Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pants on fire

'Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to "replace Labour's spendaholic government with a new government of thrift"...

"On my watch it will be simple: if you do more for less you get promoted; if you do less for more, you get sacked."'

Oh yeah, thrift. I remember that. About a thousand years ago, the Conservative party believed in that, and as I recall, actually tried to practise it while in government. Ah, those days of yore. But lo the many years now we have got used to Conservative ministers led by Mr Cameron frantically outbidding Labour, and promising to spend our money on this and that absolutely necessary thing. And that was consistent right up til about last week. So, first of all, I'm getting an 'Obama promise' sort of feeling here. You know, the ones that virtually never actually pan out in real life. Promises that aren't even really worthy of being called aspirations- more like vague gesturings towards.

I believe that today, when David Cameron got up, he really really wanted to lead a thrifty government. Just like a year ago he got up wanting to lead a green government, and a few months after that he wanted to lead a compassionate government; and a few months after that he got up wanting to lead a financially competent government. But I believe in my secret heart of hearts that David Cameron just wants to lead a government. Any old government. And I bet you all our money that when he gets into No 10, he forgets all about that old thrifty bollocks.

David Cameron is not a conservative. He doesn't seem to emanate any sort of conservativeness at all. Like George W Bush and John McCain and the US treasury, he doesn't seem to mind whether our tax pounds get spent at a greater or lesser rate. Just doesn't impinge on his daily musings at all. After all, its just revenue right? Revenue gets adjusted, yada yada. The simple basic truth that they are taking OUR money, and spending it as THEY like doesn't have any impact any more. When a reasonable sounding request comes in for expenditure, these guys just tick the box. The revenues will come in, and if they aren't sufficient, we'll make the pips squeak a little bit more. No biggie.

So, do I regard David Camerons serious-face lecture on thrift important and interesting? Not even a bit. Listen to this:

'... the "culture of thrift" must also apply to the civil service, promising "a new fiduciary responsibility on senior civil servants - a contractual obligation to save the taxpayer money" and a "proper finance director" for every government department...'

Oooooh- fiduciary responsibility- that'll fix things! Thats not new and different. New and different is what Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan propose in their book "The Plan". Raise the revenue locally, and spend it locally. Don't let it anywhere near Whitehall. Allow local authorities to govern again. Don't tax people nearly so much in the first place. That would be a significant change. Will David Cameron do that? I'll let you be the judge.

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