Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is enough, enough?

Some people are starting to ask if the Westminster Follies has run for long enough. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has been moved to call for a truce, pointing out that the humiliation is complete, and perhaps it is now time to take stock, and start to try and restore some dignity to Parliament.

Stressed MPs - many of whom may be facing criminal investigations although they all felt they were part of the "nod and wink" scheme that made up for their relatively low basic salaries - are talking of possible suicides; but this farce needed to run and run, because for a long time many of the Westminster villagers simply refused to "get it", because they had become part of a 12 year "project" by New labour to use it's vast majority to install a centralised and "presidential" style of administration, with political animals (paid from public funds) like Damian McBride, threaded through the service as never before. Now we can look back over the 12 years, perhaps "conspiracy" actually says it better then "project" ..?

Blair's vacuous babes were emblematic of his "Stepford" Administration, where inexperienced and wholly inappropriate individuals were controlled through programmed responses that took away the need for anyone to weigh up arguments and think for themselves, because the debating chamber became almost completely irrelevant under the junta. The fact that 75% of UK legislation now emanates from Brussels also engendered a sense of futility and pointlessness where those who found themselves sidelined and politically irrelevant found they had more time to spend flipping their mortgages and dealing with their domestic expenses.

Like so much else that has gone wrong with Britain today, this entire affair sits squarely on the smug shoulders of Tony Blair, who was ready to do and say anything to get into power and stay there. He pretty much came from political obscurity, with no respect for any of the great traditions of parliament or democracy. Despite his obviously toffish family and background, he correctly calculated that he could get nowhere as such a raw neophyte in the Conservative party, and set about using his lawyerly skills for wooing the defeated and demoralised Labour party, looking for a new Messiah. And like Blair, ready to do and say anything to get back into power.

His biggest enemy from the outset was always going to be "common sense" and that sense of rectitude that the British understand as "fair play". Blair (and his chief svengali, Alastair Campbell) wanted unquestioning enforcers and vapid lobby fodder. Even 80 year old lifelong party members were to be ejected from triumphant gatherings like the Labour Party conferences, at the first sign of dissent.

Another part of Blair's poisonous legacy is that all parties saw how he had got away with such a lightweight background, an absence of any skill or gravitas - and decided that it was safe - necessary, even - for them also to have candidates that were camera and sound-bite friendly professional politicians, with no life experience to speak of.

TMP believes that the overriding issue of the past 12 years is the substitution of "good old fashioned British common sense" by process, belief in various forms of entitlements, and crude undemocratic diktat. The fact that Labour's "project" has involved importing large numbers of people as cheap labour to fuel the phony boom (and also mostly vote in their favour) meant that it would be necessary to try and eradicate the "British" dimension from Britain, in order that the new workforce should not feel awkwardly excluded from the society that the British believe themselves to be part of - which is a very distinct existence from that of many European countries that have been variously invaded, conquered and carved up many times over the past few hundred years.

The latest news that the UK birth rate is now the highest since 1972 is a very mixed blessing. Despite the issues of an aging population, the planet doesn't need more consumers of resources, and the fact that 24% of all births in the UK are now to mothers born outside the UK, is significant. This news only adds to the belief that no one in government is listening to the people who would have liked to have been consulted rather more closely before their society was changed in so many fundamental ways. But maybe if Westminster sits with its ears shut for long enough, the majority of the "people" will have born to parents from overseas anyway? Perhaps then government will start to pay attention to the English native minority…

This refusal to engage in a debate about the nature of Britain without name-calling and presumptions of prejudice gives the BNP their once-in-lifetime opportunity. Although it seems that the BNP contains too many fundamentally stupid people for the movement to ever take a proper hold - not least thanks to that innate British sense of "fair play", so admirably shown during Joanna Lumley's Ghurkha campaign. But there will be trouble. One of the responsible parties needs to take ownership of the concerns that are apparent throughout the country that England (especially) has been re-engineered into something the English didn't ask for - and don't want - through the process of unfettered immigration.

The present expenses shamble has shown the entire population just how completely corrupt and untrustworthy a large part of the government and parliament has become. If it can display such bad manners, poor judgement and crass stupidity over matters such as porn TV and phantom mortgages - just what else have they mishandled? Of course the only way forward is to hold an early general election and re-examine each and every candidate; those who have not previously been MPs will have the advantage that their lives up to that point will be a good deal less transparent - and there is going to have to be a good deal of weight placed on the argument for the "Devils you know" to support existing MPs who have not taken the proverbial in their expense claims.

But even then, any MP "excused" or "pardoned" is going to lack moral authority, and we have created the most enormous dilemma for the country.

The Boy Dave endorsed the value of basic common sense in his various protestations at the sheer crass stupidity of the Grandees and their presumption of entitlement concerning such obviously tasteless expenses as moats and duck houses. The lack of judgement displayed was stellar, but the opportunity this provides to flush out the worst of the old fossils, is probably very welcome. So far at least, most of the excusable and potentially useful Tory babies appear to be capable of being filtered from the bathwater. From a glance at the league table of expenses, Labour has a rather bigger problem since a minister is always going to face a higher bar of expectations and responsibilities.

Gordon Brown's curiously differential treatment of Hazel Blears' naughty mortgage manipulations seems quite inexplicable if you don't bear in mind that the Auld Fraud is himself slightly bonkers anyway. It is always quite pointless to try and attribute rational behaviour to the unhinged. And since Broon was looking distinctly wobbly before all this broke, just imagine what the torture by Telegraph as been doing for his state of mind over the past couple of weeks.

One of the good things to emerge will be a complete reappraisal of just where the surveillance society has taken us. Technology made it possible for the mole to sneak out the documents - probably on a memory stick or mobile phone memory card. We can either carry on in the knowledge that nothing is safe, or we can start to contain the technology that is increasingly containing us. For many years, executives in US corporations have been reluctant to use email for anything but the most bland and inconsequential purposes, since they know the power of disclosure is total, and it can quickly becoming unreasoning and unremitting.

Nixon's infamous White House tapes were a sign of things to come and had little to do with modern IT - it didn't exist; and most of the MPs' expenses remained hidden for long because they were hand written on old-fashioned bits of paper - but then duly scanned into retrieval system.

On the matter of a return to "common sense", please show TMP anyone happy to have all their private correspondence and communication thrown open to public comment and ridicule, and we'll show you a desperately sad and boring individual. The wonder is that we have yet to get any juicy Mistress scandals from all this. What a tediously boring and dowdy lot these MPs truly are.

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