Corporates and democracy

Wasting public money and ignoring what the public want

Writing in his blog, EUReferendum, Richard North rightly selects the criticism by Nick Cohen of the coalitions flagship policy, Universal Credit, for welfare reform . Some of the support, or criticism, of the work done by Iain Duncan Smith in the Department of Work and Pensions is simply yahboo in nature and depends upon where it's being published. So from some right wing elements it's the best policy to ever see the light of day and from the left we are told IDS is the devil incarnate. One joker even brought back memories of previous sloganeering by saying, Universal Credit isn't working!

North says he would not agree with all of what Cohen writes but we have to remember that Cohen is writing in the Guardian. So what Cohen cannot say is why people having their benefits stopped or reduced then find it's very hard to get work. So no mention of mass immigration distorting competition for jobs then!

What Cohen does is focus on the appaling IT failure behind the Universal Credit scheme. Seeing this vast waste of money perhaps the coalition are grateful they did not, formally, embark up on a system for compulsory ID cards as that would have wasted even more money! But if you are looking for a chance to waste money then hope is at hand, it's called high speed rail in the form of HS2.

But traditionally the Guardian like all left of centre media is keen on mega projects like high speed rail. We may assume it's the glorious centralist socialist desire for big ticket extravaganza; China can do it so why not dear little UK? And in that respect it not just the left who thinks that way as our dopey Chancellor, George Osborne, does too.

Following severe criticism of the corporate IT world North then takes things forward by offering a practical and local solution to the problem. For that is really the summary of it all. The corprate world which our present political elite worship versus the people whom they loathe. And here's another example. The expansion, or not of Heathrow. Time to remind ourselves that the MP for Putney, Justine Greening, was elected because of her opposition to Heathrow matched that of the electorate.

Alas trying to represent your consituents makes you unpopular with the Prime Minister and in time David Cameron sacked Greening from a cabinet position for doing just that. And the reason was? Well you see Cameron has made up his mind that he does not like 'Boris island', the solution offered by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. It's said by the projects opponents, and that would include some from the PM's office, that the MoL has got this all wrong. Not least because it is so expensive. But then so is HS2 a project the PM has got all wrong!

But the leaks are flowing. The business editor for the Telegraph, Kamal Ahmed, has got hold of this -

It's time for Boris Airport to be gracefully retired. Together with the proposal for a hyper-speed Maglev train running alongside the M25 should go the Estuary option – a dream of an idea that should remain just that.

Ahmed always gets the leaks, there was a time when jealous fellow journalists described him as Campbell Ahmed. From the time when Alistair Campbell fed him all the leaks from the Blair years. Hence what we see is not one mans opinion but simply propoganda. And it's clumsy and well flawed.

For example in the event of Boris island going ahead Heasthrow would have closed and been redeveloped. You might have thought the business world would jump at the chance, saying how the outcome will put London ahead of Paris and Berlin and how other cities are envious. But no! We are told -

The west of London would be a building site for decades to come.

This is pathetic. All big cities find themselves in a near permanent state of renewal. It cannot be taken seriopsly from a government contemplating several new towns. And more -

A report by the councils of Ealing, Hounslow and Slough – not historic fans of Heathrow expansion – will say that any closure of Britain’s biggest airport would devastate the local economy.

This one's easy, there's a world of difference between local people and local councils. The latter may pretend to represent the former but fall prey to intense lobbying from business and that's what we have got here. For local people when given a chance vote for candidates like Justine Greening who oppose Heathrow expansion. And -

the geographical implications of moving the UK’s main airport to an island 60 miles from the city it is supposed to serve. How it would have coped with last Thursday’s devastating coastal storm surge is anyone’s guess

As Birmingham airport diverted traffic during the storm we guess that a coastal airport could do the same. The tidal surges are relatively rare events what is much more common is winter weather. Again we may guess that this winter snow will close Heathrow, as it usually does! Finally the real reason slips out -

debate that once centred on noise pollution is now becoming more focused – rightly – on the economics (the estuary option will cost tens of billions of pounds of public money) and the business case (corporates want to fly from an airport close to London).

So noise pollution counts for nothing then? And as said before the cost of HS2 makes the estuary option look like a good deal so that's the 'economic' case stuffed. But it's what the corporates want! So we got there in the end. The quality of life, public money, what ever you may wish to include into this 'debate' count for nothing so long as the corporates have the ear of government.

Which takes us back to Cohen and North and the failure you get, economic as well as democratic, when government and corporates come together. The corporates know there is no real risk for them and the public will be forced to pay for their mistakes. Hence the need for another way of governing the UK. It's called direct democracy.