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Incompetence abounds!

July 1, 2021 1:49 PM
Originally published by Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats

2bx5 (Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash)The pandemic threw up many examples of government incompetence around care homes, PPE, lock-down timings and border closures, not to mention exam results and free school meals. Apologists argued that this could be understood and forgiven by the need for urgent action to combat the unknown impact of the pandemic

However, with something approaching normality beginning to return, the steady trickle of stories about on-going incompetence continue. It leads us to the conclusion that the current set of ministers really aren't very good and that incompetence seems to be a way of life.

Here are a few examples to support that feeling taken from the press just this week

1 Foreign Secretary Security

After stories our Prime Minister's mobile number was freely available on-line it turns out that the private mobile number of Dominic Raab, has also been online for at least 11 years, raising questions for the security services

The foreign secretary has previously warned of the cybersecurity threat posed by rogue states.

2 Personal E-mails

Downing Street has admitted a health minister, Lord Bethell, along with Matt Hancock, used private emails for government business despite denying it 24 hours earlier. The concern here is about traceability of correspondence if material is not held on government servers

Boris Johnson's spokesman said the use of personal emails to conduct government business was acceptable if the information was copied to an official account. It is not clear if this correspondence was all copied to a government e-mail address.

3 Pushed or jumped?

Having said that Mr Hancock had his full confidence and " the matter was closed" on Friday the Prime Minister came in for a lot of criticism for supporting his health secretary over the weekend. By Monday he was implying he had had a hand in his leaving the post despite there being no evidence of that in the exchange of letters over the resignation

4 Skills shortages

The CBI has said the government urgently needed to look again at its post-Brexit immigration policy to prevent chronic skills shortages from undermining the UK's economic recovery from Covid-19.

Pressure is mounting on hauliers, hospitality venues and the food and drink industry in particular, with companies scrambling to hire staff as pandemic restrictions are relaxed and demand for goods and services returns. Logistics organisations have warned that chilled food will struggle to reach some shops this summer because of a lack of drivers and production workers. In the Economist magazine they report that in construction since 2017 there has been a 4% reduction in British workers but a 42% reduction in those from the EU.

In total some 750000 - 1m workers have left the UK as a result of covid and Brexit with new immigration rules making it much less likely they will return

Good news for skilled British residents who are likely to see wages rise and increased pressure on employers to improve training etc but such actions are unlikely to have much short-term effect. With no transition arrangements in place there is now talk of adding a range of jobs to the skills shortage list allowing recruitment of large numbers from abroad

5 Creative " free movement"

We covered the ridiculous situation whereby our artists are having big difficulties working in Europe following the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement . Lord Frost who negotiated the deal and is Europe minister said yesterday he didn't see it as his job to sort this . It led the SNP culture spokesman, John Nicolson to comment that the EU had entered into a number of visa waiver agreements with governments that meant "a musician from Tonga has greater access to work in Europe than UK musicians. The reality is that you sacrificed a £6bn sector and its workers for Brexit … anti-free trade movement zealotry."

6 Environmental Protection

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said it is urging the government to take biodiversity loss as seriously as the climate crisis, and said it had "grave" concerns about progress, with the UK having the lowest level of biodiversity remaining among any of the G7 countries.

In a statement, the EAC said "existing government policy and targets were inadequate to address plummeting biodiversity loss", and accused the government of "spend[ing] more on practices that exploit the natural environment than conserving it" It described government policy designed to tackle runaway biodiversity loss as "inadequate", "not joined up" and "not on track to improve the environment within a generation".

7 Food Waste.

Supermarkets, farmers and manufacturers are being incentivised to dump good-to-eat surplus food as waste rather than donating it to feed the hungry as a result of a £600m government subsidy scheme,

Three programmes pay public money to waste operators that use anaerobic digestion (AD) to create biogas from food waste - with a fourth due to start in the autumn for a further £150m, taking the total subsidisation to £750m.

These subsidies, up from £200m five years ago, are so lucrative that AD operators will even pay food businesses to take their surplus produce away, rather than the other way around.

As a result, the equivalent of 150 million meals of edible food is sent to AD plants each year, at a time when research from the Food Foundation shows that 30 per cent of parents are worried about feeding their children this summer.

The more carefully you look at this government's actions, the harder it is to believe that there is much joined up thinking going on.