Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Westminster Shuffle

According to The Times, Gordon Brown has been approached by Lord Mandy of Pandy, pressing him to reshuffle the government so that Mandelson can get an early Christmas present of a new ministry. If it goes ahead, less than 3 months after the last rearrangement of the Titanic's deckchairs, then it is time for us to take to the streets and demand an end to this government.

There will be no benefit to the electorate in allowing this washed-up bunch of fraudsters a last chance to play at being Foreign Secretary, Deputy PM or Assistant to the Privy Seal.

In case the Prime Minister hadn't noticed, this country is on its knees: £200bn of debt; £900bn of unfinanced civil service pensions; rising youth unemployment; rising inflation; unwinnable wars causing daily death tolls.

This is not the time to be indulging in vanity to permit a few politicians the chance to run the "department of their dreams". If any one of the geniuses currently in charge of a government department would have done a better job elsewhere, the PM should have had the foresight and intelligence to have appointed them a long time ago.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The election is over, can we please just get on and vote?

Yesterday’s parade of ermine and tiaras at Westminster (and that was just Peter Mandelson), highlighted that we have a dead government walking. Or lumbering towards an inevitable defeat. Most of the announcements were re-wordings of previous policies that still haven’t been implemented, despite 12 years of Labour promises and guarantees.

There was no mention of cleaning up the expenses system and parliament in general, at least not until the government was forced into a U-turn this morning by saying that this will now become a priority. There was no mention of how to pay for the new flagship elderly care bill – maybe OAPs will be shipped en masse to Spain to retire? There was no mention of how to reduce a £200bn budget deficit or how to finance an estimated £900bn of civil service pensions.

Six months is a long time in politics. But precious little will get done in SW1. If reports are to be believed there are between 33 and 71 actual days of debating between now and the end of May. That is next to no time to tackle major problems such as elderly care, the NHS or education. But it is plenty of time to implement a new expenses system and prosecute those who tried to buy duck houses and free porn from our hard-earned tax. And that would give us a clean system going into the election.

I would wager that most people intending to vote next May have made up their mind. There is little Labour can do to convince any sane person to give them another chance. The next six months are going to be wasted in Westminster because the government is tirelessly hanging on to their right to govern for the maximum 5 years. It’s a shame Her Maj (the real one, not Peter Mandelson) didn’t deviate from the script yesterday and announce that in the interests of her people, she was dissolving parliament forthwith and we could all have a new government for Christmas.

There are going to be six month’s of sniping, back-biting and murky revelations (and that’s just about Peter Mandelson). Can we please just draw a line under the tawdry mess and get the voting over with? It will save time and money that could be put to better use in sorting out the ruinous state that the country is in.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Stop the expenses scandal, I want to get off!

How many reports on expenses does it take to change the attitudes of MPs? We (the taxpayers) have paid KPMG millions to produce one report; Sir Christopher Kelly is now spending a few million more to digest that and produce another one.

One of the recommendations from Kelly’s report will be the setting up of a quango to oversee MPs expense claims – the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. (You see what’s happening there? Not content with being caught with their hands in the till – or pants around their ankles in Mr Jacqui Smith’s case – they are creating yet more jobs for civil servants and cronies). But it won’t be independent, as the people working there will be appointed by the MPs themselves and you can bet that they will be ‘influenced’ to water down the proposals from KPMG and Kelly. The quango will also not start its work until after May 2010 and most of Kelly’s proposals will not take effect for 5 years, in order to give MPs time to adjust.

Time to adjust?! When any normal company implements a new policy, it usually happens within a few months and the employees get little say in the matter. MPs and unionised firms appear to be the exception, where toys are ejected from prams and the public is inconvenienced whilst ‘workers’ and employers decide who is going to back down first.

When are MPs going to accept that they are no more special than the thousands of people who travel for business every week and give up their plasma tellies and subsidised housing?

- Hotel or rented flats reimbursed at cost (less than £100 per night)
- Meals reimbursed at cost, limited to £50 per day
- No claims for those living within 50 miles of Westminster
- Travel to be via cheapest option from constituency, not a phantom home
- Porn and bath plugs not allowable

There, that didn't take £6m to work out, did it?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town

…in the shape of Alistair Darling and the town is the City of London.

Alistair Darling is going to give the banks an early Christmas present to the tune of £30bn of additional funding to see them through this difficult time of year. Bankers not knowing where their next magnum of Krug, holiday to the Maldives or deposit on a bolt hole in Cornwall will come from, can sleep restfully in the knowledge that the 28m other tax payers will be providing for them this yuletide.

It is obvious that Darling and Brown are clutching at straws and are desperate not to be the last major economy to be mired in recession, especially as we are now 6 months from deciding which UK party will have the right to implement Brussels' edicts for the next 5 years.
The Chancellor would be better off writing a cheque for £1000 for every taxpayer, which equates to roughly £30bn. That way we would either spend the money, in which case retailers benefit through increased sales, as does the government through VAT income; or we would save the money, in which case the banks get the money anyway.