Monday, January 12, 2009

Well-Stuffed MPs Return To Palace Of Plenty

Well-fed MPs drift back to Parliament today after a record-breaking 24-day festive holiday at the taxpayer expense, as people suffer the worst slump for nigh on 30 years. Meanwhile home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has a lot of explaining to do about her bogus figures. 

While shops go to the wall, UK manufacturing falls at its fastest since 1981, numbers on the dole the highest since 1997, MPs have lost their conscience and connection with ordinary folk.

Job losses seem to have escaped the public sector fat cats with meaningless job titles, now part of a long overdue crusade by many national newspapers. At the top of the public sector food chain stand the country's MPs, ring fenced and cushioned from the recession and the growing band of 'payroll MPs' flushed with promoted egos and self-importance. 

What a difference a job makes. On the one hand, the government offers top whack wages, generous benefits and gold-plated pensions to its card carrying Common Purpose quango lackeys, while in the real world of real dwindling jobs, it's all wage cuts, unpaid overtime and short-time working.

The grotesque contrast between the harsh world of struggling ordinary folk in the economic crisis and the cosy comfort of the political elite, is most evident in the closeted world of MPs and their lifestyles, as they look set to continue to squander our money. 

While occupational pension schemes are being closed down, MPs' pensions remain protected. Hard-pressed families struggle with debt, but MPs have their mortgages paid for them by the taxpayer. People are tightening their belts but MPs' generous expenses system allows them to squander taxpayers' cash on furniture and home improvements. 

Peter Oborne, writing in the Mail last week, put his finger on what he called a national disgrace: "MPs who put private profit above public interest are treating voters with contempt as they milk their expenses system." Yet still nothing on MPs' expenses has been published.

Top of the dishonesty pile must come home secretary, Jacqui Smith, who seems to have put on a bit of weight over Christmas, according to the picture above, to face questions over more bogus figures and face accusations of becoming a bit of a big fat liar. 

Last year, she was forced to admit that immigration numbers were made up. Letters to newspapers sucking up to her while attacking the Tories were actually written by friends or relations.

That's on top of the revelation that the home secretary misled MPs over knife crime statistics. And there's the not so very small matter of Tory opposition spokesman Damian Green, who looks set to be cleared over trumped-up home office leak allegations.

Meanwhile Brown faces his first real test of the New Year as he tries to look busy doing nothing and prepares to spin his way around the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow with a decision on the controversial scheme, opposed by environmentalists and west Londoners, expected in the next few days.

More than 50 Labour MPs are opposed to it, along with the Conservatives. But Brown is behind the scheme and, backed by deputy prime minister Mandelson and a very powerful Heathrow lobby and advertising campaign, the government is set to wriggle its way around the pollution and noise with the promise of a new high-speed rail link on top of another runway.

The high point on the horizon? Some political commentators are bending over backwards to toe the Downing Street line that Brown has ruled out holding a spring election. He's done nothing of the sort. He lives and breathes election strategy and how to wrong-foot the Tories. 

Last week team Brown spent around £200,000 of taxpayers' money on a pre-election tour of the north. Mandelson's minion, Derek Draper, who has set up a New Labour propaganda blog, with contributions from, er, Mandy and Brown's bully Charlie Whelan, is already in a pickle over 'moderation'. Brown's personal Downing Street website a flagrant breach of the civil service code, would not look out of place in North Korea. 

If that's not all blatant electioneering, the Orange Party is at a loss to know what is.

Photo: Tractor Stats

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