– A series of defence contracts signed shortly before the election, including a £13 billion tanker aircraft programme whose cost has “astonished and baffled” ministers.
– £420m of school building contracts, many targeting Labour marginals, signed off by Ed Balls, the former schools secretary, weeks before the general election was called.
– The troubled £1.2 billion “e-borders” IT project for the immigration service, which, sources say, is running even later and more over-budget than Labour ministers had admitted.
– A crisis in the student loans company where extra cash may be needed to prevent a repeat of last year’s failure to process tens of thousands of claims on time.
– The multi-billion-pound cost of decommissioning old nuclear power plants, which ministers claim has not been properly accounted for in Whitehall budgets.
– A £600m computer contract for the new personal pensions account scheme rushed through by Labour this year, which will still cost at least £25m even if it is cancelled.
Jack Straw, who is presumably free to speak the truth because he is past all personal ambition, put it most explicitly last week. In order to recover, he said, Labour would have to get back the votes of “decent, hard-working families” who felt that “we had not been listening enough on issues such as immigration, benefits and fairness”.
Every word of this statement is significant. “Decent” implies not feckless or irresponsible. “Hard-working” means not choosing benefit dependency as a way of life. “Families” suggests people who are maintaining more or less stable relationships in which to raise children. In other words, Mr Straw is acknowledging that Labour had come to be associated with the interests of people who were irresponsible, not hard-working and had no commitment to family life in any sustainable form.
OH has links in his article to his source material