On the back of Stephen Glover's article in the Daily Mail, Tim Montgomerie at ConservativeHome has an interesting piece about changing the way our politicians interact with the state. He cites Maude's Law, which lays down that
good policy is 10% brainwave, 10% idea development and 80% implementation
This is a crucial realisation that deserves publicising to those at the helm of the State. No matter how good your idea is, if you don't have the requisite tools to implement it, it is likely to be doomed to fail.
In the case of the British State, if you have Ministers overseeing vast departments, directly supervising scores of agencies, quangos and other bodies and individually responsible for a mind-boggling range of responsibilities, of course you will run into problems. The problem is arguably exacerbated by Ministers being moved helter skelter from one department to another without the time to build up sector-specific expertise, but some Ministerial positions are beyond the capabilities of any one human being, no matter how experienced.
This argument does not, of course, excuse the bad policies which are all too common, but if we are ever to get services running properly and save taxpayers' money we must recognise that the current system is liable to bog down a lot of good ideas, too. The current failure is a mixture of bad ideas foundering on their own lack of merit and good ideas being sabotaged by the fundamentally flawed structure of the public sector.
It's no good just changing the set of politicians and the set of policies - to get the job done, the state must be properly set up and the practitioners must have the right tools.