Posts Tagged ‘wargames’

Westminster wargames and what we don’t know

23/07/2014, 09:27:07 AM

by David Butler

Dominic Cummings, Gove’s former SpAd, has been compulsive and compelling reading ever since his essay ‘Some thoughts on education and political priorities’ sparked controversy last October. His blogposts are rich with challenging material and thinking, unlike much of the noise in politics today. The other day, he released an Autumn 2010 Westminster wargame considering the potential dynamics of this current Parliament, setting out what the Cameroons wanted and thought would happen and what they didn’t.

The wargame covered seventeen categories, from macroeconomics to free schools, and from coalition politics to international terrorism. What the Cameroons wanted and thought would happen were generally on the lines of a Britain rejuvenated, a quiet world and the end of anti-politics. The opposite was a fragmented Coalition, economic decline and a conflict-ridden world.

The Cameroons were correct, on balance, in nine of the seventeen categories. The economy is (finally) growing and the cuts are seen as necessary with strikes manageable. Cuts to policing have not resulted in rising crime, although the police are still in need of reform.  On education, as I wrote the other day, Gove succeeded in expanding academies and implementing reforms to improve behaviour and standards. The Liberal Democrats did indeed lose the AV referendum but didn’t threaten the integrity of Coalition in the aftermath. The Lib Dems have not fractured and whilst the Tory grassroots are noisy over Europe, they haven’t abandoned Cameron. The Olympics were a resounding success, despite the issues with the legacy of the project. Civil liberties haven’t really been ‘restored’ but there has been a welcome absence of terrorism. The City of London remains a major financial centre despite the LIBOR scandal.

However, they were wrong in seven of the seventeen categories. On welfare, IDS’s reforms have failed to change incentives to work much. Immigration has not been limited (as it is mostly driven by the EU) and UKIP have benefitted from it. The EU has been a major issue within Westminster due to UKIP’s success. There have been significant international conflicts and the Arab Spring was the foreign policy black swan of the past decade. Health reforms are a mess, whilst the civil service have blocked reforms (which was the rumoured trigger for Sir Bob Kerslake’s departure). Finally, anti-politics is on the rise, with UKIP the main beneficiary.


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