WE ARE THE MASTERS NOW
The surprise victory of the Conservatives in May and the Labour implosion since has led to an arrogant style of government this summer.
Election promises have been abandoned and proper procedures bypassed by Ministers who see their time in government stretching into the mid 2020s. It is essential that judges, the media and voters keep this government under scrutiny in the absence of effective political opposition.
The list of examples of arrogance in power is quite long considering this government has only been in power for three months.
Take the crash of Kids Company. Only last week Ministers overruled civil service advice to give the organisation three million quid. Civil servants insisted on the rare procedure of a direct written order to do it. We need more of that from the Sir Humphreys.
Take the National Living Wage announced in the Summer Budget. The Low Pay Commission which gives independent advice to the government in this area, appears to have been by passed. At the very least its policy of making recommendations that keep job losses to a minimum has been seriously compromised according to many business organisations now deeply worried by the implications for their wage bills of paying £9 an hour by 2020.
Another example is the funding of the BBC. This is meant to be decided after a lengthy period of public consultation. In 2010 this requirement was ignored as the BBC was forced overnight to accept a TV licence freeze, funding the World Service and paying towards broadband roll out. The excuse then was the financial crisis prevailing at the time. What’s the excuse now? The decision to make the BBC pay for free TV for over 75s is an important one with many implications. However the BBC has once again been forced to accept the deal in return for getting the licence fee tied to inflation increases with no reference to us.
Government promises have been torn up left right and centre. More is yet to come out about when Ministers knew they were going to “pause” the electrification of the Manchester-Leeds rail line. And remember that promise to the elderly that there would be a £72,000 cap on their contribution to their care. That’s now been put back to 2020.
Then there is the political trickery that all politicians get up to but it leads to cynicism amongst the public. The demand by Tory backbenchers that we spend 2% of gross domestic product on defence has been met. Hurrah! But wait a minute, that’s only because intelligence spending has now been included. Then there are the British pilots flying bombing missions in Syria without parliament’s permission.
The one thing these arrogant Tories haven’t done is announce forty new Conservative peers. That sort of move is usually announced on a quiet Friday afternoon in early August. But Lord Sewell’s political discussions with ladies of the night focussed attention on the failed structure of the House of Lords and the preferment of a load of time servers and party donors is being delayed.