Voting fiasco – a metaphor for a dysfunctional government

The bad farce which characterised the inability to register votes at so many places round the country using a tried and trusted method is a national disgrace and embarrassment.   Britain used to rule the waves and much of the world besides; now we can’t even organise a simple election.  What must the rest of the world think of this mess?   To me this is the perfect metaphor for the dysfunctional state our government generally.

It’s not even as if the turnout was particularly high by historical standards; to the extent it was up a bit that possibility was well signposted in the days before the vote.   Moreover, with record numbers of postal votes the task on the day was that much easier even in the face of a high poll.

No doubt some will call for automation of polling but that is NOT a good idea.  Remember Florida!   Also automated systems can be hacked and who would ever know?  After George W Bush won his second term there were all sorts of rumours floating round the US about some very strange results.  At least with our traditional system it’s all out in the open so that democracy is not only done, but is seen to be done and that consideration trumps all alleged cost or time savings.    No, the difficulty is with government’s seeming inability to manage the proverbial party in a brewery and automation won’t change that.

And if government is so inept at easy things, tasks that it regularly undertakes, what hope is there for more difficult things – like, for example, digging us out of this enormous economic hole we’re in?  My experience in business tells me that when an organisation has lost the plot strategically and has lost control of its cost base then it also looses the ability to get even the simple things right.   That’s what I think is going on here and the uncomfortable truth is that unless government learns to do very much better very fast it will hamstring all and any plans we might have for recovery, irrespective of governing party. 

In short, this debacle is a canary in the government mine – a very dead canary.  We should take note.

By the way exactly what does the Electoral Commission contribute to the process?  What does it cost?  Why do we need it?


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