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The Guardian: " 'The Blunders of our Governments', by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe – review"

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"This book will make you gasp in disbelief and stamp your feet in rage, and quite frequently reduce you to helpless laughter. It will also make you tremble in terror at the realisation that the people in charge of our destinies are, in many respects, idiots.

"With clarity, elegance and wit, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe recall the most egregious blunders committed by British governments over the last three decades. Some of them are widely remembered, such as the poll tax, the Millennium Dome and membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, others almost forgotten, such as individual learning accounts and the Assets Recovery Agency.

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"A few, such as Labour's comically bungled distribution of European Union subsidies to British farmers under a new 'single payment' scheme, were scarcely noticed even at the time. In all these instances, ministers failed wholly to achieve the outcome they intended; sometimes they achieved the opposite. They also, in several cases, wasted billions of pounds of public money and did great damage, sometimes lethal damage, to the people they were supposedly trying to help.

"... King and Crewe reckon that Labour and Tory governments are equally prone to cockups. In a postscript, they judge the coalition, with its start-stop-start NHS reforms, its misallocated franchise award for the West Coast mainline, its aborted plan to sell off forests, its malfunctioning disability assessments, and so on, to be 'if anything … even more blunder-prone than its predecessors'.

"And they note that private-sector companies also blunder: think of the banks in the runup to the 2008 crisis or BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We mock governments for their IT disasters, to which King and Crewe devote a chapter, but similar fiascos have bankrupted private companies."

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