Monday, December 13, 2010
The toughest part of being a politician these days is that one can no longer say what one really thinks of any subject anymore, even as a purely personal opinion, for fear of outraging someone or some group, who will then proceed to fan the flames at any opportunity. More frequently than not, such outrages are taken or quoted completely out of context or simply 'parsed', so that two relatively innocent sentences can appear damning when selective quotes are placed next to each other. I'm not describing any particular incident or example here but simply reflecting my own view that the public are not well-served when our rather sinister culture of political correctness stands in the way of honesty and open debate. Once upon a time this island was proud of its national sense of open and liberal democracy but today I wonder what remains.
A friend of mine was, until relatively recently, a Member of Parliament for a northern city and not a Conservative I should add. He once complained to me that the politics of the Indian subcontinent were more pivotal in his selection process rather than local issues. This was a subject he couldn't pass public comment on and he became sufficiently disillusioned to stand-down after a single term. I don't wish to debate the rights and wrongs of what he said but rather that as a Member of Parliament he felt unable to share what some observers might perceive as a legitimate concern over a sensitive subject.
Watching the lunchtime news today, I was somewhat outraged myself by Labour's Andy Burnham playing the role of students champion and condemning the coalition for their cuts. All this without saying for one moment what labour might have done should it have won the May election.
For anyone who might have forgotten, including Mr. Burnham, as an extravagant nation we are approximately £4 trillion in debt, (that's a consolidated figure as the total national debt - accumulated over many years - is about £848.5 billion.) which is a very large figure indeed. The total public sector debt, which is now being tackled is about £159 billion and the costs of bailing out the banks totaled another £78 billion. In 2009 -2010 the last government spent more on welfare than it received in income tax and if we were to try and sell every house and flat in the UK to balance the books, we would still be a £trillion in debt. In fact, we are accumulating more interest on the last government's debt than all the country's mortgages put together! Meanwhile, Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, this weekend, praised 'heroic' immigrants on benefits who send welfare money home to family members.
Just to remind readers in conclusion, in Scotland, 61% of jobs are state-driven, in Northern Ireland, that's 73% and in Wales it's 77%. For a decade, Labour robbed the private sector to build thousands of non-jobs in the public sector and the consequence was state monopolies, a rapidly sliding education system with Sure Start a failure and standards in secondary schools have plummeting below nations such as Poland and Estonia. A health service with the worst outcomes in the advanced world and a national debt that our grandchildren will still be paying-off many years into the future. So you decide on who we should trust to run the economy given the size of the financial disaster that we have inherited and for which we have to thank the New Labour experiment.