The Labour Party – procurement manifesto for 2015 (part 1)

Last week we featured the leaked documents concerning the Conservative Party procurement review and manifesto for the 2015 election. Well, the Labour Party special advisers (SPADs) proved just as susceptible to drink, flattery and blackmail, so this week we have their equivalent. Again, we will start with the review of the current parliament, then move onto the forward looking manifesto for 2015-20. This report appears to have been produced by a group of young Labour SPADs (all from top public schools and Oxbridge of course).  


Using government spend to drive a fairer society

Comrades and Brothers,

Our non-hierarchical, gender and race diverse team is pleased to present our analysis of government procurement and how it can play a part in ensuring the election of a Labour Government in 2015.

Part 1 – Criticising the government, 2010-15

In terms of attacking the Coalition track record on procurement, unfortunately, and with a few exceptions, we have provided limited real opposition during the last five years to many of the government's actions and policies on that front.

For instance, we could have opposed the centralising tendencies of Francis Maude and Cabinet Office, pointing out the negative effect on small and local businesses. We could have supported the civil service when the Prime Minister called public procurement staff "enemies of enterprise" - but we were fearful of being seen to be supporting the "bureaucrats".

In other areas though, our other traditional interests made it hard for us to oppose effectively. We could hardly side with big business when rhetoric about firms ripping off government got over exaggerated. So we are left with some catching up to do in our manifesto and election campaign.

However, it is never too late to start the attack. We should emphasise the centralising, ‘big government’ moves that have been taken in procurement (and indeed elsewhere) - particularly as that fits a key forward looking theme (see part 2). We should paint Maude as a control freak (and multi-millionaire of course) who has created a 'huge, inefficient central bureaucracy' in the Crown Commercial Service, and is less transparent about his own department’s activities and cost base than he expects others to be. We should stress the costs of the new organisation, implementation delays, and we should find some small firms who have lost out on work once their public sector clients were forced into using huge central contracts (ConsultancyOne, CLone, etc).

We should also query the "savings" declared. Our line should be simply that "savings aren't real”. Despite NAO support, no-one believes government data anyway, so we should use two arguments. Firstly, many of the savings aren't identified or properly verified, and secondly, we should say that of course, if you lose 30 % of your staff, then you buy fewer pencils! (However, the government’s staff reductions in the civil service do of course play well with the vast majority of voters).

We can point out that there has been no serious effort to develop commercial skills, rather we have had Ministers, even the Prime Minister, simply and unfairly attacking civil servants whenever things go wrong. Meanwhile training budgets have been slashed. The Commissioning Academy graduates to date wouldn't fill a single Double Decker bus - this is supposed to miraculously transform the commercial capability of the civil service. We need to expose these claims for what they are.

And the result has been a whole series of high profile failures. West Coast Rail, G4S and Serco scandals, MOD GoCo collapse, wasted money in the health service – the list goes on. We need to firmly blame these failings on Ministers for providing lack of resources and training rather than on the civil service.

Finally, we should link the growth in executive salaries to government contracts. Pointing out that although Maude has talked tough about suppliers, on average, the CEO’s salary in the top 30 government suppliers has risen over 50% in the last 5 years (nb further research needed here) is a powerful line that again supports our wider positioning.


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First Voice

  1. Sam Unkim:

    And “Oh Yeah, we should admit that dumping NHS purchasing, into the canal, has destroyed any faith NHS staff had in future labour procurement policies”

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