Sometimes it is so obvious what Westminster should do, even an assumption of incompetent ignorance won’t suffice as an explanation. One must assume instead that other considerations are in play.
For example, if there are three things Britain should offload with all speed, it is Whitehall, mad bankers, and the European Union. Probably most of us could write a thick book as to why, but here are some news pointers just from today’s crop:
Official figures show Public sector officials saw their pay rise by 1.6% last year. Officially, this wasn’t supposed to happen, as the Coalition has declared an official two-year pay freeze for public officials. The increase is, in turn, higher than that for the private sector.
Thus the pay rise is unofficial. As blind-eye turning is all the rage at present, I would personally be delighted if there was an unofficial SS-style programme of shooting 1.6% of Mandarins in reprisal. That’s something I’d happily wear a blindfold about, and not lose a second’s sleep as a result.
The Bank of England yesterday agreed with the Treasury Select Committee that there has been an “alarming decline” in banking standards. This is an odd way to put it. If looting were to increase steadily year by year, the government wouldn’t call it an alarming decline in leaving windows unsmashed.
What we have here is an accelerating rise in banking criminality, pure and simple….alongside a steady percentage of bankers going to jail, viz, 0%. But the Chancellor still says it would be wrong to break up the banks.
As it would be obvious to a myopic bat that consumer retail money should in future be kept ringfenced away from looney investment banking 5-card stud money, one can only conclude that Mr Osborne is under the lobby-cosh re this one.
Stephen Hester, Bob Diamond, Lord Green, Eric Daniels, and Fred Goodwin are at least insane and probably crooked. They are, respectively, No 1 popular guy in the Treasury, not in jail, working on the Government’s export drive, retired, and minus a knighthood. As a code of criminal law, that doesn’t strike me as terribly onerous. Odious maybe, but not onerous.
I think we should nationalise every bank in Britain, but give them the option to leave the country instead. With five minutes to make their minds up. It’s hard to see how we could lose on that one.
And finally, the European Union. The government has announced plans to change the law applying to prisoners not having the vote. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that stopping people in prison from voting is against the law. Given the obvious principle that losing the vote is part of any sane State’s retribution for criminal behaviour, this is prima facie evidence that the ECHR is deranged. Men in white uniforms bearing straitjackets should be despatched there with all speed.
But here we are, still in the European Union. Today, Mr Cameron, alongside the German Chancellor, will be mostly pushing to cut a 350% increase in the “connecting Europe” budget line, for “interconnected transport, energy and digital networks”, which soars from €8bn to €36bn under the current proposals. For once – given the economic state of the eurozone at the minute – one is forced to agree with the PM and Geli. On the other hand, one is equally strongly forced to ask why the UK is even arguing the point – as opposed to being a free agent again…..albeit suffering the massive disadvantage of saving €200bn a year, and improving its trade balance.
The latest economic data from the ezone serve to hammer home the point with a steel-driving mallet:
“The eurozone PMI suggests that the downturn is set to gather pace significantly” in Q4 says Markit, adding that GDP could fall by up to 0.5%.
“November’s survey suggests that the near-term German outlook remains bleak,” says Markit. “Stocks of purchases across the manufacturing sector, which can be a useful barometer of confidence in the demand outlook, dropped at the steepest pace for three years.”
“Although the decline in business activity eased a touch in November, the overall French picture remains weak, with new orders showing another sharp reduction,” says Markit.
The Brussels Sprouts should rejoice in the leadership of UKip. With Nigel at the helm, things would be very different. With George Galloway in the leadership spot, for example, we’d have been out of there years ago. Mind you, we would by now be in the Pan-Russian Islamic Scottish Sharia Beheading bloc, so the downside has to be considered too.