Break It—Blame It— Sell It?

Published: Thursday, 06 October 2016

REGARDING your editorial: 'Undisclosed Agenda'. I've been long humming a little mantra to myself which I think sums up the long-term approach to much of our national infrastructure and service provision: Break It—Blame It—Sell It, writes Andrew Bailes.

It's being tried on the NHS (the ‘7 day' myth), with the return of Grammar Schools and the inevitable consequent decline in LEA results and retention, and was successfully used to nationalise the railways.

Sell it off

First make it patently obvious to all that 'nationalisation' doesn't work/can't be afforded and then sell it off at a bargain price to your friends. All being well, on retirement, you'll get a place on the board or at least a consultancy role.

My assumption upon the movement from a nationalised British Waterways to a charitable Trust was that this was the same policy being introduced by the back door.

Built to fail

The Trust was, to my mind, built to fail. With its ever-decreasing grant from Government, over-optimistic estimates of charitable income, with the baffling oversight that ignores boaters as a ‘constituency' and the well-documented failures of maintenance.

It can't be that long before the profitable parts of the ‘business' are hived off to provide private income (and maybe a brief cash injection for a ‘rump' waterways organisation of some sort that will manage their decline to cycle-paths and linear duckponds, shiny wet views for apartment grandstands and corporate HQs). Perhaps a few touristic canals could be preserved for marina boaters and tour boats and hirers. At least this way something could be ‘rescued' from the inevitable failure of an uneconomic and frankly nineteenth-century proposition.