Tag Archives: democracy

What has a £900,000 paint job got to do with democratic accountability?

The Voyager transport aircraft, tasked with flying senior ministers to global events and summits, will be repainted at a cost of £900,000.

This doesn’t sound like just a routine maintenance repaint to me. A normal paint job is £100k, it sounds like it simply doesn’t need doing at all. There’s a lot that is unclear about what exactly this contract covers, however, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said of the decision to repaint the jet from its standard grey:

“The £900,000 cost incorporates the cost of creating a design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role. Voyager can better represent the UK around the world with national branding. All of the work has been done in the UK.”
And that’s the rub from a public and democratic accountability viewpoint: contracts are usually opaque and are harder to scrutinise. Conservatives argue that contract law is robust to deal with things, but there is an issue here as to how much of what used to be publicly accountable is now hidden behind contracts and “commercially sensitive confidentiality”.
This is the case with the ‘track and trace” app and service where millions of pounds have been spent with little accountability and no democratic transparency, only to be scrapped and open-source alternative being investigated.
It’s also of major significance in the London borough of Barnet where the council has contracted out EVERY SINGLE FUNCTION of the council to ONE company: Capita. Where there was once democratic accountability now there is commercial secrecy.
I could list more: the NHS, local health authorities, many functions of government and local authorities, public transport……. and public money is being paid to companies who make a great profit with no accountability: no one can vote out Capita at the next local election. And no one knows the true extent of vested interests when they are hidden behind such enormous veils.

‎”The root of socialism is democracy, and only a society that is truly democratic could also become truly socialist.”

‘Socialism? Socialism is a democratic idea. The most socialist thing we ever did was the most popular thing we ever did, the NHS.’

“It is a social-ism. It’s about trying to construct a society round production from need and not just for profit! Around meeting people’s needs, that’s what it’s about!”

“I regard democracy as the most radical and revolutionary idea of our time. The powers that rule us talk about it. But they resist it with all the wiles and techniques at their command. ”

(of the current recession) “In this sense the present economic crisis is actually a crisis of democracy as the market has taken from parliament the power to shape the policy of the nation. Elected leaders, such as George Bush and the prime minister, have been left the role of commentators on the crisis and suppliers of endless cash in an attempt to save a system that failed us.”

“It used to be clear that the ruling classes had the wealth, authority and power while those underneath did not. This started to change when the right to appoint our rulers moved from the wallet to the ballot. Now they are doing everything they can to preserve their power. This is why democratic rights and civil liberties are so important and essential. We must now preserve our right to speak, to assemble, to organise, to move around freely and protect our identity, and not become crushed by the state.”

“Democracy is not just voting every 5 years and watching ‘Big Brother’ in between and wondering why nothing happens. Democracy is what we do and say where we live and work”

“It seems to me that the most powerful religion of all, much more powerful than Christianity, Judaism, Islam and so on, is the people who worship ….money! That is really the most powerful religion and the banks are bigger than the cathedrals, the headquarters of the multinaional companies are bigger than the mosques or the synagogues. Every hour on the news we have the business news?! Every hour! It’s a sort of hymn to capitalism….the idea that money is what it is all about!……and with it comes this extra ordinary cult of management consultants.”