8/03/2005

A Clean Break for Tony Blair

The August 2 ‘Daily Telegraph’ carried a report by its political editor George Jones on how our Prime Minister intends to spend his retirement, which, after eight years of lies, spin and deception, is one of the few political developments that the British await with anticipation.

Jones reported that a spokesman’s statement ‘stopped short of categorical denial that Mr.Blair was planning a “clean break” from politics’, and ‘was seen at Westminster as an attempt to leave open his options’.

That’s our Tony, triangulating to the last.

In the aftermath of 7/7, the career of Enoch Powell has been picked over by some commentators as if it were on a par with that of Winston Churchill. It wasn’t, by any manner of means. However, apart from his misnamed ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, Powell offered one of the wisest of all insights on politics, which might go some way to explaining why his reputation so far exceeds his actual record.

It was that, ‘all political careers end in failure’, though he may have had to give a hat-tip to Edmund Burke.

The name of John Toshack might not resonate with many American readers; however, Toshack is as famous as some parts of the world as Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle are in others. A Welshman, Toshack was one of the star players for Liverpool FC under one of the few British soccer coaches worthy of the title ‘legend’, Bill Shankly.

After retiring from playing, Toshack became a coach, and several years ago was appointed on an interim basis to coach Real Madrid, the world’s biggest club. I remember Toshack giving an interview where he made it clear that the club’s expectations were so great that if the team did not perform, he would be sacked – indeed, that it was likely that he would be sacked.

Such a refreshing approach to the reality of managerial responsibility would be welcome from the country’s chief executive.

In 1997, Tony Blair swept to power promising to fix the country when, in fact, the country wasn’t broken. The Parliamentary Conservative Party was in pieces, no question about that, but the country itself was ticking over quite nicely.

Many choruses of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ later, where are we at now?

Think Great Britain 2005, and think of Powell’s Law.

If you’re a public sector employee, there has never been a better time to be British. If you’re the CEO of an FT100 company, there has never been a better time to be British. If you’re a Polish plumber or Ethiopian wannabe suicide-bomber with a British passport obtained by fraud, there’s never been a better time to be British.

For the rest of us, well, I’m not so sure. Take the council tax, for instance.

Tony and Gordon, New Labour’s straight answer to Gilbert & George, have turned inefficient public spending into an art form of the kind of which even George W. Bush would be proud. From the Millennium Dome onwards, it’s almost seemed as if they are trying to waste as much money as possible.

They are committed to ‘world-class public services’. Woo-Hoo! The very phrase ‘world-class public services’ is one that must make libertarians wonder if their tongues are in their cheeks, given that the provision of public services is not a competitive sport. Never mind that such ‘world-class public services’, such as the NHS, can only be bought by importing staff from the Third World, robbing that part of the world of its professionals, a practice which Steve Sailer has rightly pointed out does nothing but continue the cycle of poverty there (one must always give the devil his due). After 57 years of socialised medicine, it seems that your average Brit hasn’t figured out the precise nature of the relationship between poverty in Nigeria and the reduction of the waiting time for a hip replacement in Clacton-on-Sea.

It doesn’t seem to matter to them that, thanks to MRSA, you can leave hospital sicker than when you went in. They are both so ideological that they cannot see that there is no problem with the system; it is the system itself that is the problem.

But the massive rises in council, or local, tax in England and Wales over the past few years have seem them at their triangulating, spinning worst.

In the UK, approximately 85% of each local authority’s budget comes from a central government ‘block grant’, from central funds. T & G have placed massive new service-provision burdens on the authorities (new ‘Ethiopian Passport Fraudsters Outreach Co-Ordinators’, etc.) without increasing the central grant. The only way they could do that would be by increasing the national income tax. Doing so would be a political gift to the Conservatives, so instead they’ve left the authorities to raise the necessary extra funds themselves. The authorities’ only tool for doing so is the council-tax, hence in many places it’s gone through the roof. T & G get what they want while letting others take the heat.

Just like Iraq.

The British public seem remarkably ignorant about a document produced in 1996 by a focus group of the Likud Party of Israel when under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, entitled ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’. As rehearsed elsewhere, it was a creation of pure neoconservatism, which made it clear that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a primary Israeli objective.

Several of its authors, such as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, were later appointed to the Pentagon or other senior administrative or staff posts by Bush and Richard Cheney.

Israeli-American relations are at one of their lowest ever ebbs, due in no small part to the admission that the Israelis have sold parts for Harpy drone aircraft to China, and the arrest of Pentagon staffer Lawrence Franklin on suspicion of treason, an investigation which has also cast Steve Rosen of the massively influential American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) under a veil of suspicion.

However, from the British point of view, it is extremely unfortunate that young men from all over these isles, from Zimbabwe, from South Africa and from Fiji should have died not only because of our Prime Minister’s desire to join a cause, ostensibly the disarmament of Saddam Hussein, which would cement his place in history, without any apparent examination of all the possible factors which motivated it.

‘A Clean Break’ proved too strong for Bibi, and he rejected it. However, perhaps its authors did not.

That act of negligence alone should disqualify Blair from elective office. When he does go, no doubt he’ll earn a packet on the American lecture-circuit, although it’s doubtful whether he has anything meaningful to actually say.

It’s a great pity, a very great pity indeed that so many lives had to end and bodies be broken for him to pull in $50,000 a plate.

Those looking to be lectured should hire John Toshack instead. At least he’ll give it to them straight.

2 Comments:

Blogger Canadi-anna said...

It seems all the straight-talkers avoid politics.

What's happening in Britain with the downloading of costs sounds eerily like what's been done here.

Our PM, while Finance Minister, gutted transfer payments to the provinces, so spending on things like health care (provincial responsibility) either dropped or remained static while costs were going up. He reduced the federal deficit, but in order to pay their own costs, the provinces downloaded some of their responsibilities to the cities. The cities now struggle with little room for raising taxes. Now, Toronto for one, is toying with the idea of a municipal sales tax. We already have a federal Goods & Services Tax at 7%, and Ontario has the Provincial Sales Tax at 8%.

Cradle to grave social programs are insane. In some cases, it pays more not to work, than to work.
I am separated, with four kids and we live with my parents. My ex pays some support and I work two jobs, but I still barely make ends meet.
I have a cousin who lives with a man off and on. They have four children together, but he pays nothing toward their upkeep. Neither she nor her 'partner' work, and he is not listed as living with her. The government has provided her with a three-bedroom townhouse, bought beds for each of her kids, helped furnish the place, gives a winter clothing allowance for herself and each of the kids every year.
Their prescriptions are all paid for, as are their eye examinations, eyeglasses, and all dental work.
She has money to buy cigarettes and pay for taxis anywhere she needs to go.
When her 'partner' has had his many scrapes with the law, the government has paid for his defense.
Now she's decided each of her kids deserves to have their own bedroom, so she wants the government to provide her with a bigger house. Whether she'll get it or not is another story, but even that she has the nerve to want it-- in fact-- expect it -- shows how crazy the system is.

Okay, I'm done ranting.

5:11 PM  
Blogger The g-Gnome said...

CA,

No, rant away. The pattern you describe is one which could be repated a thousand times over here.

I have been a benefit claimant. In 2002, I was in a position where I had to claim unemployment benefit (or 'Contributions-based Jobseekers' Allowance' to give it its Sunday title), and the amount I was eligible to receive after 11 years of income tax and National Insurance contributions was just over £110 per fortnight. Not much, particularly when one felt like the only piece of information they didn't need to assess the claim was inside leg measurement.

The 'he isn't listed as living with her' number is a popular scam over here as well.

9:59 PM  

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