I’ll admit that I am scared of what I don’t understand.
But darling, if you’re there, gentle voice and soothing hands,
to quiet my despair, to shore up all my plans, darling, if you’re there…
And so the world has changed, and I must change as well.
The machines we’ve made will damn us into hell.
And the time will come when all must save themselves.
I will save my soul in the arms of Isabel.
For the purposes of right now, it’s Isabel Hardman in the Spectator blog:
Allowing Iain Duncan Smith to dig his heels in at the Work and Pensions department in last week’s reshuffle sent out two messages. The first was that the Prime Minister is not as authoritative as he should be: telling someone that you’d rather they moved to one department, but that it’s ok for them to remain where they are isn’t exactly ‘butch’, to borrow the PM’s own favourite word. The second is that the Prime Minister was worried about the future of the DWP’s reforms, and was keen to put someone else in charge of implementing the behemoth computer system for the universal credit, even though events meant he was unable to do so.
Instantly, Frank Turner’s convoluted lyric starts to make sense. Especially the bit about the hellishly damnable machines.
Infernal information technology 1
With good reason, then, Liam Byrne was being demanding in the Commons today:
It is quite clear that the Treasury thinks there will be a state of chaos around Universal Credit. The Cabinet Office thinks there is chaos, Number 10 thinks there is chaos. Surely it is time he told the House exactly what is going on, and put before us the business case that he is trying to keep secret from this House, or is there something that he is trying to hide?’
Let’s be honest, here: is there anyone who can put “government department” and “new computer system” in close proximity, without a frisson of fear? And this one will cost “no more than £2.5 billion”. So, let’s not remember the (what was it?) £11 billion , or £12 billion, even £15 billion, (depending on your source) thrown at computerising NHS records. Lest we forget, that, too, was priced originally at £2.3 billion. Hold on to your wallets.
In general, then, and without reservation, we can safely predict:
- the Universal credit system is a great idea —
- but so was the Titanic, and the Groundnut Scheme, and the Poll Tax, and railway privatisation, etc., etc.
- The Universal Credit system will in due course collapse,
- but a whole generation of computer whizzes and IT bods will retire, in comfort, to country estates.
But, darling Isabel, keep doing what you do so well with your gentle voice and soothing hands.