The Great Debate UK

Why big government is bad government


jill-kirby-Jill Kirby is author of “The Reality Gap” and director of the Centre for Policy Studies. The opinions expressed are her own. -

In the midst of an economic crisis, we have a crisis of trust in politicians. But it is not through their lack of activity. Over the last ten years, layers of government have multiplied, more regulatory bodies have been put in place, thousands of new laws have been passed and greater powers of surveillance have been accorded to the State.

Yet as government activism has increased, so public confidence has fallen. High levels of regulation co-exist with extreme regulatory failure. From the banking crisis to Baby P, Labour had introduced elaborate new systems of governance which, far from preventing disaster, appears to have contributed.

How has government become so big and yet so ineffective? Five techniques have been used to disguise failure as success. First, moving goalposts – changing the criteria for measurement. In the dilution of education standards, in the selective us of targets and statistics, in the manipulation of public finances and Gordon Brown’s flexible use of the so-called Golden Rules, the Government has relied on bending the rules of the game in order to claim success.