Hedge trimming on the Public purse…

 

(image illustrates hedge trimming around an MP’s helipad)

The thing that hasn’t been mentioned to any extent, in the recent MP’s expenses sage, is the nonchalant reliance on the State.

When the long term unemployed “sign-on”, they are considered “benefit scroungers”, yet for the life of me, after 20 years fairly close observation (and occasional participation) in the political process – I cannot see the difference, between this term of abuse for the proven needy and the self administration of funds to MP’s by way of supplemental income.

One MP appeared on the news to say that a constituent of hers had complained to her that she had had a formal request to the UK “Social Fund” rejected. The Social Fund is a means testing agency of the Department of Work and Pensions, which administers small loans and money gifts for the purchase of essential items. In this instance, the essential item under consideration was a bed and mattress, for a claimant with a long term health problem –  the mattress was allowed, but not the bed. So – the message is clear: we elect our officials to represent our interests in matters of local and national affairs. In the conduct of their office, they see fit to “self police” their remuneration in kind – as they are not directly responsible for their pay increases. They have cultivated a ‘nod and wink’ acceptance of incidental purchases that have only to satisfy an internal auditing committee, that they have been “wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the purposes of performing their parliamentary duties”.

Thus, the cleaning of a moat (as there is no one else around to do it, the MP in question being indisposed in London, performing his Parliamentary duty)….the purchase of an elephant themed lamp, a bag of manure; the maintenance of underground pipes servicing a tennis court….all these items no doubt satisfy the House rules in their incurrance. The list goes on….and on. This is why this type of exposure can and will never again happen. It brings our Parliament and our representatives into shame. The petty, penny pinching, self betterment – clearly at the expense of other Public Servants – has to end. Above and beyond this though, is a culture of dependency that has soaked its way into every aspect of British life…

Halls of Power – Westminster…

Westminster Village is precisely that – a village; it has all the gossip and intrigue of a medieval palace, and of course, the courtiers to go with it.

However, this is a little more serious than regular speculation on who’s up and who’s down; the standing of the country is at stake. In the USA they cannot believe that we could be on the brink of removing the most Statesman like of Prime Ministers, since Lady Thatcher. For all his brilliance, Gordon Brown projects an image not a million miles away from those Premiers of the former USSR – a little harsh perhaps, but as with every stereotype, there are elements of truth to it.

Tony Blair is a fantastic politician. This does not mean he has been a fantastic Prime Minister – he hasn’t. Unless of course, your criteria are huge increases in the scope, role, power and cost of Government – in which case, he has yet to be surpassed. Here lies the problem. Gordon Brown actually could increase further the tax take, and spend, as a proportion of the National Economy. After 12 years as part of the public head of Government, we have effectively NO idea about where GB stands on International Diplomacy – on various of the UN Treaties of the last decade (notably Israel). We do not know his view towards the Ministry of Defence (MOD) – is it under funded, or are we at the correct pitch for a World Power, slowly relinquishing it’s status to the emerging Titans of India and China (and an increasingly Internationalised and revitalised Japan, and a slowly outward facing Germany – one could go on)

Our Drama unfolds, and we the British public watch on from the wings, reluctant to let go of a world figure, and yet quietly excited at the hoo ha – how long will this last, once Gordon is safely in place?

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