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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Public Wall-e

Dear Ivor

I have been plagued by doubts today, probably due to excessive blogging! However this morning whilst listening to the Today programme (I have tried to wean myself off Radio 4 but it is proving harder than I thought, I blame Evan!) heard the news update on the Chinook helicopter debacle.

Due to fundamental errors the eight helicopters were purchased without analysis of the software documentation and codes to ensure that these met the UK Defence Standards, simple mistake! As their airworthiness can’t be checked they have remained in a hangar for the past 9 years.

The cost to the taxpayer has spiralled from £259m to more than £422m or a mere £52.5m each. Makes Sir Fred’s pension pot seem not so bad, he couldn’t even afford one!

The Commons public accounts committee chairman Edward Leigh said that the Chinook Mark 3 programme had been "hamstrung from the start" with "bad decision-making to the point of irresponsibility".

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies (a Cambridge alumnus, ex-banker (Morgan Grenfell) and with wife employed as his parliamentary assistant, probably of little interest to you), took on the post in October 2008, said he "entirely accepts the criticism that successive reports have made" but claimed there was "nothing new " in the latest public accounts committee report. He seems to have ignored the disclosure that the new downgrading programme to get the Chinooks into the air has been adopted without checking costs with Boeing, hey what’s a few more millions between taxpayers, therefore resulting in an even higher bill.

Mr Davies who does seem to have a problem with recognising the efficacy of defence equipment perhaps ought to reconsider using Wall-e’s old mate as his kit advisor.

However frivolity on Google images aside and on to doubts, why is it that we can rightly haul the banker’s over the coals for losing millions and being rewarded for failure but the odd £100 million here and there in the public sector goes largely unchallenged by the British people.

Why isn’t there a public furore over this scandalous waste of money and the cost to our service men and women? Why is there little desire for accountability here? Are we manipulated into focusing on convenient diversions whilst the bigger picture remains shrouded in sound-bites and convenient legislation?

Or are we just so used to politicians’ failure that we allow them immunity from responsibility?

Poll x

Ps Need to look for our own Head of Defence and Foreign Affairs, think we can exclude Mr Davies.