28 September 2008

Leading from the front

Government should lead. Our government does not lead. It follows. It follows public opinion. You might think that is good. It is not. If you ask the public what it wants you will get different answers. The answers will depend on how you ask the question, when you ask it, which members of the public you ask and sundry other variables. The people you ask may not have thought much about the question so you may not get an informed answer. But that has never stopped this government consulting silly focus groups. People, who have never had a day's illness in their lives, are asked how health care should be organised. They simply don't know. They cannot be expected to know. It is not a criticism of them. It is a criticism of our government which seems to think that this technique is the way to win favour at the ballot box. It is not. And that is becoming patently obvious.

The principle applies to other aspects of government policy. For example, if you ask the public whether suspected terrorists should be locked up for 42 days you will get a yes answer. If you ask the public whether it is acceptable that somebody who might be innocent should be locked up for 42 days you will get a no answer. That anyway is what Dr Grumble suspects. It is not a way to formulate a sensible policy. And that is why we have this terrible law wending its way to the statute books. Dr Grumble thinks it is bad, his ennobled blogging colleagues think it is bad, even Stella Rimmington thinks it is bad. But the government goes blundering on.

Meanwhile intrepid Dr Grumble faces the threat of regulation of his blog by EU bureaucrats. One blog has gone already. What have they to fear from bloggers? On reflection maybe quite a lot.

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