Why the fuck are we talking about MPs’ expenses?
A very small part of my stupid brain realises that with the massive amounts of money committed to the bail-out – a bail out seen as a lifeline to the rich bankers, right on! – there must be some accountability for public spending. So for tax revenue to be spent on a man having a wank does seem like a waste. (There’s a joke there somewhere.)
But it simply ignores a wider story of wastage. Yes, New Labour has increased NHS spending in real terms, bought down waiting lists and built new hospitals, but it has also presided over a doubling in middle management, and spending of nearly a billion pounds on management consultants. If a manager needs to be told how to do his job, surely he’s not worth having as a manager. Then there’s the billions spent on IT systems that independent experts say won’t work, and on an ID card initiative that is beyond scary.
That was all BEFORE the bail out of the middle classes. I recognise this is a slightly disingenuous argument, but the money used to rescue an economy destroyed by deregulation really is propping up the middle class home owners who have embraced unmanageable debt.
There’s nothing left in the coffers for the genuinely needy. The poor and the ill aren’t going to be supported for the next two decades.
And waiting in the wings, ready to be entrusted with the welfare state, are the new Conservatives.
It seems likely that their support for the NHS is genuine, which is somewhat heartening, but their wider welfare proposals are very worrying: An extension of the Welfare To Work system from the United States, which forces people into multiple low-paid, menial jobs; and the frightening prospect of the private sector running the employment offices. But don’t worry they say, the companies will be paid based on how many people they can get back into work. The opportunities for the abuse of that system are ripe.
Add to this the clear isolationist bent of Cameron’s Tories, and things look bleak. Here is a party intent on discontinuing all sorts of relationships with our European allies – allies who we are going to need for support in the coming years, not just financially, but in terms of security too.
Meanwhile, HM Opposition are getting a bit of a free ride in the press. Obviously it’s inevitable when the tide of public opinion has swerved so violently in their favour, but isn’t it a little shocking that the casual racism displayed by the “n*****s in the wood-pile” comments passed with nary a twitter, or the Vitol scandal? Heard of that one?
So, can someone please reassure me that this rightward swing isn’t just some relativist Po-Mo temper tantrum? Please tell me it’s more than just “well, they can’t be any worse”. Please tell me it’s not the usual British lurch to the right whenever times get bad. People see more than I do in the new Conservatives yes? I AM missing something right?