Ten questions for Cameron and Osborne on state “waste”

But will they ever be posed and/or answered?

1) How do you define waste in the public sector? Isn't there a difference between making "efficiency savings" and cutting "waste"?

2) How, for example, does selling off valuable public-sector estates and properties at potentially knock-down prices, and in violation of existing contracts and leases, save the taxpayer money in the long term?

3) In 2005, the Tory report on planned savings ran to 173 pages but this year the statements produced by Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Read cover just four pages. Why are they so much shorter, and less detailed, this time round?

4) Isn't there a conflict of interest in having an adviser advocating spending cuts while chairing a private company that could potentially benefit from them?

5) Why won't you put Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Read up for interview? With, say, Paxman?

6) Why do the two two-page notes from Gershon and Read contain no detailed explanations or statistics, or any department-by-department breakdown? What happened to Tory transparency and openness?

7) How do you respond to the Standard Life chairman, Gerry Grimstone, who also happens to be advising the Trearury on its operational efficiency programme, and who says: "By the time the next government is ready to take detailed decisions, we will already be well into the financial year. It is just not credible to think that our savings can be almost doubled"?

8) Why do you pretend as if the government is not tackling "waste" in the public sector, despite the Treasury having announced £15bn out of a target £35bn in efficiency savings?

9) How do you respond to the OECD's chief economist, Pier Carlo Padoan, who says that "the fragility of the recovery, a frail labour market and possible headwinds coming from financial markets underscore the need for caution in the removal of policy support"?

10) Having accused the government of "moral cowardice" in failing to deal with the Budget deficit adequately, isn't it irresponsible, not to mention hypocritical, to use an imagined saving of £6bn to make a tax cut, rather than tackle the national debt?

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Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Work with us: Wellcome Scholarship at the New Statesman

Be one of our 2016 science interns.

Britain needs more great science writers – particularly from backgrounds which have been traditionally under-represented in the media.

To address this, the New Statesman and Wellcome Trust, in partnership with Creative Access, have come together to offer annual placements to student or graduates from an ethnic minority background*.

The final 2016 placement will take place this Autumn/Winter (the exact date is flexible) and will last for four weeks.

Over the course of the placement, the successful applicants will:

  • Work alongside the New Statesman web and magazine team, learning about the editorial and production process, and how articles are conceived, written, edited and laid out;
  • Undertake a data-driven journalism research project on a scientific topic, which will be published on the New Statesman website
  • Visit Parliament and learn about how science-based legislation is developed and debated in the select committee system
  • Have an opportunity to interview a leading scientist or policy-maker
  • Write a regular bylined science blog on the New Statesman website
  • Receive regular feedback and editing from the editorial team
  • Meet journalists at other titles in the sector (previous Wellcome Scholars have met writers for the Atlantic, and presenters for the BBC)

Over the course of the placement, you will be paid London living wage.

To apply for the placement, follow the steps below and apply direct to the New Statesman. 

Please write an 800-word blogpost on a recent or upcoming scientific development which you feel has the potential to change lives significantly, explaining clearly and concisely what stage the research is at, and how it is likely to proceed. It should be written as if for the NS audience - interested, intelligent laypeople.

Please also write up to 200 words on why you are right for this placement and what you would hope to get out of it. You don't need to send a CV.

Please only use Word files, or paste your text into the body of an email. 

Send your application by email to Helen Lewis (Helen @ newstatesman co uk) with the subject line “Wellcome Scholarship 2016”. 

Applications close on 30 September 2016. Interviews will take place soon after.

This is a positive action scheme under the Race Relations Act.