Yesterday, I reblogged a thoughtful and interesting article in the FT entitled “Britain ought to be thankful for its political class”. I received a strong response from John Gemini
which I am reblogging below in the interests of wider public debate.
Personally, I tend to agree with the broad thrust of John’s argument but not necessarily all the individual points.
What about you, any thoughts?
A Hard Look at the Effectiveness of the UK’s Political Class? – John Gelmini
I think not.
Our political class is greedy, largely Arthur Daley like, secretive, untruthful, self-serving and far too large given that 75% of our laws are made in the EU, making anything more than 250 MPs completely unnecessary.
Then there are the so-called “devolved governments ” of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with all their associated costs under the Barnett Formula which are costing the taxpayers of England £35 billion gbp per year.
Then there are all the costs of translating things into Welsh, a language spoken by just 600,000 people who no-one else in the world uses and which is of no use for exporting.
The EU itself involves another layer of government, embodied in MEPs and the transfer of £12 billion gbp a year from the UK to the EC with about 1/3rd coming back to us.
For that we are supposedly “punching above our weight”, “maintaining influence in the world”, “ensuring that World War or war in Europe is less likely” and enjoying the benefits of a single market of 550 million people.
The reality is rather different, not a single nett new job has been created in 25 years, the major powers take notice of each other and Chancellor Merkel but not us and not the Prime Minister although he likes to imagine otherwise.
In addition, the accounts of the EU are inaccurate and the EU budget subject to massive and ongoing fraud about which nothing is ever done because those “wetting their beaks” are too high up the food chain or like to sack whistleblowers like Marta Andreeson on the grounds of “breach of confidence”.
The EU was not able to stop the Yugoslav War and in fact helped to cause it by allowing Chancellor Kohl to “recognize Bosnia” and secretly bankroll the Croats.
Our political class also consists of unelected quango heads trained by Common Purpose whose sole reason for being is to exercise power without scrutiny and enrich themselves in non jobs.
If the costs of Government/the Political Class were lower than there might be a case for leaving them as they are but the reality is we are 17th in the world for value per taxpayer pound and we deliver 1/3rd the value per £1 gbp as does Singapore.Thus they (Singapore) have good reason to celebrate their political class whereas we are infested with con artists and scoundrels, who would sell their own grandmothers. It’s about time that the UK political class was subjected to their own austerity medicine and downsized.
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I wouldn’t have worded it quite that way but I am inclined to agree with John’s main argument. As you know, I would knock one tier on the head by withdrawing from the EU. Then I would look to the county authorities in England to take most of the decisions and to collect all the taxes – with the Scots and Welsh collecting theirs. Central government: two representatives from those sitting on said county authorities (and so elected) to sit in Parliament as and when required. Allow Scotland and Wales to decide how they select who they would send – numbers in proportion to the populations of the three countries.
That gives us just over a hundred “MP’s” for England, five for Wales and ten for Scotland. Their only functions would be defence of the realm, foreign office matters, border control and overseeing an arrangement for transferring wealth from the rich parts of the UK to the poorer ones. Does anything else benefit from central government intervention?
You do need an executive: essentially a PM, a Treasurer, a Home Secretary, a Foreign Secretary and a Defence Secretary. There is a good argument for making these five directly elected every five years.
I have deliberately ignored Northern Ireland. That province is as near as dammit independent – I would make it so.
This is, of course, over simplistic.
Thank you for your interesting and thoughtful response.
I too broadly agree with John’s argument.
I very much welcome your proposal as a “strawman”.
I fear that we must agree to differ on Europe and to a lesser extent on other suggestions.
However, we all seem to agree that there is a major opportunity to downsize the UK political class.
Have a good weekend!