There are two very good reasons why watching politicians doing bread and butter work in the legislature is beneficial. The first is that one quickly wonders how they can debate matters in such detail day in day out, knowing perfectly well that position, power, understaffed police and a good network can enable most people in Britain to avoid detection or charges most of the time. The second is that, when working at the edges of the limelight (closer to the shadows) politicians unconsciously display their real nature. For providing this service alone, the BBC is worth saving, improving and nurturing.
Having watched Theresa May in action this afternoon, for example, I have decided that the word ‘Nazi’ should not be used in relation to our Home Secretary. She is simply a tunnel-visioned control freak who spends her life in awe of technical efficiency. Defending the introduction of coordinated EU measures ‘to combat serious organised crime’ hahaha she pointed out that were the law to be adopted, the registration of a foreign car would be available to police here within 10 seconds, rather than three weeks.
One could point out that the serious crimes of at least eight senior UK and European bankers have been known to most of us for nearly ten yeas, but as yet no action has been taken. Over that period, Sepp Blatter came and departed from Britain some fifteen times, but nobody apprehended him. Speed is important, but it cannot overcome privilege.
Further, it should be remembered that handing this kind of information to the Met’s serious crime squad would almost certainly result in an innocent passenger in the vehicle being shot 46 times at close range three weeks earlier than otherwise.
One of the few joys of watching MPs in action when the house is 90% empty is that they say and do things in a far more unguarded manner than during PMQs. Thus the profundity if their shallow hypocrisy is more easily discerned.
For example, answering questions on a minor technical legal issue in the House of Commons this morning, Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove said, “It is my job to uphold the Rule of Law”.
There is, quite obviously, something of a conflict between Mr Gove’s official position, and his unswerving devotion to Dupejerk Turdcock.
But we must not let this lead us to false conclusions. Let us wait and see if Michael means what he says….or merely demeans where he stands.
Having pronounced in this lofty manner, I have to say that Gove is capable of being very quick and often very funny on his feet.
In an interesting exchange between the Treasury Select Committee and the Office for Budget Reponsibility first thing today, Robert Chote (Chairman of the OBR) admitted to Labour MP Helen Goodman that “difficulties in the UK financial system have contributed negatively to Britain’s export performance”. If I can put into words what he was saying, Mr Chote meant that as long as the banking system remained unable to lend beyond its own sector, then the UK economy would continue to be lopsided and overdependent on, um, the products sold by the banking system.
Again, this is the sort of stuff we never hear from Little Osborne, which I find both worrying and funny in equal measure. But watching the TSC v OBR exchanges is an object (some would say abject) lesson in watching politicians trying to score points and civil servants trying to evade accountability. On the whole, one feels that the latter easily outclass the former, and this I don’t find funny at all. Ms Goodman asked some good questions, but when answered with blather failed utterly to put the OBR troika on the spot. On the whole, the bromides emitted by the civil servants replied seemed to satisfy the pols….which, as such are the stock in trade of politics, is hardly surprising.
I would’ve put this down as a no-score-draw on my coupon, had Helen Goodman not asked the OBR ménage à trois what effect they thought the HMRC’s new digitalisation programme might have on the efficiency of tax collection. Presenting the OBR as it did with a rare opportunity to rubbish turf-war competitors, the threesome relished the chance to use the medium of faint praise in order to effect damnation.
Faint praise is indeed the maximum the HMRC knuckle-draggers deserve: for incompetence and vindictive pursuit of irrelevant shadows, they have no equal. Defeated at last by your correspondent on the issue of £100 I did not owe them for ‘late’ submission of a tax return two years after I had left the UK, I have today received another classic postal example of underinvested tax collection trying to cover its pimply backside. I’m now informed that a Return due in April 2014 is unacceptable to the HMRC because it didn’t contain ‘additional information’.
It did NOT contain that information because I was not a UK resident during fiscal 2013-14. But at their insistence, I filled in a return during March 2015. It has taken HMRC eight months to warn me of the missing bits in that return. They are now demanding I return it to them within eight days…..or they will charge me yet again with the £100 late filing fine. Had I not sent the Departmental Head a nasty letter copied to Treasury Ministers on the subject, my April 2015 Return would’ve remained where it was: forgotten in the blind pursuit of a hundred quid. Now these clowns are trying to turn the tables via a flagrant attempt to make their incompetent treatment of my honest Return look like tax evasion.
I feel a letter to Michael Gove coming on.