Yesterday’s Times Online published a worrying yet perhaps unsurprising story (“Labour Hid Scorched Earth Debts Worth Billions”, click this link to read the story) of how the new Government has started to discover a number of expensive commitments which an increasingly desperate Labour administration sought to hide from public gaze.
Nearly half a million pounds’ worth of new school contracts, many in key Labour marginal seats; numerous defence contracts including a thirteen billion pound tanker aircraft programme; a multi-billion pound nuclear plant decommissioning programme, and more overpriced and impossible national IT projects for immigration and pension services.
Unaffordable budget pressures at the Ministry of Defence resulted in Gordon Brown’s government using the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) mechanism to spend Treasury money over and above what the military – or perhaps the country – could afford on equipment for the war in Afghanistan. Over three and a half billion pounds was spent in such a way since the conflict began, leaving the UOR almost three quarters of a billion pounds over its usual limit.
In short, it looks like the Labour government knew it was on its way out, and was preparing a ‘legacy of chaos’ for the inbound Conservative administration.
No wonder Gordon Brown didn’t want to form a Clegg coalition.