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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

This sums things up perfectly

I saw this in Saturday's Guardian. It reminds me of Tom Lehrer's comment that satire died when they gave Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.

Never mind the results, does it work in theory?

Simon Hoggart, The Guardian, Saturday July 2, 2005

Dr Jennie Blackwell, speaking at the British Medical Association's conference this week, told the health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, that the government's obsession with targets was making hospitals look like war zones, "with patients strewn all over the place".

This, she implied, was the result of patient care taking second place to the need to get the right numbers in the right boxes.

Ms Hewitt replied that she would not "resile" from targets, adding that "they are helping to achieve much needed improvements in services".

It was a very New Labour moment, one in which reality assaults intention, when the policy wonks and the think-tanks crash up against what is actually happening.
I was reminded of the no doubt apocryphal Treasury mandarin complaining: "It's all very well saying that it works in practice. But does it work in theory?"

Or, as I increasingly think when I see the government lamely defending yet another ambitious but failed scheme - the lifetime learning account, the CSA, the family tax credit shambles, Asbos, and, soon to come, ID cards - we ought to hear again from Groucho Marx: "Who are you going to believe? Me, or the evidence of your own eyes?"


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