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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A Sad Picture of Government

The new, deliberately meaner, criteria for the definition of disability, and for assessing each individual's degree of disability have led to some tens of thousands of cars being taken away from their users. While a small proportion of the users may have been serious malingerers, most were in a position where the person's assisted access to a car made a very positive contribution to their lives; so the quality of those lives was diminished by the confiscation. No doubt, money was saved to the Exchequer: and thus the principal purpose of the changes to the benefits system was served.

So overwhelmingly important is the money-saving aspect of this story, that the genuine attempt of officials to create a system that does support those in abject need has been almost unnoticed. The government has again shot itself in the foot, by announcing that more people are in the motability scheme now than there were in 2010. Since everybody knows that the inexorable pressure of demography, combined with the increasing competence of the medical professions in enabling more people to live better lives for longer [despite the cash restrictions on the NHS], means there are more people in need of support every year. To make the level of support that is given to successful applicants 'less eligible' than it used to be is a deliberate diminution of the lifestyle of each recipient; for which the government is wholly responsible.

The government's excuse for all the cuts is that the deficit on the state budget is unsustainable, so the continuance of Osborne's austerity is inescapable. That fact must be set against the other: that all Osborne's bluster about a 'march of the makers', and about massive investment in infrastructure enriching the whole economy, and about a 'northern powerhouse', was simple moonshine. In seven years, the Conservative-led governments have done nothing of the slightest substance that would increase the real output of the economy and thus provide the wherewithal with which to provide decent social services and enough resources for each school to serve its pupils well. 'Economic Growth' that is led by more boozing and a greater consumption of imported clothes in each year is merely a statistic that shows how the economy is being depleted of viable resources. Just as there are more old and disabled people year on year, and more demands on the health service, so [thank goodness!] there are more children who should be able to contribute to society and to the economy in the future. The shoddy government says that more millions of pounds are spent on schools now than ever before; but even they do not pretend that the resource per child is increasing. The dire condition of every aspect of state provision is increasingly clear: and each successive government statement misses the real political point - quite deliberately - by quoting a fact that is ultimately irrelevant.

To change the focus, while continuing with the topic of the shoddy state of Britain's governance, I come to the Foreign Secretary. I understand that there are still those who are impressed by his reputed intelligence; and it is obvious that millions [not least, of Londoners who voted for him as mayor] are attracted by his personality. His faults and failings are brazenly apparent; and his many displays of ineptitude are greatly enjoyed; while they would be disapproved in a member of the royal family or Philip Hammond. His tendency to wade into complex situations [which he presumably understands quite well] with simplistic statements actually made him more appealing to those voters who were already minded to vote for Brexit. But now, as the high representative of HM government, he has made quite a fool of himself in a meeting of his peer group, the foreign ministers of the G7. The other ministers have taken the line that while it is highly probable that the Assad regime has used gas in recent weeks, that is not yet proved; and it may never be proved. Even the US Secretary of State has gone to Moscow with a much more conciliatory brief than that which Mr Johnson would have provided for him.

Boris has got himself into a hole, and should go on a long course in the use of very small tools in any sensitive excavation.

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