Friday, March 23, 2007

The Won't Budg... et

Wednesday, 21 March, 2007

Yesterday I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show Budget follow-up... and the 'performances' I heard, from both sides of the table, had me wishing for Jeremy Paxman to be in the chair.

Though, to be fair to Mr. Vine, much can be laid at the door of the facile demands of soundbite media, where interviewers get constrained and now savvy politicians can use the ridiculous timeslots to say nothing, not answer or duck and run to best advantage.

In Eric Morley, Miss World style, let me in reverse order dismiss the talentless robots put forward by the Conservatives and Liberals. I think I could have drummed up more coherent counter-argument from my kids' playground. There was such fertile ground for opposition to shine and show government failings and where they would make a difference. Sadly, rehashing outdated (things can change in minutes and you need to move fast to react) spin-meister training may seem like good micro-management, but doesn't do much beyond making them seem like only being worried about being on-script.

But Mr. Brown....

He was allowed to waffle out facts ... over and over and over again... that neither answered the questions nor excused the positions the country finds itself in.

It is a possible failing of our political system that some parties have only 5 years to effect real change, but you work with what you have got.

This... government has had a long time more to do what it said it wished to do. Not only has it either not done it, but in many cases has changed its tune to suit.

In fact the only real achievement, supported by Mr. Brown's own testimony, has been to pour money into black holes, and/or employ legions more people to help gobble this money up to little or no result.

As just one example, to Mr. Vine's challenge that most people, including Doctors, find the NHS to be in a dire state despite the multi-billions lavished upon it, we were treated to a time-consuming rumbled drone of figures and excuses about 'modernisation'. You can't blame pre-1997 any more Mr. Brown!

And whoever thought up the nonsense of consuming precious challenge time with 'listener questions' should be shot. One, isolated, cock-up is legitimately and reasonably dismissed as not something he has heard about, but write in and it will be dealt with. When.. in another ten years?

And thus he managed to tell the interviewer wordlessly that he was busy and had enough and that was that. What a waste of space.

And speaking of waste, well, the environment, which is my core interest, I came back last night to a post on my site from a reader which sums up how green this budget was (noting some other great points above):

"I'd like to share the fantastic increase in the budget for microgeneration grants administered via the Low Carbon Building Fund. From £6Mill to £9Mill - brilliant!... that'll make a massive difference! Here's where it will go - half to employ more administrators and bean counters with gilt-edged pensions and half (I hope!!) to those concerned (albeit well entrenched) consumers who would like to do their bit.

So now the LCBF grants will run out at 11:45 on the morning of the first working day of each month rather than at 10:30? Fat lot that goes towards helping. Uncle Gord might as well have stuck two fingers up to the electorate .... or did I blink and miss him doing just that?"

That's our 2p worth anyway.

Telegraph - Budget has left us no better off say 7 in 10

A letter in the Telegraph:

Sir - Well done, Mr Brown. Yet another nail in the coffin of the British farmer - £400 a year to tax our Land Rover. What a good idea. I'm sure my husband will be delighted when I tell him we are selling the Land Rover to become "greener" and save ourselves £400 a year and suggest he gets around the fields to feed our 400 ewes on his bicycle, or perhaps a Smart car would fit the bill?

Unlike many of the owners of 4x4s, we rely on our Land Rover to get around the farm and for hay deliveries, which is one of the things we do to diversify. Perhaps we should get out of farming altogether, so that we can import all our food, and use lots of planes to get it here. Very green, very environmentally friendly.

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