You have to admire the cleverness of the Tories to draw some of the biggest names in Whitehall efficiency to its new productivity board.
In a major coup, the party has clinched the signatures of Sir Peter Gershon, Bernard Gray and Martin Read, who will provide advice on unearthing savings and boosting performance.
The timing of yesterday’s announcement was no coincidence. The press release fell plum in my inbox after I had barely digested Gordon Brown’s plans to save an extra £3 billion
. It signalled the start of the efficiency war.
Brown's string of savings commitments was met with a stinging Tory response. “Waste and inefficiency remain endemic after 12 years of Labour government. Labour have proved themselves incapable of listening to or acting on identified savings – we will not make that mistake,” jabbed Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.
These blows will intensify as the horror of the budget deficit becomes clearer and election manifestos are drawn up.
There remains a lack of clarity around procurement and too often it is only mentioned in passing. I believe the most intelligent party in the efficiency battle will place purchasing at the heart of their strategy. Labour has the opportunity to do just this in tomorrow's pre-budget report.