The British bureaucracy is supposed to operate with the abilities of a brand new Rolls Royce. The Covid-19 crisis, however, has shown it is like a rusty old Soviet Trabant.
At almost every turn, from Public Health England’s failure to ramp up testing early in the crisis to Whitehall’s struggles procuring and personal protective equipment, the bureaucracy has failed the biggest challenge of our lifetime. In contrast, the Asian tigers like Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, or even Germany, Austria, Israel and Australia, have excelled.
The UK is now facing the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe, and among the highest in the world. This raises serious questions about the advice provided by the bureaucracy and the extent of preparedness for pandemics. More broadly, it points to fundamental flaws in Britain's highly centralised systems of public administration.
The ASI’s latest webinar assembles an expert panel to understand the failings and potential solutions to improve how Britain is governed:
Matthew Lesh is the Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, where he has written extensively about governance failings in responding to Covid-19. He holds an MSc in Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics. (Host)
The Rt Hon David Davis MP is a Member of Parliament and former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, he has also served as Chairman of the Conservative Party and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Douglas Carswell is the co-director of the Good Governance Project, a former Member of Parliament and co-found Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign. He has written various books and papers on public policy issues.
Dr. Chris O’Leary is the Deputy Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is also a Senior Lecturer. PERU evaluates policy design and delivery and researches public sector reform.