Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Kettle and Hyslop
Martin Kettle wrote an odd article in the Guardian a few days ago. He appeared to blame much of the present malaise in UK politics at the door of Ian Hyslop. His main thrust was that the drip drip drip effect of satirical comment had demeaned the position of those we elect to rule over us. It had made their job almost impossible and that the scorn and derision of the public was a bad thing. 
His somewhat partial view neglected to closely examine several other more important elements.
The expenses scandal exposed a culture of greed and arrogance. The attempts to stifle debate and cover up the extent of the sleaze also reflected very badly on all MPs. Too many kept quiet even if they did not buy into the cash and carry culture themselves. The tiny handful who have been sent to jail can consider themselves unlucky. Equally appalling sinners walked away scot free (Blair - his expenses records were destroyed ‘by mistake’ as he left office) or paid back large sums of money for items they had obtained falsely (Gove - £7000 for expensive furniture). Others stood down at the last election to avoid the wrath of the electorate (MacKay and Kirkbride, the Wintertons). Loads more played the housing market and got away with making small fortunes ‘because it was in the rules.’ It may have been in the rules - but it was wrong - and in their heart of hearts, most knew it was. McNulty had a second home 8 miles from his first one. Maude had one 300 metres from his first. The Balls Cooper combo used the rules to build their wealth. And so on and on. Hundreds of them. The squeaky clean were in a distinctive minority. The sinners were not the tiny number claimed by Kettle.
The revolving door between ministries (including officials) and major industries is little short of corruption. Justify if you can the colossal overspends on defence projects and look at the way the companies involved employ ex Ministers and senior civil servants. Dip your bread. Now they want to do the same to health.
The grovelling before King Rupert by both major parties has been exposed recently and shows how far corruption has spread across our major institutions. The Met police look to the media for those little ‘extras’ which help make living in London so much more bearable.
Our system stinks. The present incumbents contain too many tarred with sleaze to do anything about it. Every time Gove or Maude bang on about looters they should be told to look in the mirror. Listening to McNulty on Radio 4 talking about asbo’s was a reminder of just what brass balls these people have. 
The media are supine and compliant. They do not challenge. They do not caption MPs appearing on Newsnight for example with a list of their outside interests. They do not point up the sheer humbuggery of so many of them when they bang on about Laura Norder. They do not spell out the effect the cuts are having on ordinary decent folk while the bankers with the help of their chums in Westminster waltz off with even bigger bonuses.
So what is a poor boy to do? In the words of the old American trade unionist Joe Hill, “don’t mourn, organise.”

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