Friday, 9 November 2012
Spilled blood and trickery built most empires. Ours is the first to be killed by kindness. The labour party emerged from World War 2 dripping with the milk of human kindness. Most of our treasury had been spent on winning the war and a large part of what remained went to America which insisted on immediate repayment of the money it had loaned us so that we could buy the tools of war from Detroit. Britain faced years of penny pinching, of crippling austerity. What did we do? We were given the most expensive present in the history of mankind and one that would become more expensive every year until the end of time. We were given the Welfare State. A noble concept on which we could not even afford the deposit. Now, according to the Daily Telegraph, because of expensive private financial initiatives - or, to put it more simply, buying hospitals on tick - the Government (us) will have to provide at least £1.5 billion in bail outs to councils mired in debt, in addition to the £1.1 billion already written off rescuing health trusts. One trust has already been placed in administration. More are expected to follow. The Ministry of Health has admitted it has no idea how it is going to help those trusts so far in debt they are effectively bankrupt and 30 organisations that are unviable. A Ministry report admitted that by March this year 34 organisations had deficits totalling £356 billion. There would have been twice as many had they not been bailed out by other Trusts and the Department of Health yet a spokesman for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted “the NHS is in robust financial health and on track to meet its efficiency targets.” Herodotus praises the Medes who made every decision twice. Once when they were drunk and again when they were sober. I take it our government is never sober so they don’t subtract that of which they first thought. We are desperate to be governed by people who are good housekeepers. In their place we have an enviroment minister who says we have planted too many windfarms and an energy minister who plans six thousand more. As an act of insensitive timing at a time when epidemic paedophilia is in the forefront of all our minds our government announces that 13-year-old girls are to get safe sex jabs. Quite breath-taking. In the fifties sodomy was a word that dare not breathe its name. Now we look forward to the day when its practitioners marry in church. How long before paedophilia is compulsory? Government spending on benefits swallows up a third of the national income, 75 per cent of street lamps are switched off at 9 pm because councils cannot afford the electricty. We fight enemies armed largely with booby traps and small arms with weaponry so sophisticated it costs millions to produce. Yet our troops went to war inadequately trained, dressed, armed and transported. We might have just been able to afford these extravagances but there were still presents in the money bag to be distributed. We had to finance the rebuilding of Germany. Then there was overseas aid for under privileged countries like China and India and the emerging African nations whose statesmen would not otherwise have been able to fill their Swiss bank accounts. They were saved by the the shovels full of gold we hurled at their heads. Germany Revived has saved up enough to buy us and China laughed at the notion they should slip us a few quid to see us over until we got paid. Our Government, a political Ali Baba rubbing a golden lamp, has enriched India. Then of course there was the expense of democratising the third world by bombing them into the Stone Age. We had been warned, of course. Cicero told the Roman Senate two thousand years ago: “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance.” In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years ago: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship." Life dances to hidden music and I have only rarely caught the sound. The first time was when a very senior officer in the Courts Service explained to me how the Establishment had massaged the murder statistics by reducing murder charges to manslaughter, in order to justify abandoning the death penalty. The second time was when I traced the ills that beset us to what has been called ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’, the Versailles Peace Congress. The Elm trees were wiped out by disease. Now we learn that, thanks to DEFRA delays, the Ash trees are dying. Since disasters come in threes, the Oaks will probably follow. With them, every recognisable sign of the Britain I loved will vanish into a disunited kingdom, a Septic Isle. There was a time when things were done differently. From the splendidly named Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, secretary of state for war nearly a century ago: "If the Arab population realised that the peaceful control of Mesopotamia ultimately depends on our intention of bombing women and children, I'm very doubtful if we shall gain that acquiescence of the fathers and husbands of Mesopotamia for which Secretary of State for the Colonies looks forward." He was referring to Iraq in the 1920s; he could have been talking about the Middle East now.