James Moore: Serco should stop blaming others for the state it's in

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The Independent Online

Rupert Soames must get fed up of his grandfather – a certain Winston Churchill – constantly being mentioned in connection with his own career.

“There is a real sense that, having confessed our sins and in taking the punishment, we are now ready to start on the path to recovery,” said Mr Soames as Serco, the battered business he is trying to turn around, announced a rights issue.

It’s hard to imagine the first part of that statement coming from his grandfather.

But imagine that portentous voice saying, “we are now ready to start on the path to recovery”. It has a certain Churchillian ring to it, doesn’t it?

It will take a Churchillian effort to get the job done. Profits have collapsed, around £1.3bn has been written off on loss-making contracts, and the company won’t return to sales growth for another three years.

But faced with that, Mr Soames has gone in for a bit of un-Churchillian whingeing, complaining about a huge transfer of value from Serco’s shareholders to the State.

That is hardly the fault of the State. And it wasn’t the State that indulged in the tagging of dead offenders. Given the place Serco finds itself in, you might very well wonder if it’s terribly clever of Mr Soames to be complaining about an important customer like that. Better to show a stiff up lip and get on with fixing things.

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