I went away on holiday for a week or two, thinking that the coalition government were unlikely to do anything too weird with Parliament in recess and everyone buggering off to the Greek Islands or the Hamptons. Technically, I’m still on holiday really. I’m just not overseas any longer.
Anyway, my hopes of Cameron and Clegg not doing anything silly seem to have been dashed. The Guardian have reported that the cabinet have decided to appoint Sir Philip Green to conduct a review of Government cuts. I’m not entirely certain what it is that makes the owner of Topshop particularly qualified for this task but apparently the Prime Minister thinks he is.
I don’t really understand why members of the Government can’t audit their own cuts. I’m told that some members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party are intelligent. “Two-Brains” Willets or Olly Letwin? I’ve heard rumours that they can think their way out of a paper bag. Those rumours, of course, could be totally wrong. But surely somebody in our government should be capable of overseeing a review? What does it say about them that they have to bring someone in?
The other issue I take with this appointment is the government once again leaping into bed with the private sector. Sir Philip has a background in retail. And a first-class one at that. He knows how to buy stuff in bulk from Taiwan, ship it to the UK and sell it for more than it costs. Nice big profits for his companies. That’s all great stuff. I’m just not sure how it qualifies him to review cuts to the nation’s services.
Of course, the Tories have form with this. In the Major government, they called in Sir Roger Hurn from the private sector to review GCHQ. The Hurn review took months, cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money and, we now know, had absolutely no discernable benefit whatsoever.
I have to wonder if the Green review won’t end with the same result.