Updated: Oct 2, 2020
By Tim Pope FCA for Brexit Watch
Tim Pope FCA is a retired risk management partner of a leading international professional services network.
IN RECENT YEARS we long suffering ordinary mortals who comprise the ‘people’ have become resigned to the stupidity of the ‘elite’. We the ‘people’, may equally be referred to as ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’ or ‘the man in the street’. We are not the well connected. We do not move in media circles or mix with politicians. We do however, observe. We use our experience of life. We use our common sense. We use our judgment of what is right and what is wrong. We are not swayed by personal gain nor are we dazzled by the possibility of high office. The ‘elite’ tend to ignore us and assume our ignorance compared to their unswerving ability to be superior and all-knowing.
They are wrong.
We pay civil servants well. They are the beneficiaries of employment security and pension arrangements that the rest of the population can only dream of. They bask in the reputation of being world class administrators of public service ensuring that tax payers money is well spent. We now hear that as part of our foreign aid budget, these brilliant minds have been giving huge amounts of money to recipients in China. Why does China need our aid? It is now a rich country. It has a space programme. It sprays money all round the world to buy up and build infrastructure. We the ‘people’ would not even take a nanosecond to realise the stupidity of this and say no to any proposal to give aid money to China.
The Department for International Development (DfID) says it does not give money to the government of India anymore. It still gives money to enterprises in India, however. India is a rich country. It also has a space programme. It does not choose to spend money on looking after its poor people and ensuring their lot is constantly improved. That is no reason for DfID to think it has to step in and do what the Indian Government chooses not to do. The explanation put forward by DfID is disingenuous in that it may not be directly to the Government of India but it is still quasi aid to government. We, the ‘people’ would not take a nanosecond to conclude that we should not be sending money to India.
There have been a number of examples of aid largesse that we, ‘the people’ would regard as hopelessly mis-directed. Funds for girl pop bands. Funding the purchase of ‘dreamliner’ planes by the Ethiopian government owned airline which no doubt is a massive benefit to the lot of the ordinary man in the street in Ethiopia. We, ‘the people’ would not even bother to give these a moment’s thought before rejecting them.
Public Health England, no doubt regards its primary function of ensuring the public health of the people of England. When it came to the need to have the testing capacity to get to grips with virus from China it failed to call on the private sector to help. Instead it doomed itself to failure by insisting only its own resources should be used. We, ‘the people’ would instantly have concluded it is all hands to the pump. If the private sector has the expertise and capacity then use it.
Our police are lauded by politicians as doing an immensely valuable job in public service. We, the people ask: just what do the police do to deal with the issues that we face? We know the police operate speed traps quite happily. We know they have the unenviable job of attending traffic accidents. We know they deal with occasional terrorist attacks. Are these the day-to-day concerns of we ‘the people’? We want to know our houses and possessions are safe from burglary and theft. We want to know we can walk down our streets safe from attack by muggers, knife wielding thugs and crowds of protesters running amok. When exactly do the concerns of we ‘the people’ feature in the minds of the police?
Despite all the evidence that schools and children are not a hotbed of Covid-19, teachers’ unions and teachers refuse to return to work and get children back to school. The single largest contribution to our society is to provide education to children but the teachers have failed. Instead a game of politics has been played. We ‘the people’ can see it as plain as the nose on our faces.
The government has given inflation-busting rises to public sector workers as a ‘reward’ for their work during this pandemic. Even if a reward is justified, a pay rise that gets built into pay and pensions year-after-year is not justified. The cost is massive at a time when our public finances are in disarray and sorely in need of damage limitation. What sensible logic underpins this profligacy by the government on behalf of we the ‘paying people’?
We have an honours system to reward public service. If our honours system is to mean anything it is to reward outstanding service on behalf of the people. We learn that Boris is set to bestow peerages on Messrs Hammond and Clark. Two politicians who were traitors to their party, took every opportunity to stop Brexit despite the referendum result and who cannot be said to have served the public interest in their anti-Brexit crusade. We, ‘the people’ recognise bad behaviour when we see it. We know that bad behaviour should not be rewarded. It would not take us a nanosecond to reject the idea of bestowing honours on them in our name.
It appears the gurus at the Foreign Office and politicians generally have only just woken up to the unpleasantness and anti Western activities of China and Russia. These range from military expansion to political hacking and intellectual property theft on a grand scale. Leaving aside the buying of influence across the world to stifle criticism or generate support it has been clear to anyone with eyes to see that these regimes are trouble ahead and we should not even have tried to sup with them however long the spoon. Why is it only now the scales have fallen from the eyes of these members of the brightest and best in the land?
What is that happens to people who reach exalted positions in politics and public service that they do things that we ‘the people’ would not entertain? We couldn’t make it up but sadly they do.
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