Monday, 10 October 2011

"Our money, their compassion" - our all or nothing politicians

Even a grumpy old right-winger like me can see there’s a need for a benefits system to prevent people dying in the streets. Because so many Britons are now unemployable, we need to allow in some immigrants. Lending a helping hand to people who can’t work because of illness or disability seems a civilised thing to do.

I’m happy to sign up to a whole slew of other liberal-seeming propositions. Suspects in criminal cases need some rights to prevent the police fitting them up. And people who’ve been convicted of a crime need to be allowed to appeal if fresh evidence casts doubt on their original conviction. We need to co-operate with the rest of Europe, because it’s a huge market for our goods and services. Abortions are sometimes necessary, and occasionally a positive good. Anything that makes homosexuals stay together in stable relationships is to be welcomed. Once upon a time, police and nurses did seem to be underpaid – what sort of miserable Scrooge would begrudge them a decent pay rise? As for sexism and racism – well, isn’t curbing the open expression of ugly and humiliating prejudice really just a reasonable attempt to foster the courtesy that Britain used to be noted for?

But after politicians have got us to acquiesce to these reasonable-sounding propositions, they take them away, work them up into a set of universal rules – and we suddenly discover we’ve signed up to a ruinously expensive and socially destructive disaster which adversely affects the lives of everyone who isn’t a direct beneficiary of the changes.  

Why does our nomenklatura insist on treating these issues – which seem to demand a careful, incremental approach in order to flush out all the likely consequences - as if they’ve taken leave of their bloody senses? Why not a few immigrants, a bit of curbing, a bit more pay, some measure of co-operation with our trading partners? Why is it all or nothing every time?

We have a welfare system that certainly prevents anyone from starving to death. But it also gives lazy buggers who can’t be arsed to make an effort the green light to sponge off the rest of us. We pay disability allowances to perfectly healthy people who are stealing our money instead of bothering to work. We’ve given criminal suspects rights that victims can only dream of – and we’ve allowed some of the most evil beasts in the country to tie up the courts with ridiculous claims that their “human” rights are being violated because they’re not called “Mister” in prison, or because the state doesn’t allow them access to the internet so they can send hateful, jeering messages to the relatives of their victims. 

We should have allowed in only those immigrants who showed some ability and willingness to pay for themselves and to become useful, integrated members of society: instead, we opened the floodgates to welfare scroungers and active criminals as well – often from countries with absolutely no historical or cultural ties to Britain.

Instead of simply having trade agreements in place with the rest of Europe – all that was actually needed -  we’ve handed Brussells control of practically every aspect of our lives. We’re now the bitches of some boring, unelected little Belgian twat and a dodgy looking failed politician from Portugal. 

We’ve given homosexuals the right to form civil partnerships – and now our ridiculous nincompoop of a Prime Minister is simply gagging to allow them to marry. Is that really necessary? Or desirable? With the world facing financial Armageddon, why is that suddenly a priority? Just because of the Pink Vote? Is Cameron really that creepy, that little?

And abortion – instead of being a last, desperate recourse – is now a back-up service for people who couldn’t work up sufficient energy or foresight to buy a prophylactic.

And the minute we started paying nurses and police officers a decent salary, they promptly stopped doing any nursing or policing in order to concentrate on spurious “degree” courses and paperwork.

And our attempts to foster courtesy and fairness to women and non-Nordics and gays have created a climate of fear in which, as I write this post, I’m having to weigh every word in case I’m unwittingly breaking the latest laws against thought crime, and where every employer who tries to get rid of somebody criminal or useless finds themselves hauled in front of an industrial tribunal run by left-liberal fruit-loops. 

So why do we sign up to reasonable-sounding proposals – only to find ourselves being robbed blind or in danger of arrest as a result of our generous impulses?

First, politicians like to make grand gestures which indicate that they’re visionary, bold, liberal and deeply, deeply compassionate. Having enjoyed their feelgood moment in the sun, they then move swiftly on to the next headline-grabbing cause, having failed to ensure that structures are in place to prevent the system they’ve championed being abused. Politicians are only too happy to make the rest of us conduct risk assessments – but don’t trouble to carry them out when it comes to their own pet projects. (Remember, there were only supposed to be 15,000 Eastern European immigrants – the figure’s now crawling up towards the million mark.)

Oddly, when the consequences of boldness are more than likely to prove beneficial – for instance, lowering taxes and cutting red tape for businesses would undoubtedly lead to economic growth  - our rulers come over all cautious and “prudent”. But when the consequences are more than likely to prove disastrous – for instance, getting rid of the planning rules, or introducing economically ruinous   policies to combat “Climate Change” when there’s still huge questions over the basic science – our politicians suddenly come over all General “Blood and Guts” Patton. 

As for the civil service, they evidently now see their sole duty as being to prevent any vaguely right-of-centre policies being implemented while ensuring that any unproven, half-arsed scheme which hasn’t been properly costed, and which carries the risk of a whole series of unintended consequences, gets onto the statute books as quickly as possible.

To paraphrase a remark about General Patton made by one of his soldiers – “Yeah – our blood, his guts” – when it comes to our politicians, it’s a case of “Yeah - our money, their compassion”.


  1. Part #1 of 2

    Scott, first things first, congratulations on the new look blog.

    Second things second, politicians and policy. I guess we're talking there about Westminster politi-cians. We're talking the party or parties in power, not HM's loyal opposition. And we're talking about the politicians who are in government, not the backbenchers, in the main.

    Those politicians are trussed and bound by the civil service. Their every minute is controlled. Letters to them are intercepted. You can't telephone them. In the main. Obviously Liam Fox is a bit of an ex-ception.

    Third things third, the civil service. I guess what we're talking about there is Whitehall, not the rest of the civil service. We're talking about the mandarins, the permanent secretaries and their boss, the Cabinet Secretary. These people have their own ideas. Politicians who get in the way get the treat-ment.

    Consider Michael Gove, embarrassed by issuing the list of schools affected by the cancellation of building plans and getting it wrong three times. Very noble of him to take the blame, but does anyone really imagine that Mr Gove sat down and typed the list himself from memory? No. It was a function-ary who wanted to embarrass him.

    Consider William Hague, embarrassed by sending in a lot of spooks to Lybia who were promptly ar-rested by a farmer. Does anyone imagine that Hague said "I know we could just ring up, tell the free-dom fighters we're coming and then go in by boat from the (nearly scrapped) aircraft carrier we hap-pen to have parked offshore but i think it would be much more fun to go in by stealth helicopter carry-ing all our encryption technology on laptops"? No. Some goof in the FCO or the MOD put him up to it. Some goof who wanted to embarrass him.

    That's the treatment. Is it any wonder that most members of the government do what they're told by their Secretaries, Permanent, 1st, etc ...?

    So that's where the power is, in the main, with Whitehall. And that's where we who would like to see just a few of our tax pounds spent moderately effectively should concentrate our attention.

    Jacqui Smith, of all people, made quite a good speech about policy. It was all about SOPCom – safeguards, openness, pro-portionality and common sense.

    Policy should be guided by SOPCom. Agreed. (Just between you and me, I wonder sometimes whether she actually wrote that speech.) I would add that Whitehall should be businesslike, logical, scientific (policy based on evidence), responsible and dignified. And that we taxpayers want, need, deserve and pay for a Rolls-Royce of a civil service.

    Fat chance. Please see Whitehall – red light district, p.Ev w7. Whitehall at the moment is unelected and unaccountable. And they are budgeted this year, 2011-12, to burn their way through £710 billion of our money. Without effective scrutiny. Sir Gus O'Donnell and his permanent secretary pals can blow the dough on what they like and there's nothing Huhne or Cable or Lansley or IDS cna do about it, frankly, nor Cameron.

  2. Part #2 of 2

    We've got to get a handle on the mandarins. The newspapers and current affairs people on radio and TV have got to start reporting what happens to our billions. We need names. The mandarins, their understrappers, the consultants and the contractors. People have got to become familiar with these names the same way they are with soap operas, celebrities, sportsmen, criminals, and so on.

    As a very minor start on that, http://www.DMossEsq.comhas been newly launched on a grateful world and I commend it to all readers. A Mars bar to the person who makes the second comment on said blog.

    Elsewhere, there are some signs that the newspapers may respond to the call. They should. There's a lot of Whitehall news out there, and the newspapers need content to survive. Why ignore the £710 billion elephant in the room?

    Anyway, the Times joined in the other day, with a leader accusing the Department of Health of being "criminal". That's more like it. More, please.

    You'll have to read the leader here, to get past dear old Rupert's paywall.

    Of course, the civil service also needs to include the European Commission and the US public sector. We take instruction from anyone here in the UK. But look, I sense that some of the older readers are nodding off. I'll stop now.

    Best wishes to New Gronblog – DMossEsq

  3. Nothing will change.

    Take the Ministry of Defence and the whole defence establishment as a totality. This has been one of the most useless, willfully stupid, profligate areas of governmental activity for decades now. It has wasted billions of pounds, destroyed the British aircraft and ship-building industries and lost thousands of jobs [many of them highly skilled and gone for ever].

    It has embraced and fostered the sleazy [ Al Yamamah] BAe company and allowed it virtually monopoly status and poured billions of our tax pounds down its throat in spite of the fact that it is incapable of producing one decent piece of "kit" from the ghastly SA80 rifle to the useless F3 Tornado fighter. The Euro Fighter hardly bears mentioning.

    [If you want to depress yourself read Lewis Page's "Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs" or Tim Slessor's "Ministries of Deception: Cover-Ups in Whitehall or Frank Ledwidge's "Losing Small Wars". Dr Richard North's "Ministry of Defeat" is a service revolver and bottle of whiskey job].
    .. (to be continued)

  4. And there is nothing anyone can do about because you come up against the "Whitehall Loop" ["the closed circuit procedure where, in reply to questions asked of a government department or minister, the answers are put together by the very same civil servants whose earlier judgement is both the subject and cause of the enquiry in the first place" [Slessor]. ]Then there are D-notices, "Commercial Confidential" clauses, Public Interest Immunity Certificates, the Official Secrets Act, the 30-year rule and Christ knows what else. There is also the midnight knock from the MoD police.

    Open Government? Or to quote David Cameron "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"? DM says make the civil servants accountable. I couldn't agree more, but they will continue to act with arrogant impunity. And they will be even worse now that they have a big, fresh scalp hanging from their belt. The British News media? The Army suffered a major defeat in Basra in 2008 and it barely got a mention.

  5. To lighten up the mood after my previous comment:

    1. The Allies had two excellent fighting generals in WW2. Patton of the Third US Army in N.Africa and Europe and Bill Slim of the 14th British Army in Burma. They are beyond criticism. They were obviously very good because the useless Eisenhower sacked the former temporarily because of some ludicrous incident which much amused the Wehrmacht and the War Office tried to sack the latter after he had defeated the Japanese because he forgot momentarily that in the British Army the really dangerous bastards are generally behind you.

    2. The term "nomenklatura" is now appearing with regularity in your posts. It always reminds me of Walter Annenberg III, American Ambassador to the Court of St James', who asked a reporter to identify himself. The reporter said it did not matter. "No,sir,"said Walt3 "every man is fully entitled to his nomenclature."