Saturday, April 17, 2010

The future business, the big society and efficiency savings – political euphemisms and what they actually mean

Morlocks - Is Gordon Brown's policy of only travelling forwards through time ignoring the seriousness of the Morlock menace?

Listening to the party leaders’ election campaign speeches reminds me of great euphemisms from the near and distant past, like “strategic interrogation” and “tactical questioning” (both used as euphemisms for torture by Coalition forces’ press officers in briefings to journalists in Iraq).

“The Future Business”

Good to hear that Gordon Brown is “in the future business”. That’s lucky because as yet no means of travelling backwards in time has been discovered, though it may risk losing him the Dr. Who vote.

I also have a policy of travelling linearly through time - and solely in a forwards direction.

It’s hard to imagine that any candidate or party leader is likely to say “No – i disagree – we should go backwards into the past as fast and as far as possible and damn the inconvenience, the dangers, the costs and the sheer impossibility of doing so –it’s the only way to counter the Morlock menace, which the other parties and candidates are dangerously complacent about”.

What Gordon is really saying is “don’t judge us on our record in government, judge us on what we promise we’ll do in future.”

“The Big Society”

David Cameron’s Big Society policy of encouraging volunteer work would be great if he was suggesting it as an addition to well funded public services rather than as a replacement for them. (Volunteers do some amazing work and are often as good as professionals at it – sometimes better).

The reality of the Conservative ‘encourage volunteering’ policy though is that the wealthy and well educated will be allowed to set up their own schools and run their own local services. Having done so are they likely to be willing to pay enough tax to fund public services for others which they won’t use themselves, but are for people who aren’t so fortunate? I doubt it. The usual conservative ideology is to ask why those struggling in poverty or on low incomes don’t do everything for themselves.

As a result state schools and hospitals will become hugely over-stretched and under-funded – like those in America, while those who can afford it get private care or run their own schools – a two tier health service and a two tier education system.

‘Big society’ in this case is just a euphemism for ‘small, underfunded public services, which most of the well-off but selfish people i represent don’t want to pay for so unwashed oiks can use them’.

To be fair Alastair Darling has also said that if Labour are re-elected there will be a 25% cut in public spending, cuts, in his own words, bigger than those under Thatcher. So neither main party can be trusted not to cut vital public services.

“Efficiency Savings”

While talking a great deal about necessary cuts and efficiency savings none of the leaders of the three biggest parties – Labour , Conservatives or Liberal Democrats – have said a word about scrapping Private Finance Initiatives or Public Private Partnerships, which are the equivalent of hugely over-priced hire purchase schemes, resulting in increased costs along with service cuts.

None of them have suggested renationalising the railways, nor even ending massive public subsidies to the privatised rail companies.

Nor has there been any suggestion of cracking down on huge cost over-runs on British Aerospace contracts for the Ministry of Defence, nor of ending the ‘Export Credit Guarantees’ which ensure that if BAE sells arms to a foreign dictatorship which then doesn’t pay for them taxpayers foot the bill.

No “efficiency savings” in the world could save taxpayers as much money as scrapping these three main areas of waste. Every government and opposition in history has claimed it could save huge amounts of money but running public services more efficiently – what happens in practice is some cuts and un-necessary reorganisation which merely causes temporary chaos.


James Nelson said...

Nice analogy; "the morlock menace" and you had me thinking of them all jumping around the fruit trees, frolicking, laughing, living the life of laldy and then the sirene ...... telling people what they want to hear, having them believe what they want to believe; "globalisation", "free trade", "democracy", "freedom", "war against terror", "progress" ..... sounds good, sounds good! And th emorlock's are among us.

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