Why I write: calculators and cake

I used to work in the central government sector, looking at public policies in their broadest sense, and evaluating what was likely to happen, what was going on and what had happened.

Many policies get rushed through because something must be done when quite often it would be better to just do nothing or even just keep doing what we are already doing.


Those latter two usually don’t get a look-in, so there isn’t even a way of working out what might have happened anyway.  If things go right, claim the credit. If things go bad, blame it on what was inherited from the previous administration… hardly a good approach for ensuring sustainable societal benefits.

So why is this important? The events of the last few days – revelations around expenses and alleged alcohol-fuelled bad behaviour in Westminster show that we really do care about politics – even if we might not have a high opinion of politicians. They vote on things that affect our daily lives, so it’s right that we should care.

But do they care enough? The late Robin Cook said that:

Good scrutiny makes for good Government.

And he believed in it so much that he resigned over Iraq. Even the inscription on his headstone is about Parliament’s right to decide on going to war.

What does this have to do with me? Well, I used to produce minutes, briefings, papers, analysis, reports… the whole gamut of what was asked for and often what should have been asked for. At best, but rarely, it was used in full. But most times I came home feeling that I had done a good job for myself without any meaningful public benefit. So here I am, able to offer two things:

  • number crunching with my calculator, spreadsheet or cool computer tools; and
  • some CAKE  – cumulative acquired knowledge and experience – (as a former manager used to call it ) from various jobs in a few different places.

And I have already found a candidate for a bit of analysis.

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