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GV280 Lecture 21 Cock ups and U-turns. “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”. People who could have done the job better. Relative values.

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gv280 lecture 21 cock ups and u turns

GV280Lecture 21Cock ups and U-turns

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

relative values
Relative values
  • Policies that appear foolish to some people may seem sensible to others (sometimes, but not always, depending on their party allegiance)
  • Not all policies that initially appear foolish, misguided or mismanaged are still seen that way with the benefit of hindsight
  • Some policies that seem reasonable at first later turn out to have been foolish, misguided or mismanaged
building project no 1
Building project no. 1
  • Estimated cost was exceeded by 1400%
    • Largely funded by proceeds from lottery
  • Construction took 10 years longer than expected
  • Eventual building was dismissed as ‘white elephant’
building project no 2
Building project no. 2
  • Completed within budget (£789m)
    • Largely funded by proceeds from lottery
  • Planned completion date – 2 years after start of project
  • Actual completion date – 2 years after start of project
analysis of policy failure
Analysis of policy failure:
  • Why do things go wrong?
    • human error
    • flaws in the system of government
  • What happens after things go wrong?
    • effective remedies
    • cover ups and denial
william waldegrave 1993
William Waldegrave, 1993:

“In the end there is no magic wand which can ensure that human decision-makers avoid mistakes.”

(Quoted in Butler et al., Failure in British Government, p. 302)

butler et al system failure
Butler et al.: system failure

Elective dictatorship

  • Ability of the government to push through any policy
  • Extreme flexibility of constitution
  • Convention of local government autonomy can be flouted at will ...
  • ... and was, by the Poll Tax and similar measures
coalition in reverse
Coalition in reverse

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/31/coalition-u-turns-full-list

the u turn
The U-turn

“To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!”

- Margaret Thatcher, 1980

“I can only go one way. I've not got a reverse gear”

- Tony Blair, 2003