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December 13, 2011 / trajsingh

Laboratory UK

Is it just me, or are Britons feeling a little like lab rats these days? It seems like the UK has become a huge laboratory for testing big ideas, and how far they can be pushed.

Consider some big things:

  • The government votes ‘no’ on a European treaty, potentially isolating the country, with unknown longer term implications (good and bad, no doubt).
  • The coalition decided on a hugely austere budget, taking the approach of cutting the budget and raising taxes, rather than supporting the economy (cf. 1929 etc.)

And some smaller things:

  • Backing a scandinavian-born initiative for radically overhauling the education system
  • The Gross Happiness Index advocated by Cameron
  • Maintaining a 50% tax band, and creating a 20% (temporary) VAT rate

It has been this exciting for donkey’s years. I just hope that someone in power has at least some notion of how this all might turn out. My friend and colleague Bruno always likes to say that “Public Service Innovation” is an oxymoron (before going on to explain why it isn’t) and the  policies and actions of the current UK government would seem to bear him out.

I’ve always maintained that as animals we humans are not good at determining cause and effect, unless the effect happens pretty much immediately after the cause (ow, that stove is hot!). When there is a lag of potentially decades (cf. climate change), all bets are off. Add to that the realization that none of the current group of politicos will be in power at that time, and the bogglingly huge number of variables involved, and there is no way we will ever know for sure whether these are the right moves or not.

I prefer my government to be slow, plodding and consultative. But even I admit that this current frenetic style of politics is, at the least, very exciting.

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