Targets are a lazy way of governing, or managing, or just trying to get something done. Set a target, add a reward (or a punishment) and then sit back and relax. No need to think about it any more: a target has been set.
And that's exactly what lazy ol' Nanny State does. She wants everything to be done her way, but she doesn't want all the shit, shag 'n' hassle of actually dealing with the detail.
To take an example at random: worried about leaking water pipes? Oh dear. But no need to worry - just set the water companies a 'target' to lose let water through leaks. Then tell them you'll take away some of their enormous profits if they don't meet your new target. See? Problem solved.
But what if the water companies turned out not to be staffed entirely by chimpanzees in suits? What if someone in those water companies actually realised that you could also reduce leaks - and hit your new target - just by reducing the water pressure a little.
Oh but they wouldn't, would they? Surely, if they did that, people's showers wouldn't work properly. Boilers, which need a certain minimum pressure, would go expensively wrong. The higher floors on flats might not even get any water at all. Everything would be fucked up, wouldn't it?
And people, who pay through the nose for the basically-cleaned-up-rain that the water companies sell, would not like that at all
So the water companies would have to secretly reduce the pressure without telling the customers, just to meet their 'targets' and keep their greedy paws on their profits.
Which is, of course, exactly what the bastards have been doing.
Genius. Long live targets.