Q: What do UK passports and the BBC weather forecast have in common?
A: The production of both has been outsourced to company’s outside the UK.
The BBC Weather Forecast
The Met Office is regarded as one of the leading weather services in the world, it develops and runs one of the finest NWP models on a £100 million supercomputer that’s housed in its own bespoke building, and then for some inexplicable reason the BBC, the state broadcasting system, decides to cut its ties with an organisation that it’s worked with for the last 70 years or more, and replace them with an organisation that’s owned by an American worldwide growth equity firm. The other odd thing about all this is: how did the Met Office manage to keep its contracts with all the commercial ITV companies, and at the same time lose the one it had with the state broadcaster? The awarding of the contract to MeteoGroup rather than the Met Office does remind me of that old idiom: don’t keep a dog and bark yourself.
The new UK passport
The Guardian reports that the decision to award the contract to print Britain’s new blue passports to the Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto is in effect final, and apparently will save the tax payer £120 million over the next five years. I wonder if they’ve factored into that calculation the money that the employees of De La Rue, the manufacturer of the current passport, will pay back to the Inland Revenue in income tax if it got the contract? The Guardian report goes on to say that although:
“Gemalto has not been formally named as the winning company, the Home Office said the choice of contractor would lead to the creation of about 70 jobs at Fareham in Hampshire and Heywood in Lancashire. One of Gemalto’s five current UK outposts is in Fareham“
So that’s alright then. Of course the total irony of all this is that next year the UK will be leaving the EU for good.
As you know I very rarely publish political stories in this blog which is 99% of the time about weather and climate, but after hearing that the contract for the production of these new passports has been awarded to a French company I just saw red, or should that be blue. Both organisations who lost out in this contract bidding process were founded in this country back in the 19th century, De La Rue in 1821 and the Met Office in 1854, and perhaps that may be part of the reason why they were usurped. Then again is the cheapest bid always the best bid? I bet if you asked that of any rail passenger after 20 years of privatisation most would answer no.