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Stephen Barber presents BBC Radio 4: The Case for Doing Nothing

LSBU Professor Stephen Barber presents a BBC Radio 4 documentary on what fuels unnecessary actions by politicians and the benefits of inaction by governments
07 October 2016

London South Bank University’s (LSBU) Professor Stephen Barber presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary on 8 October 2016 which discussed the pressures the media and the democratic system place on the UK government to act, initiate and modernise - including contributions from high profile public figures.

The idea for the programme emerged from research Prof. Barber has been doing around how government works. His research looks at what governments do but also what they choose not to do, and the simple notion that, sometimes, doing nothing can produce better results.

Prof. Barber said: “It is great to be able to present a programme which investigates the benefits of inaction and why the option of doing nothing is so often overlooked.

“Governments are often criticised for not doing enough but the systemic problem is that they try to do far, far too much. Like many public and commercial organisations, governments are under huge pressure to act, to reform, to modernise.”

The programme investigated what fuels unnecessary action including competition between ministers for parliamentary time and financial resources, the increasing complexity in law, and the media.

In the documentary Prof. Barber interviewed: Baroness Tessa Jowell, Dame Margaret Hodge MP, Sir Richard Mottram, Peter Lilley MP, Trevor Kavanagh, Lord Francis Maude and Baroness Estelle Morris.

Prof. Barber added: “What has been really interesting in making the programme, and interviewing a number of elite informants, is just how many of those who have experienced these pressures agree with me about the systemic failings and agree that things could be done better.  

“It seems that there is an opportunity now to think about inaction as, occasionally at least, a way of improving government decisions.”

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