Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Economy: Is New Labour now beyond redemption?

There have been some great trials in the history of mankind. Nuremberg was one, set-up to determine the guilt of various Nazis. Another has been going on for the last 12 years. This was whether the Labour Party is capable of running an economy and not destroying it. In essence, whether the Labour Party could ever credibly be a party of Government. Initially it managed to hoodwink the public, remarkably, for three successive general elections. However, as the final curtain calls, in this great trial it has inextricably failed. Miserably. It spent with no caution. Its expenditure had no control or accountability. Whilst millions were pumped into public services, there was no account of whether expenditure was used efficiently or viable over the long run. Whilst continuing to spend for public services, it lost billions of pounds to the service industry in order to forge ineffectual public-private partnerships. It pretended to have it all under control by creating fake fiscal institutions like the FSA with no teeth. It made the Bank of England independent, but did not assess its lending through the Treasury.

More shockingly, now, as the country continues to spiral into debt, its extravagant spending reaches new unlimited bounds. With an IMF bailout looming, the Labour party has a secret plan to buy votes irrespective of damage caused to the nation. Highlights include £500M set aside towards environmental policies, part of which will be used to create wind-farms. Millions of pounds will be spent on giving motorists money to buy new cars. Vat will rise, causing a fluctuating tariff that will lend towards consumer uncertainty.
Despite thousands of people losing their jobs, these are the Labour Government’s priorities. Are these the signs of Government that is not only completely incompetent, but in fact going mad? The worst part of this is the immoral introduction of a 50% tax bracket, to continuously feed the extravagance. A failing public-sector, which is relied upon by many that cannot, for whatever reason, endeavour to take self-responsibility for their own health or the schooling of their children, is to be assisted in its destruction by financial assistance. Those most needing public sector support will inevitably, due to inefficiencies encouraged by extravagant funding, get the worst services. The Labour Government has failed to realise that funding without accountability leads to waste. The public debt now is the worst in British history since the establishment of the Bank of England over three hundred years ago. The economy will take decades to repair, and a balanced budget or surplus are not unlikely to come about within the next decade. Billions spent to create and expanded public sector will go to waste as the income will no longer be present to support the projects the Government created. Like the ones at Nuremberg, the current indictment, is one that will not be forgotten. The Labour Government has proved, without doubt, that it cannot run a modern economy. It will be dangerously negligent, destructive, and doing the UK enormous disservice for anyone to vote Labour in next years General Election.

APG Pandya
Birkenhead Society

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Obama, EU, the Rift and where we stand now:

Obama’s call to Europe to send more troops to Afghanistan was ignored last week. It’s odd how the Germans and the French leaders do not seem to quite grasp, that there is a war for civilization currently being fought out in that part of the world. The Taliban, notorious for their medieval repression including throwing acid on the faces of women and burning down women’s schools, are fighting against any form of modern liberal Government. Pressure is such that the current incumbent, Hamid Karzai, is forced to follow some policies only found in the most radical Islamic doctrine in order to pacify factions in his populace. The German and French leaders don’t quite value the importance of fundamental freedoms and open Government as much as some of their populations do, and certainly not as much as the US and the UK.

There is an evident fundamental difference in approach here (as there was with the invasion in Iraq in 2003) that should demonstrate to those who fantasise about a Federal European project, with an over-arching super-national foreign policy, that this is another reason why that project is doomed. This problem of cohesion is as great as another, often raised, problem. That is the complete lack of democratic accountability for European Institutions. Lord Hoffmann recently criticised the European Court of Human Rights, for usurping powers that were never given to it. The European Court of Justice, in conjunction with the European Commission and European Council (and previous European Institutions), has been doing that since the late 1950s. It is only self-interested lawyers in the UK, in positions of influence, and of a generation that can recall the Second World War that have continued to sponsor the democratically illegitimate European Project. In their weak understanding of international relations they seem to believe that continued power to the European Union is needed in case another Hitler comes to power in Germany. This approach has reached a certain level of irony that is difficult to muster: the authoritarian law-making by the European Commission and Council is such that one might pinch one’s self to argue that the Nazi’s had a greater mandate to Govern vis-à-vis their own people. No British National has a vote on a European Regulation, nor the conception of policy by the European Commission. Even European Directives only become consented to by forgone Parliamentary Constitutional anomalies that were designed to give assent to Treaties of Peace in forgone centuries. No British National was given a vote on which states should join the continuously expanding project. Like the German people in the late 1930s who found themselves in one moment allied to the French, then to the Russians, we have no say in which peoples will have an allowance from our own taxpayers money, when the European Commission decides to give more subsidies to its newest members. This European project seems to be, a farce by our modern understanding of representative Government. Why do we suffer it?

Further, there is no financial accountability in European Institutions. An official report showed that the European Court of Auditors has not been doing its job. Nor is there any control or accountability of expenditure within European Institutions. Auditing reports demonstrate instances in Brussels were institutional expenditure was rife with corruption and excessive claims. Further to mock the intelligence of the British People a false, almost, powerless institution is created where one can vote for its members. It is mockingly called European ‘Parliament’. The role of the European Parliament is so opaque, that if one was to do a door to door canvass of streets in the UK, anyone who had heard of it would have no ideas what its role or powers are. These were problems with the European project in its very inception. The unelected technocrats, such as Schuman and Monnet, were so concerned with function and purpose of the system that they overlooked mandate. The search for a European Economy or market was so great, that the words ‘Economy’, ‘union’ and ‘market’ simply ran riot and embezzled every other right of a sovereign state to meet their ends. The citizens of nation states did not realize that every law making power that they had delegated to their Government’s could be usurped and re-defined so that it could fit with notions such as ‘market’ and ‘Union’. In this way slowly and surely the entire legislative autonomy of a nation state, and thus its people, has been slowly and continuously filtered off to Brussels.

This current foreign policy difference highlights the reality that the EU’s desire for unlimited ‘centralised’ power cannot belie the individual character of States of the European Union. Both France and Germany are states with huge social characteristics in their domestic policies. It is not all together remarkable that these Fabian instincts of pacifism and wilting to foreign bullies are embedded in their foreign policy instincts. The socialist instinct of selfishness is inherent within this; we are content and complacent in our own nest the rest of the world can go to hell. This is why neither the French nor German Empires created enduring institutions like the British. It also shows that further integration would be a nightmare for Britain. Our culture and instinct are vastly distinct to other Europeans, even those states that are supposed to be most like us. We must reverse the trend of integration, to a national conscious position in Europe where we, the people, can have a right to scrutinize the Commissions Policy Making. There should even be considered a Centre for European Policy installed in the UK with public access to policies and access to clear accounts of expenditure. Any further integration into the European project ought to be stopped, including jettisoning the Lisbon Treaty and its enervation of the nation state. I dare not imagine the day when a Sarkozy has a veto on whether we should invade the Falklands.

APG Pandya

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Weekly Public Parliamentary Expenditure Assessments Needed?

On a train back from the picturesque green fields of the Midlands, pleasantly smiling at the beauty of these Isles from the speeding window, I suddenly found myself sighing sadly. I turned and faced the newspaper and read the news on Jacqui Smith’s husband. Whether this was private impropriety is an issue that I did not want to ponder. However, when I read that tax-payer’s money had been spent for her own family’s pleasure, albeit erotica, I wondered whether there was any moral basis left in this Government. How can a senior cabinet Minister hold such a post, yet not keep control of her Parliamentary allowance? Surely, negligence in one, must relate to incompetence in the other? I forgot that the Labour Party plays on the fallibility of human-beings, in the perverse socialist world where there is a search for meaningless equality. These character traits appeal, somehow they are reflective of all of us and thus acceptable. The Prime Minister condones her conduct by not sacking her on this basis. Voters do, fortunately have a choice between the decency and integrity offered by David Cameron’s Conservatives and the continued corruption of New Labour. Such was the cocksureness of New Labour, that it is attempting to pass a motion to permit MP’s to edit their expenses prior to their release to the public. Have you every heard of such a travesty of transparency, and to the notion of 'open and accountable' Government, that is supposed to be at the heart of every democracy?

Here’s another thought that hit me on the train. One cannot ignore that there is a subtle similarity between the complacent and negligent conduct of the Home Secretary, Lord Milners and the FSA. This is a Government that appoints persons that lack that fundamental important value in a politician, the ability to be 'self-critical' in one’s acts, pertaining to the characteristic of 'self-accountability'. That prevents or reduces one’s personal flaws from entering into politics. If one is not accountable to one-self, then one is hardly going to know the margins of accountability (to the electorate) as a politician. The institution of Financial Services that the Labour Government created, mirrored its personalities. The FSA failed to act to extravagant lending, for two key factors attributable to the Government. Firstly, it had no clear powers to do so (in the same-way Brown is limiting accountability for expenditure) and it was not guided to do so by its Directors. The latter was through not enlarging upon the limited discretion given to it, characteristic of the appointing Government's wish to avoid scrutiny. The word ‘accountability’ is not in the New Labour vocabulary book. Only such a Party could revive Lord Mandelson continuously, choosing political exigency over a shameful past record. With a few months of New Labour coming into power, the door of unaccountability was left wide open and the warning signs given by the secretive and disingenuous conduct of Geoffrey Robinson. The same attitude towards ‘accountability’ is why New Labour tried to make so light of the extremely serious Cash for Peerages scandal. It is a Party machine that thinks it is above these fundamentals of democratic Government: openness and accountability. Fortunately, the British electorate knows better. It values accountability, integrity and honesty as having a place in the heart of politics. This is why next year many people will be finally be glad to be casting their vote away from the Party in red.

As far as the ‘unaccounted’ expenditure is concerned there is now a mistrust held by many members of the public towards the elected. It is now important to militate against this mistrust, by edifying the public faith in Government. What is, perhaps, needed is a short weekly, monthly or annual session in the House of Commons where a general summary, or audit, of personal expenses are read-out. This would be true transparent Government. It would also be a better solution than trying to curb expenditure, or to limit it altogether. To do so would make the life of an MP wholly impracticable.

APG Pandya
[Copyright Birkenhead Society]