The UK General Election manifestos procurement promises: LibDems

As with the other manifestos, the LibDem one includes some policy proposals but in general these are bereft of any level of detail.

“Expanding the market for climate-friendly products and services with steadily higher criteria in public procurement policy.”

Their first proposal comes with a healthy dollop of hand waving and broad strokes. What do they mean by climate-friendly products and steadily higher criteria is left to the imagination. I would imagine this means more and more green criteria being steadily introduced into public procurement, but beyond that one can only guess. I stand by my view that if any criteria is good then it should be rolled out across the country instead of such good idea providing its benefits only for those involved in public procurement...

Now, if by 'climate-friendly' the LibDems mean adopting my view of incorporating only logical and tested approaches that directly reduce climate change, I will stand fully behind them.

”Using public procurement policy to support the consumption of food produced to high standards of environmental and social sustainability, and which is nutritious, healthy and locally and seasonally sourced”

On their second proposal for procurement the LibDems have taken the bait, hook and sink for 'sustainable' food procurement. One just has to look at this year's production yields for the UK where excessive rain has "drastically reduced the amount of food produced in the UK" to see the implications of a policy that prioritises locally and seasonally sourced food. One may add as well that in a good year the UK does not produce enough food to sustain itself anyway so this is just a pipe dream. Only last year we had significant food shortages in the UK because well, there was less planting going and the supermarkets contracts with overseas suppliers were based on prices so low that Spanish and Moroccan suppliers preferred to sell their produce in the EU. It seemed the 'bad weather in Spain and Morocco' only affected production destined to the UK as in the EU there were no major supply issues.

If deployed at scale these are ideas that will lead to worse food security and poorer diets because once you have abandoned the markets then you really are stuck with what you can cultivate in your own patch. Whether we like it or not markets are the safest bet for food security and by extension for food variety as well. Don't they remember how limited food options and diets were 50 or 60 years ago?

Finally, I have to give it to the LibDems for not falling for the additional trap of demanding food to be organic as well.

"Tackle long-standing problems in defence procurement, including by ensuring that procurement is part of a comprehensive industrial strategy to secure a reliable long-term pipeline of equipment procurements, which will strengthen the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Strategic Command.

Working more closely in the joint development of innovative defence technologies and procurement"

As for defense procurement, I will simply restate my previous position that I do not know enough about this space to be able to comment in detail. Having said that, I do note that in the area where procurement is less regulated and less transparent for 'national security' reasons we find significant problems time and time again. What I am not seeing here - or elsewhere - is a proposal for a good dollop of sunlight into defense procurement.

Read more