James Forsyth

An efficient response 

An efficient response 
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Both parties want to be seen as the party of public sector efficiency. The Tories want to be able to show that they can do more with less and that cuts therefore need not mean worse services. While Labour wants to contrast their supposedly ‘smart cuts’ with the Tories’ ‘hatchet approach.’  

So, this morning we had Gordon Brown delivering a speech outlining how the government would save £12 billion over the next three years; many of the policies he proposed were rather familiar to those of us who have been listening to the Tories on this subject.  The Tories then tried to trump Brown’s speech by announcing the formation of a Public Services Productivity Advisory Board.

The members of the board are, as Ben Brogan notes, an impressive lot and it is striking that Bernard Gray, who wrote the recent review of the MoD’s procurement procedures, has stepped down from that role to advise the Tories. The Tories are also delighted that Sir Peter Gershorn, who led Brown’s 2004 efficiency review, and Martin Read, who did the Treasury’s recent operational efficiency review, are joining the board.

The Tories’ ability to put together such a high powered board to advise them is evidence that the establishment are still expecting a Tory victory. The timing of the announcement, also suggests that the Tories had done their political planning, something which is not always the case, and were ready for Brown’s attempt to raid this territory.