The (ir)responsibility of politicians

This long article is about the crisis in prisons. But the last four paragraphs quoted here could be about anything that is the responsibility of politicians:

“Who allowed this systematic irresponsibility? Civil servants could no doubt have been more robust in their advice. But the truth is that Grayling and Gove [and here add names of other ministers] at least did not broach any challenge. Any senior officials that they felt were obstructing their plans or raising awkward questions were edged out. It’s tough to push back when your job is at stake.

No doubt some governors and prison officers could have done more to raise problems and find solutions – but most of them had crises to manage.

The only conclusion I can really draw is that the blame lies with the politicians. They cut prison budgets without having a good understanding of the likely impact, then carried on cutting long after those consequences were clear. They focused on pet projects rather than getting the basics right.

They were supported in doing so from the very top. Cameron and Osborne [and now May and Hammond] made the call that people didn’t much care about the condition of our prisons [hospitals/schools/environment], and if budgets were to be cut this was a place to cut particularly deeply. They ignored signs that the system was creaking, and forgot that changing your justice secretary [or any minister except Hunt where no-one wanted his job] every 18 months is a sure-fire way to create problems. Most important, they forgot that there is no better symbol that government is out of control than riots [bed shortages/failing schools/concrete jungles] within the facilities they are meant to run.”