Sunday, April 07, 2013

On the Gravy Train

Kim Seen on an a Visit to Thanet's Gateway Building
This weekend, you might have been forgiven for thinking the world had gone mad or just become rather more dysfunctional than the week before.

There's a plump young dictator in North Korea called Kim, who likes basketball, pizza and heavy artillery, loosely following the plot of an old Peter Sellers satirical comedy of the Cold War. He thinks that if he declares war on the United States and loses, he can confidently expect to have his country rebuilt, through the generous largesse that the United States bestows on all its vanquished enemies (as it did for Germany through the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II and Iraq more recently).

Then last week, you might have heard that our Police Commissioner for Kent, Ann Barnes, appointed the notorious socialite Paris Hilton to the new role of junior police commissioner. Paris then did what Paris does best on Twitter and I assume Facebook too, although we haven't seen the latter social network figure in the Daily Mail just yet. Young Paris has managed to become an unintended 'car-crash' celebrity of sorts, while simultaneously calling into question the judgement of Ann Barnes. In such unfortunate circumstances, I'm not convinced the position of youth commissioner remains tenable.

Paris Hilton
The Philpott trial has opened a completely new debate on welfare and entitlement as a lifestyle choice and this morning, I was listening to BBC Radio 4 and a programme on the history of the Welfare State; how what was imagined has changed so very much beyond the vision and finer purposes of its founding fathers. I recommend it as a lesson in how a plan built on the very best of principles can be overtaken by history and changing economic circumstances.

Here, at the centre of the political world with county elections just around the corner I sit here reflecting at the often turgid nature of local politics and what, in some quarters, appears as a sense of entitlement; a warped view of public service as a career choice which replaces employment.

After all, what might readers think, if any outwardly healthy, energetic and well-groomed leader of a local council had been claiming a disability pension for well over a decade? Based on the strength of the public's views this month, there's little sympathy for politicians and even less for politicians living on expenses.

It's rare for me to find common cause with Ian Driver, but people may also be irked by the lifestyle choice of the young Rodney, spending much of his time twittering enthusiastically that he is delivering political leaflets; hoping perhaps to make a career on Labour's gravy train, rather than looking for real work as you or I might understand it. Thanks to a little help and encouragement from family and influential political friends, collecting a series of generous allowances at the public expense, on an accelerated path that may soon exceed the average family income, here in Thanet.

Local politics on our own small island has become a career subsitute for some and I would argue that this lies at the heart of many of our problems, the often entrenched tribalism and the confidence deficit which now surrounds us. Local Government reforms were supposed to encourage politics as a part-time vocation but instead it frequently achieves the opposite and this is as good a time as any to encourage some frank and soul-searching introspection among ideas and time-expired councillors of all parties and in every corner of the land.


Anonymous said...

Simon, it is not just the unemployable and to be frank the none too bright Labour career politicians who are the problem. You must add to that the Ezekiel's that your party keep putting forward who have much greater ambitions than just claiming the allowances. Then there are the officers who you employ who are operating way above their intellectual capacity. I'm not sure how you resolve all those problems locally.

Simon Moores said...

I didn't claim to have the answers but share your concerns.

Anonymous said...

If Paris has to explain herself to her superiors then she should make the excuse that what she wrote was "satire". After all, a certain cllr who should know better (being 40 years older than her) also used that as a defence!

Simon Moores said...

I dont believe that 'satire' would have proved an effective defense in the example of young Paris. If you read some her Tweets then you will understand that her rich command of the English language posessed a certain directness which held no room for equivocation

God Fearing Christian said...

I seem to recall Alex Jones making a comment last week about Fat Boy liking his pies, or words to that effect.

Not very respectful I'll admit, but threatening to nuke Austin, TX is a bit of an overreaction if you ask me.

Bet Pres Obama put him up to it.

Anonymous said...

Paris Brown...!

Simon Moores said...

Are you sure? I thought it was Paris Hilton!

Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear on the radio this morning that future police candidates could have their use of social network sites included in their CRB checks! If this young lady is a 'typical teenager' then god help us all. The only thing typical appeared to be the tears when found out! Not particularly impressed with the way she was supported by our new commisioner either.

Anonymous said...

The 17yr old girl may not have come from a leafy part of Tonbridge Wells and didn't speak with a clipped 'ok yah' accent but she truly does represent a large part of our youth today, she made these comments a year or two prior to being given the role of junior police commisioner but this incident did highlight the problems of social media sites and how easy it is for young people to make highly contentious comments without a second thought.

I thought Ann Barnes handled the situation correctly and didn't get caught up with the Daily Mail's over the top persecution of the girl involved.

I think we can all learn a lesson or two from this?