Monday, August 21, 2006

Why buy a dog and bark yourself?

In this country we are used to paying politicians a great deal of money to do work that we end up having to do ourselves. They are forever trying to herd us into neighbourhood committees to make decisions for them on the blindingly obvious. They then act like they’ve done us a huge favour by ‘devolving decision-making to communities’. Not only do they not have to do anything, they have someone else to blame if it goes wrong. You wouldn’t mind so much if there was even a hint that any of this so-called ‘empowerment’ activity reflected a genuine commitment to power sharing. On the contrary, it seems cowardly and cynical.

There is a long history of responsibility-shirking dating back to Thatcher’s time. In fact most insidious political trends emanate from her. The severe recession of the mid-eighties led to many professional and trades people, who would not normally have faced a financial crisis, losing their jobs and then their homes. The Thatcher government completely failed to control unemployment or interest rates. We hardy souls have managed to claw our way back up the greasy pole only to be harangued by the present government for not saving enough to support ourselves in old age.

Gordon Brown, (Scrooge McDuck to his friends), treats the Treasury as his personal money bin. Rather than use some of it to fund hospitals, he’d rather let some private sector developer do it. They then sell on their interest almost immediately for a huge profit, none of which comes back to the Health Service. Meanwhile, hospitals end up with massive deficits. Whose fault is this? Ours of course. We are not taking good enough care of ourselves and this neglect is putting too much pressure on the health service. The government’s response? Order us to eat more fruit and vegetables and threaten not to treat people who make ‘poor lifestyle choices’.

A couple of years ago there was a fleeting blizzard which closed the M1 motorway. Unfortunately it was choc-a-block with commuters at the time. These wretched people had to spend the night sitting in their cars as there was absolutely nothing done to aid them. No one thought to call someone in, say, Canada and ask them what they do when lots of snow falls on roads. Happily they all survived the ordeal only to be berated by government for not being properly prepared. What right-thinking person would set out on a ten mile journey to their commuter rail station without a mountaineer’s sleeping bag, a hamper of sandwiches and a large flask of tea?

Now ordinary British Muslims are expected to take responsibility for national security. Arguably it’s a more sensible strategy than letting the police do it as they have a knack for picking on the wrong people. After decades of not managing to host sensible political debate, politicians now wonder why extremist movements are springing up everywhere. So who gets passed this hot potato? The most disempowered minority in the country, Muslim women. They are being called upon to assert a moderating influence over would-be suicide bombers. Where is the fine political oratory that should be sending extreme views packing? ‘Shall we have sharia law here then?’ ‘No’, (slap), ‘now piss off.’

We need to stand on this bad dog’s tail until it reacquaints itself with its job description and starts to bark. My personal rebellion will be to pursue the poorest possible lifestyle choices and recklessly not save for old age, (not difficult in my case as I hardly earn anything to save). I’d be quite happy to join any lobby group going as well as long as it’s not full of half-wits and meets in an ambient pub with a reasonable house white. In the meantime, someone email me when it’s time for the next belle époque. Cheers.

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