The PPP is the scandal no one noticed

One could hardly write the script as fiction. On the very day that Gordon Brown is teetering on the edge of oblivion and the House of Lords, one of his cherished projects, the London Underground PPP is breathing its last. The news that Transport for London is going to be taking over Tube Lines and running the contracts to maintain the Tube leaked out on the very day that voters were going to the polls. Since Metronet has already gone to join Railtrack, various franchises and the Strategic Rail Authority in the big dustbin of failed organisations, the demise of Tube Lines effectively means that the PPP joins this infamous group.

As I have mentioned many times before, this is a great scandal that has attracted little attention because it is so complex that neither journalists nor their readers can be bothered to examine it closely. Yet, not only did it cost north of £500m in consultancies and fees to set up, but it was right from the outset an unworkable arrangement. As I wrote in my book, Down the Tube, it was not even really a partnership, and was just a clever scheme designed to give the private sector control over a public sector project financed by huge amounts of taxpayers; money.  It is an added irony is that one of its opponents, whom I quote in the book, Susan Kramer, lost her seat in Richmond at the election.

The real scandal is that Gordon Brown has never been called to account for his insistence on pushing through the doomed scheme and never will. Sure the bill of several billion pales into insignificance when compared with the banking mess which he helped create, but nevertheless if we had a more effective democracy, Brown would have been made to pay for his errors over the PPP.

  • John

    I wonder if it is hasty to assume that closing down Tubelines will mean that everything will be fixed. If London Transport takes the work in house then that organisation will need staff with the skills to procure and manage contracts. Those people, the grafters rather than the credit-takers, are difficult to find and to put in post. Meanwhile the staff, suppliers, organisational arrangements that Tubelines have in place, are affected. I hope it all works out….

  • Captain Deltic

    Well, you could have raised higher profile objections since Down the Tube was the only published material that got anywhere close to explaining the bonkers structure.

    No staying power these young people, I don’t know, You have to keep banging on about a scandal if you want to expose it. IEP refers.

  • R.O’Connor

    ‘the banking mess which he helped create’,

    Oh really,you know that do you? Might I suggest that you report on rail matters and leave the politics to other more informed commentators

  • RapidAssistant

    Off topic again (my apologies) but might I add that the banking mess was in effect something which we ALL have helped create…..when the economy was booming there probably aren’t many people in the developed world who didn’t directly or indirectly benefit out of the easy availability of credit (myself included)….blaming it on politicians and bankers alone is way too simplistic.

    I’m sure a lot of the people now criticising their actions were quite happy to benefit from all that cheap debt without caring one hoot about where the money was coming from. And kept on voting for said politicians who were quite happy to let it go on until the bubble inevitably burst.

    Perhaps if we all realised this from now on and stop living outwith our means on the never-never so much and instead make do with what we have – perhaps that is the real way of preventing this from ever happening again.

    It’s a collective responsibility on us all – maybe the pain that’s going to be inflicted by whatever government comes out of the farce that’s going on at the moment might teach us that.