Monday, August 08, 2011

A few thoughts on the looting/rioting

It's quite depressing seeing the spread of trouble around London and other places.

My heart goes out to those directly affected.  One of our friends works at Wood Green shopping centre (where we often used to shop when we lived in Tottenham) and he and many thousands of other people are very scared this evening.

Hundreds of people will have lost their homes, jobs, their businesses.  My guess is that many of the communities affected will lose quite a few local shops for ever.

There is quite a debate going on about whether this is political, or just criminality.  It is probably some of both, but it is definitely a lot of the latter.

Spontaneous political uprisings of the poverty stricken are not orgnaised via BlackBerry Messenger.

People angry at the Police don't decide to go off and loot a retail park two miles from the riot.  That is pure, pre-meditated criminality.

In the long run, though, it may well be that the fact that so many young people feel able to act in such a selfish and thuggish way is, in itself, a much more serious problem than if it were simply a response to either their unhappiness with policing or with the Government's austerity package.

The other issue that a lot of people seem worked up about is whether David Cameron should have dropped his holiday and rushed straight back to ... well I'm not sure exactly what he should do ... but apparently he should be here doing it.

Personally I think all members of the Government should be entitled to some holiday, particularly those with young children, and that other senior members of the Government should be perfectly capable of running the country in their abscence.  The current situation is more directly the responsibility of the Home Secretary, who is here.  We shouldn't need the PM to be here every time something kicks off.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Independent wrong on NHS IT debacle

The Independent has today rightly highlighted the waste of £6.4 billion on the attempt to create a national NHS IT system.

This waste, and the range of failures that caused it, have been highlighted in a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The leader article in the Independent, however, includes a bizarre comment in its concluding paragraph.

The paragraph starts:

"Away from the blame game, however, the bottom line is that this waste has to end."

Fair enough.  But then it continues:

"In an era when the economy was booming, IT faragos, though scandalous, were tolerable."

Apart from questioning how something 'scandalous' can, at the same time, be 'tolerable', this is an utterly bizarre comment.

It is NEVER tolerable for the Government to waste billions of pounds.  Never.  Every pound the Government wastes is a pound that could have provided a much needed service, could have reduced taxation on the less well off, or could have reduced the deficit by a pound.