And the surprise about this is?

The Chancellor is to announce £15 billion of new road schemes across Britain, two thirds of which are in Coalition constituencies.

The announcement, coming just months before the general election, will form a key part of George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

More than 80 schemes are being detailed by Mr Osborne, the Tory chancellor and Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Some 65 have been cleared to start, with two thirds of the schemes in Conservative or Lib Dem areas, including some of the parties’ most marginal seats, The Telegraph has found.

Of those, 42 schemes will benefit the constituencies of Coalition MPs and 21 will benefit Labour MPs. Two other schemes benefit both Labour and Coalition MPs.


Government
spending is always deployed to purchase votes for the current members of the government.

Quite why anyone should be surprised by this I’m not sure. It’s one of the certainties of political life. The Labour Party promises spending that will get it votes, the Tories do, the Lib Dems do: it’s one of the basic critiques of allwoing the government to spend anything. It doesn’t get spent on the good of the nation it gets spent on the good of those allocating the spending.

26 thoughts on “And the surprise about this is?”

  1. 65 constituencies, with a national average of about 70k voters in each – reasonably accurate, we can assume here, given the size of the sample. £15bn to be spent on about 4.5 million votes, most of whom won’t change anyway.

    We like to crow about how we’re not corrupt, but really our corruption just takes incredibly inefficient forms.

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    Oh! 15 BILLION!
    Torygraph had it at £15 million this morning. Seemed a big story for building a new roundabout on the North Circular.

    Had to go up to London on Thursday. Sat stationary on the M25 somewhere around junction 5 for an hour. Gatwick to Crouch End, return. Six hours. Commitments meant it was all for a 15 minute chat.
    Couple of years ago the new Malaga by-pass opened. Inner one was getting occasionally busy at peak periods. Four lanes each way with a 2km tunnel driven through a mountain. Knocked a few minutes off those trips to the Algarve, though. The 450km come in well under 4 1/2 hours. Worth going for the evening.
    £15B? Something tells me there’s a few zero’s still missing.

  3. There no doubt is some vote-buying, but you can’t really spot it from those figures. Basic statistical error: assuming that the necessity and cost of road construction are uniform across politically different areas. Comparing, say, Essex with the Scots Highlands shows that assumption to be utter bollocks. It is entirely conceivable that areas with larger proportions of Tory voters actually need higher road spending. If the lecturing from the Left about how selfish right-wingers won’t do the environmentally responsible thing and use the train like what they do is at all accurate, it would in fact be exactly what we’d expect to see.

    To tell anything frmo the figures, we’d need to compare them to the last rounds of road spending, particularly under a Labour government.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    Coalition seats tend to be rural. Rural areas tend to be larger. Larger areas need longer and hence often more expensive roads.

    Is this really a surprise?

  5. So Much for Subtlety

    Dave – “£15bn to be spent on about 4.5 million votes, most of whom won’t change anyway. We like to crow about how we’re not corrupt, but really our corruption just takes incredibly inefficient forms.”

    That’s only £3,000 per voter. That isn’t inefficient. That is cheap. Come on, have some pride you voters! Hold out for some decent cash.

  6. SMFS>

    It’s inefficient because they’re giving it to every voter, not just the swing voters who actually turn up to vote. If they were just allowed to pay-off the few thousands they need…

    B(n)iS>

    “Sat stationary on the M25 somewhere around junction 5 for an hour. Gatwick to Crouch End, return.”

    That’s why I always take the Woolwich Ferry. It’s not actually any quicker, but it’s more fun. Could you not just have hopped on the train, though? Gatwick to Finsbury Park only takes about an hour, and then you can either walk or hop on a bus up to Crouch End.

  7. I have long held the opinion that road repair is a major arm of local if not national corruption. There are hundreds of roadworks going on all the time and most of the ones I pass seem to have about 2 blokes working on them. It would be interesting to do a comparison of how many men’s wages are being paid vs how many workers actually are on site. 10 men’s wages paid, 5 men only working–five men’s wages left for kickbacks.

  8. The last government had 13 years of doing their own voters favours, so we should expect the balance to be redressed.

    Presumably, when the last lot were doing their thing it was redresseing the balance from the 18 years before that. And so it goes on.

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    ” Could you not just have hopped on the train, though? ”
    But you forget, Dave, I’m not really British these days. I’m sort of Franco/Spanish. It simply never occurs to me that a trivial distance like a hundred miles is worth noticing. I really do do 900km jaunts to Portugal for an evening out. I regard the entire length of France Lille á Perpingan as a casual afternoon’s motoring.
    It’s a calibration thing.

  10. B(n)iS>

    Hah, yes. I’m used to the idea that you never try and drive from Gatwick to north London, or vice versa. It’s quicker to get to/from Bristol airport most of the time than Gatwick, from round here.

  11. bloke (not) in spain

    Dave.
    Nantes > Dunkerque is quicker than Dover.> North London
    Was the last time I did it, anyway.
    It’s ten times the distance.

    UK road infrastructure simply isn’t fir for purpose. Even Algeria’s better. Better road surfaces compared with round here, anyway.
    You could lose £15b in one of the potholes.
    And you lot are arguing where it’s being spent.
    Sheesh!

  12. B(n)iS>

    You must have the worst luck with your timing – but that’s another bad route to drive, even at the best of times. You know there’s a ferry into Tilbury now? You’ve got a much wider choice of routes if you take that, because you’re starting on the north bank of the Thames rather than the south. There are no decent roads south of the river, it’s a bit of a barbarian wasteland.

    In general, despite living in London most of my driving life, I’ve almost never driven on the M25. I avoid it whenever possible.

    If you want to know just why it’s so fucked, this page has an unwholesome amount of detail:

    http://www.cbrd.co.uk/articles/ringways/

    It’s mainly because it was kludged together out of what was supposed to be London’s two outer ring-roads.

  13. They’re resurfacing the M3 where I live. I got on the motorway a month ago to be greeted by the sign:

    Delays Possible until December…
    2016

  14. Nantes > Dunkerque is quicker than Dover.> North London

    That’s because that bastion of communist, collective thought that is France has bizarrely set up a pay-as-you-go system of toll roads run by private companies; and the French quite happily accept both rail and road as being legitimate and complimentary modes of transport without flying into a spittle-flecked rage at one or t’other.

    I like driving in France.

  15. bloke (not) in spain

    “It’s mainly because it was kludged together out of what was supposed to be London’s two outer ring-roads.”

    But they’d already kludged together two inner ring roads, the N & S Circulars into one of the nastiest périphériques in Europe. Was that for practice?

    What isn’t a bad route to drive, in the UK? Edinburgh to Perth on Xmas Day morning? Nah. Probably be shut due to 1/4″ of the wrong sort of snow.

  16. We drive from NI to Bavaria for our holidays every year. We do as much of the driving as we can in France. French autoroutes are amazing. Got stuck in terrible stau on the Bodensee on the way back this year and thought we were probably going to miss our Chunnel back, but made it because I was able to drive from Strasbourg to Calais at an almost constant 145kph. Must have hit the brakes a couple of dozen times.

    > What isn’t a bad route to drive, in the UK?

    The M6 toll.

  17. bloke (not) in spain

    Since we all seem to be praising the French, does anyone know how the set up for the aires de service works on the peage?
    They’re like holiday resorts. Loads of parking, pump-outs for mobile homes, E-leClerk at Toulouse has a TV lounge, those nifty shower thingies mist you with water as you walk between the uprights. All free. And stay for 24 hours. Services on the M25 want to charge you over 2 hours. £8 isn’t it? DON’T DRIVE TIRED. TAKE A BREAK. Yeah, right.

    Is this something the concession holders provide voluntarily or is it a requirement the peage management insists on to have the concession? Or a national requirement. How’s it paid for?
    Be interesting to know.

  18. The head of Total’s service station division told me during a seminar (of about 20 people) that the service stations struggle to compete on price and so they needed to differentiate themselves somehow. They figured out that is the women who choose the stopping point based on how much she and the kids like the facilities, and hubby fills up with petrol at the same place regardless. So they put in a toilet inspection programme and found sales went up.

    Also, I think the French – possibly because they drive much longer distances – have always seen the aires as legitimate rest points to eat a proper meal and possibly stop for a few hours or more. Whereas the Brits see service stations as a place to stop for as little time as possible to take a piss and/or meet somebody selling knock-off leather jackets out of the boot of a car.

    My guess is a combination of the two brings about the difference.

  19. “Edinburgh to Perth on Xmas Day morning? Nah. Probably be shut due to 1/4″ of the wrong sort of snow.”

    I think the story is that the M9 was approved because a lot of the civil servants in the Scottish Office lived in Perthshire and wanted to speed up their commute to Edinburgh.

    Once you get north of Dunfermline then the M9 is pretty much deserted most of the time.

  20. Indeed. But as I said, the peage road system in France is one of the world’s great anomalies. A country where they think subsidised dance lessons for adults is a human right accepts toll roads run by private companies without blinking.

  21. Once you get north of Dunfermline then the M9 is pretty much deserted most of the time.

    Unless you are quite a way north, that would be the M90.

    “Edinburgh to Perth on Xmas Day morning? Nah. Probably be shut

    Oh, don’t be silly. I drove from Falkirk to Faslane on 2 Jan, many years ago after some 72 hours of solid snow. It wasn’t pretty but I got there on time. And without any bodywork damage.

    Whinging London wankers do actually stop (or, at least, get massively rarer) north of Watford Gap.

  22. > I think the French – possibly because they drive much longer distances – have always seen the aires as legitimate rest points to eat a proper meal and possibly stop for a few hours or more. Whereas the Brits see service stations as a place to stop for as little time as possible to take a piss and/or meet somebody selling knock-off leather jackets out of the boot of a car.

    You may have a point, as this would also explain why what good services there are in the UK aren’t in the South-East where people do piddling little drives but are on the big North-South routes.

    For what it’s worth, although I love the French autoroutes, our experience of their services the last couple of years has been dismal. Overpriced shit food in scabby buildings. Maybe we’ve been stopping at the wrong ones.

    German services, now: they’re excellent.

    > Whinging London wankers do actually stop (or, at least, get massively rarer) north of Watford Gap.

    Indeed. And the traffic just disappears north of Birmingham.

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