Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Sink This Yacht Talk

The Lib Dems have been holding their annual conference in Brighton this week, although you could be forgiven for being either unaware of this or uncaring. The party whose big policy seems to be to ignore the democratic will of the British people, or at least - like their heroes in Brussels - to force us to vote again and again until we give the right answer, are strangely bemused about their unpopularity with the electorate right now. It seems that all of those years of trying to be all things to all people, of facing both ways, of being the push-me-pull-yous of politics did them no good at all because the moment they got their wish and became the great ameliorative of politics they had always claimed to be everyone saw them for what they are. They then voted accordingly.

Someone called Tim, a fantasist whose belief in God and Creationism seems if anything less fantastical than his belief that the Lib Dems have the answers to our woes, said something truly astonishing at his big speech. He said that Labour did some good things in government.

Now it has become an article of faith for the modern Labour Party under Chauncey that this is patent nonsense. Even the Good Friday agreement, a bona fide achievement with which even this blogger can find no quarrel, was of course not Mr Tony's achievement at all. Oh no. That was because Chauncey and John McDonnell had spent all of those years praising IRA terrorism and thus winning their trust to get around the negotiating table. What? Chauncey and John played no part in the round table discussions? Clearly a lie.

What other things did Labour achieve? Ask those who still call themselves new Labourites and they will tell you that it achieved things like building new schools and the minimum wage. Even in this they err. The minimum wage is the sort of thing you consider an achievement if you are the sort of person who pays it rather than receives it. The minimum wage became a ceiling rather than a minimum for millions. Employers, who, until it was brought in, might have felt compelled to pay a local market rate according to skills, availability of labour, length of service and so on felt emboldened to pay the statutory minimum to everyone always and entirely regardless of any of the above because that was what the government said they should pay. This has now become their prevailing philosophy. They have got away with it and are still getting away with it because politicians think they did something great by inventing the minimum wage. It became a ceiling and trapped millions on a pay rate that is inadequate, so much so that it has to be subsidised by the taxpayer through the Gordon Brown invented wheeze of tax credits. Tax credits are a system of welfare, not for the low paid, but for employers.

Taken in combination, the minimum wage and tax credits have been a failure on an epic scale. Created with the intention of helping the poor they have succeeded in making the poor poorer, have entrenched their poverty, made them reliant on the state nevertheless and have subsidised employers so that they can keep paying them poor wages. They have trapped the poor in poorly paid jobs and given employers no incentive to pay more. Oh and they've also added to the national debt thus making us all poorer and succeeding generations poorer. Brilliant!

You will look in vain for any economists to tell you any of this though which is why politicians refuse to believe in it. But then that is because economics is just guesswork given a fancy and scientific sounding title enabling people to be paid well above the minimum wage for work that even British Leyland would have considered shoddy.

No, the only real achievements of Labour when in government were the aforementioned Good Friday Agreement; the smoking ban, which has added to the merriment of the nation by forcing those who are so addicted to their little white cancer sticks that they are prepared to brave the British weather in order to inhale their own noxious fumes rather than inflict them on others; making Gordon Brown and Mr Tony pretend to like one another for a decade and of course the scuttling of the great national gin palace of Hitler sympathisers otherwise known as the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Now it seems that some are seeing the Brexit vote as the signal to bring back this ridiculous throwback to an era of warm beer and rationing for the hoi polloi to prevent them becoming corpulent gut buckets on fast food. The excuse for this is that it was terribly good for international trade don't-you-know. Well, far be it from me to doubt this argument but it is the same one they use to get something to do for Prince Andrew. He too is supposed to be good for international trade. It's probably no coincidence that his nephew Harry is at a bit of a loose end these days and would quite fancy the idea of cruising around the world with a bevy of beauties drumming up world trade. As euphemisms go for international rutting that takes some beating doesn't it?

Seriously, when are we going to get over this idea that the world sees our royals as anything other than a curiosity? Sure they are often fascinated by them but even this fascination is usually  accompanied by sniggering. It's a national embarrassment. Sure tourists might enjoy standing and gawping outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, but then the same is true of Versailles and they used to take a dump in the corners of the rooms there.

This is not to say that our royals don't appeal to the snobs of the world and to various middle eastern potentates who set a great deal of store with being compared with our more down at heel royals. But that is not a good reason to bring a ship out of much deserved retirement so that a few lickspittle civil servants and ministers can ingratiate themselves with the palace.  Of course it would bring a smile to the face of the Queen, something we usually only see after the 2.10 at Ascot. But this is not really a good reason for the expenditure of millions of pounds of taxpayers money. It would be cheaper to just bribe a few jockeys.

Anyway, the Queen is 80 now for crying out loud. How many more birthdays must the sour faced old bag be expecting anyway?  Given the length of time it takes us to do any kind of major project these days there is zero chance of her living to see the old boat refloated. If it's given the nod tomorrow, there is just about an outside chance that the Royal Yacht will be back sailing the seven seas in time to see the next Lib Dems in government. And, since their first move will be to take us back into the EU anyway, it will all have proven to be a fantastic waste of time.

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