would need saintly journos to resist being personal about them. 

    The revolting smugness of the libdem-endowed 100-seat majority means that no matter how unpopular (and bordering on criminal – given what is happening to donations to the libdems from private health providers) Lansley’s changes are they will get through. 
    Mainly it would seem that they are so complicated that nobody has the time (or interest?) to try to understand them all or stack ’em up for models on their effect on each other.

    The snide claim that ‘things had to change’ is meant to imply that change and improvements had stopped under Labour.
    What tosh.

  • Michele

     All of the Press will always need to be worked WITH, it’s the only way any organisation needing to get its ideas seen by all of a country can succeed.

    People like my grandparents saw being Tory voters as a status symbol, they displayed all the behaviour that that entailed in their day, along with imagining the Wail must surely be decent mustn’t it?

  • Libdem

    ‘ it specified what it wanted from each supplier and it only bought as and when it needed to’….would this include all of the IT projects that have achieved nothing and cost us a fortune or is it your version of spin?
    ‘Spin’ was never better manipulated than by the Labour party when Alastair was in charge…..have a ganders:
    http://mcs.sagepub.com/content/22/4/507.extract

  • sarah dodds

    Is having two “naughty children” an indictment on whatever posh independent  school they send their kids to… ?
    My four kids, who just attend our local community schools, are immaculately behaved at all times!

  • reaguns

    Don’t think you’ll get any rightist economist backing this government!

  • Michele

     Oh I’m absolutely sure, for surely it must be twoo when you feel it’s time to comment, that IT projects are elsewhere always always spec’d properly, executed properly, costed and profited from properly.

    However, I know they are not.

    Perhaps, having been involved in IT yourself, you can find a working link to delight everyone with?  Talk about foot in mouth 🙂

  • Gilliebc

    ‘Gove…………..he is the latest plank………….’

    Quite right AC!

  • Michele

     Ooops, my bad (yuck).

    The link works when opened on the same tab (I prefer transporting their relevant part to a fresh one).

    Your article is by someone that I daresay gleaned his report from interviews with others.  If I’m daresaying wrongly I’m sure you know the details and can put me right for surely you’re acquainted with something or other?

    Perhaps Prof Gaber will do a scurrilous report soon about the organisation he works for, which was discovered recently to be sitting with dozens of boarded-up properties blighting the main road and residential streets of New Cross, all going to waste till prices go on an even steeper upwards curve than they are already.  The locals must be overjoyed.

  • Ehtch

    Lindsay Anderson’s brilliant 1969ish film “If” describes the torys relationship with the press – “if the press isn’t there, who is there to spank us flashman” sort of thing, as they (used!) to experience in their hardcore public schools. It is what is now inbuilt in their psyche now, whip me please, and then a handshake thanks afterwards.

    But as for Gove of the liberals? No idea what psyche he is, he is confused and all over the place, and he is playing the turn the apple cart over for turn the apple cart over reasons only, like the rest of them goons in the coalition. Have they ever heard of evolution of a system, no matter what the ideal wanted is? To drastically change things results in total and absolute chaos.

  • Michele

     Oh I don’t think Gove would dare not use a state-funded school would he?  :-O

    He did make quite a lot of mistakes on his expenses in days gone by but then he was spending at Sarah’s friend Sam’s Mum’s shop so we must try to be understanding about him overstepping the JLP pricelist.  Blinking ‘eck, this is getting like a grammar sampler !!

  • reaguns

    Michele we are off wavelength again: “The point about regulation is that the reporting of political matters should become more objective and contain less comment.  Double duh.” If I understand then I disagree. I don’t the press should be allowed to use fraud, entrapment and so on but beyond that it should be allowed to do whatever it wants to hold politicians to account. Looking at some other countries perhaps the press should be allowed to do even that. In this country if the govt bugged Murdoch’s office I think we would accept that, whereas if Murdoch bugged them we wouldn’t. Slippery slope.

    The point about regulation is that the government should stay out of it, except in terms of ownership, ie if Murdoch were to take over too much of the press (and perhaps he has) or he plus the likes of Dacre / Desmond. But we have the mirror, the guardian, the financial times, ch4 and the bbc, the internet.

    I think journos can get personal about politicians, we have a right to know about their morals. If a politician cheats on his wife, or abandons his kids I want to know, its certainly something I’d take into account when deciding to vote for him. If he is a scientologist (picking a soft target religion on purpose) I want to know.

    Agree with your NHS / Labour comments.

  • Alistair – the other reason Gove is to undermine the Levinson enquiry is because, if you dig down into the white paper and put together a raft from twigs of information here and there, I *think* Murdoch was looking into providing schools with eTechnology – I suspect this would mean elessons, and the associated software, and probably advertising along with the lessons as well, in order to ensure that they catch their consumer young.

    Gove had more meetings with Murdoch than any other minister, and Gove’s briefing is education, and Sky-related companies were making this sort of noise stateside.

    *That* is a story that should be blown sky high, and now, while the public interest is still there.  Put your chaps onto it!

    PS me and my mates all think that Damien Lewis looks like a young Alistair Cambell.

  • Pam

    Oh yes the hypocrisy is breathtaking!

    But Mr Campbell and New Labour were rumbled a long time ago……so no one will  fall for his flannel (spin) again.

  • Cory

    Well done Alastair, keep commenting on this issue – only if they are dragged kicking & screaming will DM/Murdoch etc change their undemocratic ways…

  • Ehtch

    RIGHT! I am going to say something strong here, within our laws – AHEM!, here goes, STOP MAKING US PEOPLE FEEL GUILTY FOR JUST BEING ALIVE GOVERNMENTS AND BANANA OTHER CONTROL FREAKS THAT GET INTO SOME SORT OF POWER! you c&&nts

    glad I got that off my chest, can stop screaming into space now. Time for a song I think, quite funny, maybe the Fry Man would be tickled with this, Stephen?,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YryOrm1vfZ4

  • Libdem

    Enlighten us all, tell us which  non-governmental IT system has run up a tab for 12bn and not been implemented…

  • Michele

     I’m not sure I mentioned anywhere that bad behaviour should not be reported.

    What makes me really sick is the media louts pretending, when they ‘break’ a story to the public before advising the wronged party what they’ve discovered.
    That’s all about sales – ‘breaking’ a story, it’s not about altruism and deflating a bypocrite’s balloon.
    Perhaps they’re another group where bonuses and off-shore payments need to be known about.
    I find it hard to believe that NoW journalists did all that they did and represented themselves so badly as gossipy sneaks  without the likelihood of fat bonuses being on the horizon.

    I’m not sure that the Govt should stay completely out of how papers conduct themselves.  I don’t want to see some stranger’s breasts wherever I look on the train, I don’t want her used as the bribe to get blokes to buy this or that paper or, if they continue to do so then the papers should only be opened in private.  It might seem like nasty censorship but as a pre-laddette woman it’s honest.  Do it in the lavs lads 🙂

    • reaguns

      It is a difficult one with bad consequences either way, but I feel a government controlled or heavily regulated press would have the worst consequences. I do want them to really scrutinise mps, though I don’t want them to abuse those freedoms to hack for example milky dowlers phones. Perhaps they should have more rights to investigate mps as opposed to normal citizens.

      I actually agree with you re p3! There is one paper I buy the day after footy because it has the best footy analysis. It also has p3 and I do feel awkward leafing through it beside someone on the train! Always seem like an anomaly that we have 9pm watershed, blue mags on top shelf etc but people staring at bare boobs in broad daylight in our top selling paper!

  • Michele

     Ah, it’s Fred in the Pam frock again.

    Or Pam out of the Fred suit :-s

  • Ehtch

    Feck, still looking for clips of Sky Art, none found, but found this marvellous stuff, brilliant.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc105cW_Uz4

  • Dave Simons

    Glad to hear you don’t like hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is universal and certainly present in all political parties as well as individuals like you and me, but no political party in the UK can ever hope to match the Conservative Party, of whose basic creed hypocrisy is, and always has been, one of the foundation stones. It comes from a basic philosophy – a few people should have more of everything than the rest, variously referred to as the masses, the hoi-polloi, the great unwashed, the swinish multitude and other such delightful terms.The problem for the Conservative Party is, after the Long March of Everyman and Everywoman towards universal suffrage, how do you con these enfranchised dumbos into voting you into office?

  • Dave Simons

    The Cameron claims yesterday in Parliament about the NHS refer to the NHS inherited from the Labour government. Lansley’s ‘reforms’ have started being introduced but they have had little effect on the NHS so far. If the NHS is breaking records at present why continue with this expensive top-down reorganisation?

  • Michele

     
    I googled for losses of £12Bn and came up with Roman Abramovitch followed by scores of articles in the Wail and on rightwing nutjob blogs about Labour’s IT projects. Sooooo …. where is your figure from? 

    You don’t do your wish for a scrap (based on being a defender of a pathetic bunch of traitors) any justice.

    I work in a business where when a client is not briefing in an informed way we ask questions, get clarification, explain possible misunderstandings and do all this because clients are charged for completed jobs. 

    We also have no wish to pretend there’s any mystique about what we do …… do you know what I mean, IT person?

    Now get back to the topic where this started.  Disregarding the IT projects (where blame SHOULD have been shared) and talking about the private medical services that Labour commissioned for the NHS …… deal with that.

  • Michele

     Can you stop using a certain word Ehtch, disguised or not, try to stop sounding like a chauvinistic prick eh?

  • reaguns

    Ps I couldn’t help but chuckle when you said some “strangers” breasts – like it’d be fine if it was someone you know!

  • Ehtch

    will try, but I am not promising anything Michele. Language is a device to get a reaction, isn’t it? No matter in what order the vowels and consonants are put. Ok, Michele, just call me a shock monkey jockey, I don’t mind. The mother of my daughter raised her eyelids and eyebrows when I burnt myself cooking the evening meal, but that is different, I suppose.

    By the way, happy 21st for my Siân for yesterday. Got her mother to call her that after Siân Phillips the actress, and after my cousin’s best wonderful bitch dog he ever had, of course. She was a wonderful dog to all our family – that is all you had to say is rats and point to up the garden and she would scarper up it looking and nosing for rats.

  • Michele

     
    I worry about the effects on relationships during the time before we knew hacking was fact.
    Heather Mills has already described the accusations she had from PM during their divorce talks because the Press knew about their confidential arrangements.
    I dread to think what it was like in No10 when the Press decided to blast about CB’s pregnancy.  She must have suspected confidantes of leaking and even if she didn’t voice such suspicions I hope  her current damages claim will be for charity (as if it’s recompense being passed along).

  • Michele

     OK, given that you apply it to things or people you don’t like, I’ll assume you don’t like them.

    Sor’ed.

  • Libdem

    Try looking at the National Audit Office, it should satisfy your craving for facts re Labour profligacy.

    If you don’t deal in pretence how come you support the Labour Party hook, line and sinker?

  • Michele

     Somebody has problems with vowels, even though there are only five of them :-s

  • Michele

     I think it’s up to you to provide provenance of £12Bn isn’t it?
    You’re the one ‘quoting’ £12Bn aren’t you? 
    You’re the defender of IT wizards aren’t you? 

    I’m someone that’s seen how some screw up and pass the buck and don’t explain what it is they’re flogging (especially when such a great part of what they’re flogging is TIME, paid time, little incentive for finishing a job or even executing it well right from the very start.

    Set to, chop chop, links please (just to prove you WERE quoting and not merely spouting or wailing).

  • Libdem

    NAO – go!

  • Dave Simons

     There is some debate about a sixth vowel. Don’t ask me ‘y’.

  • Michele

    Resisting the vortex again with this for the slavering dribbling one 🙂

    I posted some links earlier this morning especially for your delectation and delight.  They must have got lorst …..

    They included a report from a Canadian ‘organ’ reporting on IT failures internationally and in one of the categories the flops were 81%.  I don’t save drafts so herewith different links:

    This one is similar:
    http://edge.papercutpm.com/it-project-value-vs-waste/

    I think this one is especially cynical. 
    A Tory MP that started a project in 1983 and was presumably aware of its progress right up till 1997 blasts about it in 2003.
    Do you suppose he’s blasting the IT industry or simply feeding the Wail’s nags with cob nuts?
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/01/29/courts_it_project_shocking_waste/

    The undeniable FACT is that fault lies on both sides when big projects go bits up, clients buy services from those claiming to be specialist and to understand the job and have the talent to JFDI.
    http://www.fcbco.com/articles-whitepapers/how-to-avoid-IT-project-waste.asp

    Your slavering delight in the NHS comp situation must have a personal slant within it?  You’re in IT (or have been).  Are you accepting what your failed boss told you or are you the failure?

    Your assertion (lifted from Wail?) that nothing from $12Bn investment is implemented is lies, it has been moving in to use for over a decade.   Get objective (you’ve admitted non-lib/non-dems are being  toasted, re-tag yourself truly blue).
    After all, I posted last weekend a link from a study showing that a private health provider that funded Non-LDs in 2010 has increased donations this year several-fold.

  • Ehtch

    I like everyone Michele, can see the failings in them, so I understand. My use of anglo-saxon dark dictionary chapter is my way of just expressing frustration, but yes, it is an artform, not generally to be tried by amateurs, like me, no doubt.

  • Michele

    Your LIE about£12Bn and nada implemented is dealt with in the ‘vortex’ avoidance post.

    Shooooh- hissssssssss

  • Libdem

    You asked for FACTS, I told you to go and read the NAO website, you cannot be bothered or perhaps you have and don’t like what you found….who knows, who cares…you’ll bend the FACTS to suit whatever it is you have to say.

    The examples you have given are no more than an indication of how desperate you are to be ‘right’, you have dredged the barrel for evidence of difficulty. If it is too difficult then don’t do it, not all systems lend themselves to an IT solution. I would have thought that someone as experienced as you claim would have known that, then again maybe not.

  • Anonymous

    Politicians of both sides seem to be trying to undermine Leveson, to a bigger or lesser extent. Today, it was the turn of Tessa Jowell.  Last night, the Deputy Leader of UKIP. And before that it was Gove.

    None of the politicians seem to think there is anything wrong in voicing their opinions in how our future press regulation should be structured.  None, seem to think it wise to wait for the outcome of Leveson and hold their tongue or wait until they are called to give evidence.

    It seems to be becoming a political football, but all that is doing is undermining the inquiry.  I don’t understand why they are doing it, but it doesn’t feel right.

    I read more and more that the ‘public are bored’ of Leveson, but oddly, my friends speak about it quite a bit.  We all know that the press needs to change, so despite it not being the most important issue we face atm, it continues to be of interest.  I think that it will continue to be so, despite what the press and politicians might want us to think.

  • Michele

     Are you off your rocker or what?

    Back up what YOU claim to have read from reliable sources.

    It’s easy enough, you do know about links so back yourSELF up.

    For an IT serf you are really behaving true to form.

  • Michele

     My post was badly written so your misunderstanding of what I meant by ‘them’ when I’d previously used ‘it’ is understandable.

    🙂

  • Michele

     Where’ve your gorn New Bloo?

    Admit it, you read the Wail last September, you’ve quoted THEM (and not checked NAO yourself) and you did not read the Guardian the following day which explained much of the project has been implemented and is working just fine and what has not been finished is being trashed by Trasher Lansley.

    Buzzzz ***

  • Libdem

    I would have thought given your sensitivities that you would have avoided the reference to my mental state but heh who could ever accuse you of sticking to principles.

    I take it you cannot find the NAO website or can’t be bothered more likely….try and avoid the personal stuff, it’s a bit childish coming from a woman of a certain age….

  • Ehtch

    No probs. I think we understand each other.

  • Anonymous

    I want to jump in on this one, without doing all the background reading but my few years work on govt IT projects will be a substitute I trust.

    The whole thing is a disaster. American (and sometimes French) corporate behemoths basically get a license to print money. They are given the wrong incentives. They employ armies of people to do unnecessary work and draw out the work as long as possible. The government pays them and creates the ridiculously complicated legislation in the first place that must be coded for. The civil servants in the middle are not innocent but they are the least guilty.

    I worked on one system that would have taken a small private firm of about 50 people about 6 months to build. Most of those 50 would be techies. The govt + american it giant had 600 people working on it, it took at least 10 years and still doesn’t work.

    We need simple legislation, then give someone money to build a simple system (payable on delivery.) If that works, build the next bit. I was told the NHS one was supposed to be done like that but I bet it wasn’t. 

  • Michele

     The whole thing is not a disaster, huge chunks of it are in use and have been for years. 
    If your GP and hospital are not now using systems far superior to the last century’s perhaps it’s they that are wasting opportunities (but I doubt it’s so).
    Of course such a project would be never ending; there would be new techniques in medicine and new software in IT and all its functions would have to be movable for infinity.

    Its being trashed by the slasher is the disaster (following on from it having been trashed by the Wail in September and too few reading the grundian’s trashing of the Wail’s ‘report’). 
    The slasher has made its trashing a necessity and inevitability has he not?  How can a truly national entity, when broken down in to competing local groups, continue with the same or even developments of the IT status quo?

    You have worked in IT, I doubt you were able to respect your employers, yet you can’t resist the urge to blurt without the courtesy of bothering with the chore of reading input to date. 

  • Anonymous

    Michele I’ve worked for a few firms in IT, broadly speaking three of these employers I really respect, two (and one in particular) I did not. Well perhaps three if you include the government as the sponsor.

    When it comes to the NHS system it is speculation, a hunch because I believe I worked for the 2 main parties involved and know how they do stuff. However I know of at least one IT project that the same two collaborated on to great success and efficiency so it is possible they did so this time. Certainly from what I’ve heard it was nowhere near the sort of disaster zone they have on benefits, tax, child support systems on all of which I can confirm billions were needlessly squandered.

    I think the starting point for NHS is just a national patient database, right? That should have been useful and achievable, I hear conflicting reports as to how that has gone.

    You allude to IT developments, this was one thing that wound me up on the benefits system, they spend millions on consultants to work out how to use the latest, dearest technology, for the slickest looking user interfaces and websites. Why? In commercial systems, people might want to do that to sell products but who cares what a benefit system looks like? The workers and recipients have to use it no matter what, beautifying it is a waste of money.

  • Libdem

    One simple example for you…I acquired a PC for a government department for 400 pounds as they’d been quoted 1500 by the people who had the contract….it’s called profiteering…

  • Anonymous

    Spot on. When people are playing with other peoples money, they do not spend it carefully. If their actions do not affect their own bottom line they’ll be careless.

    Taken to the next level we had to put fancy web front ends on legacy benefit systems. Like someone was going to say “I don’t want that money unless it comes from a prettier screen.”

    Lots of people disagreed, I thought they were mental and then heard that quote “It is difficult to make a man understand something, when his job depends on not understanding it.”