Selling out, buying in

It's your money but they waste it

The original Mr Bean The original Mr Bean

Poor old Vince Cable. Like his party his fortunes are on the way down. The Liberal Democrats look to be stuck as the fourth party in UK politics several points below UKIP for the foreseeable future. While the performance of the LibDem Leader, Nick Clegg, must be responsible for some of this he cannot shoulder all the blame; so attention switches to the coalition Business Secretary, Vince Cable. The National Audit Office says that the Royal Mail privatisation was wrong to sell the shares too cheaply and this has cost the taxpayer £750 million.

However, Cable is very proud of the way he handled the sell-off and has refused to resign. Perhaps we have to feel a little sorry for Cable as way back in late 2007 he was the Leader of his party and in a position to dish it out to Gordon Brown. It was during a debate on defence that Cable said -

The house has noticed the prime minister's remarkable transformation in the past few weeks - from Stalin to Mr Bean.

We now see that having a go at Brown was not only easy, he was a natural target, but the high-water mark for Cable. What a turn-around that Cable now finds himself being biffed by Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary. Though it should not be too painful as Cable, unlike Umunna has actually worked in a business. However, the numbers do look bad, the share value of Royal Mail has risen 70% since the sale. Luckily for Cable Umunna did not have a joke to tell the House of Commons and so further damage Cable.

And therein lies the problem with the shadow business secretary. He is a worthy soul but humourless and dull. He may, in time, be Leader of his party but will, like Brown, be the natural target for opposition jokers. Hence he should dish it out while he can. But back to the money. Is £750 million such a large sum? Let's not forget that both the LibDems and Labour are very keen on the HS2 project.

The overall cost of this project is currently about £42 billion. However, it will rise, costs on projects like this always do. The design costs are already going up and neither the LibDems or Labour seem to care. Both are transfixed by the 'benefits' of EU membership so this EU inspired vanity project slips past them while they bicker about £750 million lost on the sale of Royal Mail. And in case you are wondering why Royal Mail had to be privatised well that was another demand made of us due to our EU membership.

In both cases the public are effectively excluded from the decision process. There is no opportunity, as there would be with direct democracy, for them to play a part. Beyond the odd reference in a political manifesto there is little chance for them to judge then decide on these matters. So we have the farce of two parties who have helped bring this about arguing over a minor sum of money from selling and getting out of one thing, whilst ignoring the larger cost of buying in to another. Also don't forget there is at least a proven, over several hundred years, business case for Royal Mail while the HS2 project has never been able to justify itself. More on direct democracy HERE.