PFI (Private Financial Initiative) was originally started by Conservative PM John Major and condemned by the then opposition ministers in the Labour party. When Labour were subsequently elected in 1997 , we might be entitled to think it would be nipped in the bud but in fact it wasn’t , it was expanded and now our health service is in crisis over it. Sadly , this crisis is likely to be a defining moment in the survival of the NHS as we know it. The recent push by the present government is clearly towards privatisation and it would be difficult to envisage the NHS to survive both these threats. This is a perfect example of my theory that the opposing parties in competition to become the government are merely two sides of the same coin.
However, my inspiration for this post is actually a piece in today’s Telegraph by Andrew Gilligan in which he describes the relationship between former top brass military figures , weapons manufacturers and the access to government contacts. Here’s a description of one of our more recent Naval deals:
“One of the most heavily criticised recent contracts is for the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers. These will cost taxpayers more than £6 billion, even though one will be immediately mothballed and the other will carry no aircraft until 2020. At least four top officers and ministers involved – including the heads of the Navy and the RAF, the vice-chief of the defence staff, and the defence procurement minister, Baroness Taylor – went on to join companies involved.”
Now for an even more ludicrous or even criminal deal:
“Then there is the contract dubbed the “worst deal in history”: to give the Air Force 14 new Airbus A330 transport/tanker aircraft. Bought by a civilian airline, A330s cost as little as £85 million each, or £1.2 billion for 14. But the MoD is paying £10.5 billion – for aircraft it will not even own, but lease. Nor did the price include standard military fitments such as flight-deck armour, meaning that the jets were unable to fly into any war zone.”
I’m not well educated and have no outstanding grades from my school days but even without the use of a calculator I can deduce that whoever signed for the Airbus deal is either stupid or has been paid excessive amounts of money into discreet bank account. I’ll try to find out.
I’ve just discovered that the contract to refit these aircraft has very recently been moved to Spain , resulting in around 300 job losses at Cobham, Bournemouth. If people would stop watching the soaps and x factor type rubbish on TV maybe we would have a more vociferous public response to these kinds of problems.
On the 11th May 2012 Philip Hammond , the Defence Secretary was reported as saying he would look in to the costs of the Airbus deal personally. I am unable to find out any any conclusions to this intervention.