Coffee House

Richard Branson forces government into a great train U-turn

3 October 2012

9:06 AM

3 October 2012

9:06 AM

Sir Richard Branson is not a man who takes kindly to failing to get his own way. That was why few people were surprised by the Virgin boss’ furious response to the government’s decision to award the West Coast Mainline to his rivals First Group. It wasn’t fair, he protested, and thousands of people seemed to agree, signing a petition criticising the decision.

This morning it transpires that Branson’s frenzied campaign against the contract actually led to the discovery of an enormous mistake at the heart of the bidding process. Civil servants checking their sums before a court case questioning the decision realise that they had in fact got those sums wrong. They had made mistakes in calculating the effect of inflation and passenger numbers. And so new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced the franchise competition will have to be re-run.

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How fortunate for Labour, when only yesterday Ed Miliband described the government as an ‘incompetent, hopeless, out of touch, U-turning, pledge-breaking, make it up as you go along, back of the envelope, miserable shower’. This is a hugely embarrassing U-turn, but McLoughlin refused point blank to apologise when interviewed on the Today programme. He said:

‘I’m not going to apologise for what is a terrible mistake that has been made by the department. We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong as far as that is concerned.’

He added:

‘Ministers were assured that this was robust. I arrived in the department just under four weeks ago; I was told at that stage there might be some technical points – it became more serious as time went on. When I saw the full extent of the advice I got yesterday afternoon, I took the decision I have taken to put the whole process on pause so we can learn the lessons and we can see what went wrong in this particular area.’

Most government rows are indeed caused by cock-up, not conspiracy, and McLoughlin is distancing himself as much as he possibly can from this particular cock-up, emphasising that he has only just arrived, and it’s the department’s fault, not his.

But the two people facing really awkward questions are the two ministers who oversaw the bidding process: Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers. They will find the revelation that their civil servants when they were in the transport bid failed to account of two elements as basic and obvious as inflation and passenger figures very uncomfortable indeed.

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Show comments
  • Sarah

    Having worked on government projects where incompetence and waste are absolutely rife, this doesn’t surprise me. The problem as I see it is that you have career public sectorists with inferior commercial training, experience, awareness and massive budgets managing international career contractors with shark-like financial instincts creating the perfect vehicle for transferring money from the treasury to their pockets for the longest amount of time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-Hill/100000917822376 Iain Hill

    I have thankfully retired from an executive job, but if once in my whole career I had defended a mistake by saying that I had received “robust assurances” from someone else, I would surely have been booted out. Assurances are there to be tested and personally checked out when necessary. A ministerial unannounced visit to the G4S recruitment centre to examine records would have revealed the true situation months before. Not only stupid and gullible, but lazy too (all parties).

  • Eddie

    Most civil servants are utterly useless bureaucrats, whose jobs are created by other bureaucrat civil servants, who are obsessed with paperwork, meetings and talking tosh.
    Would we really be any worse off if 80% of civil servants were sacked and all work (such as this basic accounting) outsourced to those who can actually do their sums (ie accountants) rather than 4th raters who have joined the gravy train of the civil service (where the incompetent get promoted, not sacked, so long as they plod along their sychophantic non-commital path…)
    I could say the same thing about many state-funded jobs – all university staff, health service staff etc.
    Personally, I would immediately cut the pay of the lot of em by 25% and remove all their pension plan privileges. Why on earth do these plodders and mediocrities expect gfold-plated ring-fenced pensions when those who work harder for less get no pension at all?
    Someone needs to grasp this nettle. I know politicians don’t want to, because we have made many of the regions dependent on state-funded jobs. And this has created a sense of entitlement – round where I live, most people work for the state, and smugly look down on all those who start businesses and work in the private sector.
    Personally, I would make ALL state-funded jobs limited contracts – no tenure for anyone. And no special pension plans. It is those in the private sector who take the risk who should get more respected and perhaps get a pension bonus. Those dullards and mediocrities who shuffle paper for the state should be paid what that job is worth: £5 an hour, probably – and that includes for the leftie professors are the Polytechnics of Oop North too!

    • Eddie

      And how much got lost by civil servants faffing up the new computer system for the NHS? £1 billion. Count it!
      And how much has been lost because of incompetent civil servants signing PPPs which give private companies a licence to print money?
      These people are idiots and have lost this country billions. Maybe they can be charged with a crime and/or held personally responsible for that loss? It is our money, after all.

      • james102

        No they are not idiots, but their background is wrong for
        the management and design of these contracts.

        Think about the selection criteria for people destined for
        senior public sector posts. High academic achievers, predominantly in the humanities.
        Now think of the selection criteria for the people they are dealing with.

        Business is a meritocracy, despite the best efforts so far
        of social engineering legislation, it is an environment, like evolution, that
        ruthlessly eliminates those unable to adapt and succeed. Whereas the public
        sector…

        The situation will get worse as the fallacy of proportionate
        outcomes is imposed by law.

      • james102

        No they are not idiots, but their background is wrong for
        the management and design of these contracts.

        Think about the selection criteria for people destined for
        senior public sector posts. High academic achievers, predominantly in the humanities.
        Now think of the selection criteria for the people they are dealing with.

        Business is a meritocracy, despite the best efforts so far
        of social engineering legislation, it is an environment, like evolution, that
        ruthlessly eliminates those unable to adapt and succeed. Whereas the public
        sector…

        The situation will get worse as the fallacy of proportionate
        outcomes is imposed by law.

    • TomTom

      Except she was GOLDMAN SACHS

    • TomTom

      Except she was GOLDMAN SACHS

  • Jane

    A lack of competence in the civil service comes as no surprise to us who work with it on a daily basis and have seen its deterioration over the last 15 years. It reflects low educational standards and the introduction of political advisors.

  • Jane

    A lack of competence in the civil service comes as no surprise to us who work with it on a daily basis and have seen its deterioration over the last 15 years. It reflects low educational standards and the introduction of political advisors.

  • David Lindsay

    There is only one destination here. Renationalisation.

    Come on, Ed. Say it.

  • Robert Taggart

    This be Virgin on the ridiculous.
    All this talk about u-turns, but, not one mention of derailment.
    Sorry, some one had to say it !
    As for u-turns – on the rails – it can be done – Ely North Curve.
    Signed, a BR ‘Blue’ Anorak !

  • TomTom

    Don’t forget Branson + GTech + Guy Snowden 1998

  • dorothy wilson

    Government procurement has been a shambles for years. I studied for a management diploma in the 1980s. One of the case studies we had was about a botched project under the Defence Secretary who fell asleep at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee [Fred Mullery?]

    If my memory is correct it related to the Awac aircraft system. I seem to remember there was an off-the-shelf option available but the Labour Government decided to design from scratch. I can’t remember the ins and outs of what went wrong but the whole project was an absolute mess and massively over time and budget.

    There was a Panorama programme about it introduced by Tom Mangold. Our case study was based on that and was along the lines that this is how NOT to manage a project.

    • TomTom

      The best one was the IC125 Diesel Train in the 1960s and how the life-span was fiddled to make the DCF calculations look attractive and that is why they are still on the rails today

    • ScaryBiscuits

      The reason we designed from scratch was that as an island nation with some very valuable assets in the North Sea we required a radar optimised for use over the sea, whilst the US system was designed for use over land.
      That in itself wasn’t a terrible decision. The debacle over attack helicopters shows that buying off-the-shelf is no panacea.
      The root problem is that politicians keep changing their minds, often for non-defence reasons such as providing jobs in a particular constituency (which is the real reason such an old airframe was chosen), meaning that the plans had to be torn up every few years and resulting in a dog’s dinner.

  • Sweetpea

    Many contributors here have bemoaned the rise of the career politician and argued, not unreasonably, for more politicans with real world and real work experience. Justine Greening, with her background in accountancy and financial management would appear to fit the bill. But what’s the point of having politicians who’ve done a proper job if they aren’t going to use their skills and experience in government? Blame the civil servants: fine; but ask yourselves, shouldn’t their Secretary of State have ensured that she had a proper grip?

    • TomTom

      Accountancy is not numeracy and not business experience. It is simply auditing and doing checklists. The Treasury should have an Office of Management and Budget and pay proper salaries for MBAs instead of the crappy salaries it pays and the high churn rate

      • Dimoto

        ‘MBAs’ Tom Tom ?
        Are you joking, or just showing your age ?
        God save us from the “MBA consultants” !

        • TomTom

          Kate Mingay heads the division – ex-Goldman Sachs, ex-London Business School, ex-Cambridge University………..as for Dimoto, what age ? As an MBA I know what they can and cannot do but am surprised that London Business School which is so financially-focused produces Kate Mingay who can’t assess a deal…..really ? Goldman Sachs promoted her to Executive Director before letting her infiltrate Government

        • TomTom

          Kate Mingay heads the division – ex-Goldman Sachs, ex-London Business School, ex-Cambridge University………..as for Dimoto, what age ? As an MBA I know what they can and cannot do but am surprised that London Business School which is so financially-focused produces Kate Mingay who can’t assess a deal…..really ? Goldman Sachs promoted her to Executive Director before letting her infiltrate Government

  • Jules

    As if right on cue. Labour really are fortunate to be up against Cameron and co. The next election is being handed to them on a plate.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Richard Branson “does not take kindly” and mounted a “frenzied campaign”. Emotive words, for what reason?

    Was this article influenced by the BBC, or a Socialist Workers Party leaflet by any chance?

    The man has been proved correct in his assertion that the bidding process was flawed, but still he is denigrated. Is it perchance because he is a succesful entrepeneur, and billionaire, whose organisations and employees pay millions in taxes.

    As the operator of what is arguably the best mainline rail service in the country, he is entitled to be very agrieved to lose the contract to continue supplying that service. He is also correct, indeed it is his duty to mount a robust campaign in defence of the interests of his company, employees and shareholders.

    We will never lift ourselves out of the socialist mire until we stop singing their song for them.

    • Frank P

      Agree, but how did Branson himself acquire the original franchise? Pots, kettles and black-asses, maybe? It’s a rough old game, but I agree that pragmatism should prevail here. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. On the whole I have found Branson’s virginal services well-run and VFM. Slippery rascal though he may be, he’s certainly better – or perhaps no worse would be a better qualification – than most global pirates.

  • Marcellus

    On the basis of what has been said to date, this is nothing to do with “the government” and everything to do with the complacent incompetence of elements of the civil service.

  • TomTom

    “of an enormous mistake” that is how we describe Corruption nowadays…..well I never…

  • HooksLaw

    There is nothing complex about comparing 4 bids and accounting for inflation. Incompetent civil servants have no excuses. Large projects, as I know from personal experience, can be competently managed by public servants. I know for a fact how rigorously multi million pound health service schemes are tested. Drawing wide ranging conclusions from this one example is to merely pander to prejudice.

    The issue here is however an important one which the Civil Service branch of the public sector must answer. When government ministers are given assurances by civil servants they need to be confident that it is valid.

  • anyfool

    The Civil Service now seem to make mistakes that invariably embarrass the present government, is this incompetence or just the result of 13 years of politicisation by the Labour Party.
    Whats the bet, actions have been put in place to prevent this from happening again, becomes the inquiry result.
    What will not happen is that anyone will be held accountable and sacked.

    • Nicholas

      It’s the result of both the Gramscian “long march” through the institutions from the 1960s and the politicisation of the civil service during New Labour’s years of occupation. Together with a media encouraged narrative that has steadily and relentlessly sought to demonise the Tories as a party.

      The shift left has resulted in the most undemocratic politics we have ever seen, where the drive for the “centre-ground” is mere squabbling over a series of left-wing presumptions that have never been effectively challenged.

      The prejudice and distortion is so deep rooted that there can be an instant clamour for Milliband’s “One Nation” whereas Cameron’s “Big Society” was mercilessly attacked from day one.

    • Cogito Ergosum

      The Civil Service has “let go” anyone who actually knows anything, as opposed to people who claim they are “managers”. This has been going on since the 1970s at least.

      Of course, there are no real managers in the CS. Anyone who actually can manage will go and make their fortune in the market.

      Gone are the crisis days of 1940, when briefly the authorities listened to the scientists and engineers because they were threatened by Nazi conquest. But the Treasury and the CS hate scientists, because they insist on facing reality rather than being loyal to departmental policy. So they destroyed the Scientific Civil Service by turning it into agencies or by outright privatisation.

      Remember the foot and mouth disease crisis in 2001. It was obvious the CS had nobody with a clue. All the old knowledge of how to prevent f & m, and to watch for its early stages, had been forgotten.

  • Nicholas

    I see the Labour online blog rebuttal unit is back at work after drooling over the two Ed’s “barnstorming” speeches. “Impartial observer” is especially hilarious. Their approach to trolling is as inept as their approach to government.

    • Sweetpea

      Impartial Observer asks a fair question, and does so without insulting anyone. What are the achievements of the current Government?

      • Nicholas

        Google “coalition achievements. Plenty of stuff there. So much that when I tried to cut and paste it the blog wouldn’t accept the post. Impartial observer’s “question” was neither impartial nor fair.

        • Sweetpea

          Can’t find an objective list of “coalition achievements” via Google. I notice that pride of place on the Conservative Research Dept’s list of boasts is about a credible deficit reduction plan. If even the first “notable” success doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, I doubt the rest are worth consideration. Seriously, Nicholas, three reasons why you are proud for voting this lot in….

          • Scrapper

            £1 = $1.6, £1 = 1.25 euro, and no riots on the street a la Greece and Spain (well not so far this year).

            • Sweetpea

              Scrapper: Sorry, what’s the Coalition achievement you are highlighting here?

          • Nicholas

            Oh, I see. The goalposts are shifted once more. It must now be an “objective” list. Since whatever they achieve will be judged subjectively by any tribal lefty as well as shrouded in half truths and distortions if not downright lies there is not much point really.

            Did I actually write I was “proud” of voting for this lot. Er, no. More words in mouths and distortions. I voted for them mainly because the alternative – five more years of Brown and his gang of national socialists was just too ghastly to contemplate.

            • Sweetpea

              So you didn’t have a positive reason for voting Tory. And if anyone wants to know what the Government has achieved, they have to view Government or Tory or LibDem websites. Even you, having been given two opportunities to list their achievements ,couldn’t find anything – even using the mighty Google – worth listing here. And I notice that you think it is unfair to ask questions about the Government’s achievements; is that down to some sort of new-fangled, right-wing political correctness – don’t ask us about our competence, it might make us cry?

              • Nicholas

                Ha ha! Whenever a lefty begins a comment with “So you . . ” I know that more words put in mouths and distortions are coming. There is a subtle difference between “couldn’t find anything” and “can’t be bothered to list them”. And yes, I had a positive reason for voting Tory – the positive desire to end the abuse of national socialist New Labour against our country.

                But you carry on with the leftist trick of defining and determining other people by re-writing their comments to conform to your prejudices and hatred. It’s just what you do and we of the conservative blogosphere all know you for it.

                • Sweetpea

                  May I suggest that like our Government you need to get a grip? Cheers.

                • Sweetpea

                  May I suggest that like our Government you need to get a grip? Cheers.

      • TomTom

        Full Employment for George Osborne, David Cameron, Nick Clegg

  • BuBBleBus

    This is very much a sign of the times. Incompetence though (a) ever-increasing complexity (b) reliance on computer models (c) models driven by people who do not have the experience to see where the errors are, until it is too late. Make it simple, make it easier to fix and make it work. Don’t you just despair, seeing Civilisation going down the drain, through ideology (wrong concepts) and incompetence (wrong people at the wheel)?

    • Heartless etc.,

      Complexity …. the last resort of the scoundrel!

      Q1. What was the name given to the last set of Scoundrels that wasted the wealth of the UK?

      Q2. Who led them?

      Q3. Who is now tearing away at Complexity and simplifying everything s/he sets eyes upon?

      Q4. What hope have they of producing any positive result?

      • BuBBleBus

        The reported errors include the evaluation of risk. Reminds me of the fiasco with the banks who got their risk models so completely wrong they started the credit crunch. While it is useful to bring risk into financial calculation, it is a double-edged sword that gives lawyers much scope for arguing with the “experts”. Better keep these contracts simple.

        • ScaryBiscuits

          They didn’t get their models wrong. They knew exactly what they were doing, that by the time the crunch came they would have bagged enough cash for it not to matter to them personally if the bank went bust and that the govt would probably bail them out anyway as it has done everytime before.
          The underlying problem with both the banks and the railways is the govt guarantee, which is a licence for senior management to behave irresponsibly.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      The real problem is that the people running the models have no flesh in the game. They have become like bankers. If their speculations go well, they get a bonus. If it goes bust, the taxpayer bails them out and they still get a bonus.
      We really need to get the state out of the game of running and building new railways and have more private involvement. It is shocking that although most people believe the railways are privatised, actually the franchised rail operators are really no more than micro-managed sub-contractors running the officials’ train set.

  • FF42

    I understand the main issue is that First Group’s payments to the Treasury were heavily biased to the end of the contract and were considerably greater than their deposit against breaking the contract. The temptation would be to walk away just before the end of the contract after years of profits but before paying the licence fee.

    I guess they owned up no because they have a good idea of what would come in court. I actually was surprised that Richard Branson should challenge the award of a contract for offering too much money to the Government. But he has been vindicated.

    • FF42

      I think what has happened is that staff managing the bid were incentivised to deliver the biggest possible payments to the Government. So they came up with a scheme that appeared to do so but didn’t care that the payments were essentially bogus.

      • TomTom

        Incentivised……but I doubt it was by the Government

        • FF42

          I wouldn’t be so sure of the distinction. Ministers would have signed up to the general principle. The political imperative was to stop tomorrow’s court case going ahead.This suggests there was something really embarrassing that Patrick McLoughlin wanted to keep under wraps.

          • ScaryBiscuits

            Too cynical. The facts we know are bad enough.

  • salieri

    No resignation, no apology, no carrying the can – right or wrong – for one’s own department. So the very concept of ministerial responsibility, tarnished by 13 years of ‘One Nation Labour’ mismanagement, has now been erased for ever. Does anyone still remember truly honourable ministers like Lord Carrington?

    • IRISHBOY

      Well, Carrington was honourable in as much as he resigned, but not at all honourable in any of his actions as Foreign Secretary. He rightly went after the Argies correctly read the signals the FO was sending and Garrett Fitzgerald, when he was the new Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, said that the first thing Carrington said to him was ‘Well, Gerald how are we going to get a United Ireland’, which was a notion Fitzgerald never entertained.

  • James102

    This illustrates the point I made during the G4S problem: our public sector officials are just not suitable when it comes to project management and design.

    • telemachus

      No James
      What this illustrates is that the custodianship of the Nation has moved from Rupert Murdoch to Richard Branson

      • James102

        In your unbiased opinion?
        We need to see civil servants questioned by committees in the same way as directors of companies. We also need to know about their background.
        What is really needed is more movement between the public and private sector, this would include teachers who also come from too narrow a background. Then we have our political class…

        • dalai guevara

          No, we simply need the rule of law applied when the law should rule. I am sick and tired of yet more inquiries. I believe in God, I wish to see the bible come out for these people, not any of this Tucker chit chat – and I am not talking about the chap in ‘In The Thick Of It Opposition’.

      • Dimoto

        On this, you are spot on Tele.
        It reeks of crony capitalism.
        We condemn Goodwin’s and Murdoch’s “undue influence”, but turn a blind eye to that cuddly (!) serial government backside sniffer and ace-manipulator Branson.

        • dalai guevara

          Don’t blame private enterprise of being ‘driven’. That would be nonsense and would make you appear like a socialist slacker.

          What we need to remind ourselves of in this instance, is that the tradition of an honourable and committed civil servant is based on Prussian tradition. We have not fully understood what that means.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      My view is that the DfT, like many other govt departments, has become overly politicised, and officials have become used to producing numbers that achieve the desired political outcome (e.g. HS2). This lack of rigour has then seeped into all their decision making where they now routinely do what they like and feed the ministerial team nonsense numbers. They were only forced to come clean on this example because of the court case. If it hadn’t been for that, the new Secretary of State would never have known.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-Hill/100000917822376 Iain Hill

        It is becoming sadly inescapable that there is no effective opposition either in parliament or elsewhere in the political system. It is only when the victims go to court that the truth is revealed.

        We must beware the recurring tendency by all political parties to limit the courts’ interventions in the name of so called electoral “democracy”. It is too often only the courts that provide effective remedies for governmental misdeeds.

    • George_Arseborne

      No the government is grossly incompetence in managing this Great Nation. That is just the simple truth, stop rambling by blaming public sector workers.

    • dalai guevara

      James
      What are you insinuating, that we live in Text Message Britain?

  • John Steed

    Hum. It does leave a large question-mark overJustine Greening and her alleged competency with numbers.

  • John Steed

    Hum. It does leave a large question-mark overJustine Greening and her alleged competency with numbers.

    • DavidDP

      Oh don’t be silly. As if the SoS sits there with a calculator performing all the analysis for the bids.
      That’s the purview of officials. Shocking incompetence, it must be said.

      • John Steed

        No of course the SofS doesn’t do the detailed analysis. But there were some pretty fundamental cost questions which should rightly have been discussed by Ministers. Simply blaming officials in this case is too easy.

        • James102

          Why? These are the professionals ,and very highly paid ones at that. Our political class rarely has senior business experience, which makes it even more important that some of our senior public sector officials do.
          Less emphasis on having a statistically valid cross section of the community in place and more on competence.

        • ScaryBiscuits

          If you read the news reports, you’ll see that the new Secretary of State did ask questions and was initially given flannel for responses. It is likely that he would never have found the truth if it hadn’t been for the court case meaning that the Civil Servants had nowhere to hide. Likewise, Greening and Villiers did ask and were given assurances that the analysis was robust but if their Civil Servants lie to them there is not much more they can do. We can’t expect ministers to be expert analysts. It is therefore entirely right that some officials have been suspended today and let us hope that they are actually sacked too. It would be about time.

          • TomTom

            Kate Mingay, Executove Director of Goldman Sachs and MBA from London Business School…………well, I don;t suppose she understood what she was doing then……?

            • ScaryBiscuits

              That’s the whole point; ministers aren’t supposed to be experts in their department: permanent officials are. Ministers are there to give strategic direction, not to audit spreadsheets.

      • TomTom

        Like the incompetence that saw 250 MoD Officials walk into private sector contractor jobs last year !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-Hill/100000917822376 Iain Hill

    Do we believe this account? The inquiry needs to uncover whether ministers intervened to favour the American bid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-Hill/100000917822376 Iain Hill

    Do we believe this account? The inquiry needs to uncover whether ministers intervened to favour the American bid.

  • Impartial observer

    Please, dear readers, tell me something this Coalition has done right?

  • Impartial observer

    Please, dear readers, tell me something this Coalition has done right?

    • Dr Ojedokun

      Cock Up obviously….

    • LondonStatto

      Stopped Ed Balls completely destroying the economy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/amergin.selby Amergin Selby

        Naaah! That doesn’t work. Sorry. Try harder..

    • dorothy wilson

      And what did the last Labour government do right? Lied over the Iraq War. Developed an economy based on credit? Increased spending on schools whilst the pupils’ achievement levels plummeted down the international comparison list? Sold our gold at the bottom of the market thus costing us somewhere in the region of £12bn? And all the rest!

  • martinvickers

    Remarkable, though not doubt entirely co-incidental, that this appears to be but the latest in a steady stream of serious cock-ups since the Coalition came into office. Clearly entirely, entirely the fault of civil servants. No possibility that it’s indicative of sloppy Government. No, none at all…

    • dorothy wilson

      And were all the serious “cock-ups” under Labour not indicative of “sloppy government”?

      • martinvickers

        Yes, they were. But they didn’t come in such a torrent of U-turns; nor such open contempt for the idea of ministerial responsibility. McLoughlin is not responsible for this; but Greening is. It was her watch, and ‘blaming the servants’ is going to come back to bite them. Hard.

        • Nicholas

          You are joking. The reasons they didn’t U-turn as much were:-

          a) They were a nasty authoritarian bunch who insisted they always knew best
          b) They manipulated the media much more skilfully
          c) They were not facing the same level of ideological opposition from Labour’s fellow travellers and stay behind parties in government that the Coalition faces on almost every single issue.

          As for ministerial responsibility I lost count of the number of New Labour ministers implicated in scandals and who resolutely refused to resign. Brazen. But then I suppose that is the same shamelessness that lets them promote “Rebuilding Britain” as a slogan and expect to be taken seriously.

        • http://twitter.com/FrenchNewsonlin FrenchNews

          Errr go no further than the light touch regulation of the City lauded and pursued by Brown and Labour and the path this paved for every crook in Christendom, disguised as financiers, to up sticks for London. US Justice proceedings to date have shown that the financial thugs who destroyed the global economy worked their scams and scandals through London whenever they were blocked by US regulation. Labour wasn’t ‘sloppy’ it could, if there was a committed legal team out there, almost certainly be shown to be criminally negligent and complicit. Brown,Blair and Balls should be in jail along with their banker friends.

        • http://twitter.com/FrenchNewsonlin FrenchNews

          Errr go no further than the light touch regulation of the City lauded and pursued by Brown and Labour and the path this paved for every crook in Christendom, disguised as financiers, to up sticks for London. US Justice proceedings to date have shown that the financial thugs who destroyed the global economy worked their scams and scandals through London whenever they were blocked by US regulation. Labour wasn’t ‘sloppy’ it could, if there was a committed legal team out there, almost certainly be shown to be criminally negligent and complicit. Brown,Blair and Balls should be in jail along with their banker friends.

      • TomTom

        No – Corruption

        • Scrapper

          If it was Corruption, then this would not see the light of day, we would not have a Minister admitting to mistakes, instead it would be hidden and the back-handers would continue. Unless of course you are a conspiracy theorist and say the show of honesty by the Minister is a sham.

          • http://twitter.com/FrenchNewsonlin FrenchNews

            It was about to come to court where the mistakes would most certainly have been disclosed, clearly fast footwork was needed. Whether there was corruption is a matter for further digging.

            • TomTom

              Branson has seen it before – on the National Lottery for instance

              • TomTom

                Guy Snowden and GTech 1998

          • TomTom

            Corruption cannot always be hidden especially when lawyers scent blood. Damage limitation is in action

    • HooksLaw

      You talk rubbish. The level of incompetence by Blair Brown and Balls was monumental. This is an issue for the civil service.

      • TomTom

        There is no Incompetence – it is Corruption

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