Saturday, December 03, 2011

The arrogance of office

"What conclusions and how much, exactly, is each Member State liable under the budget for the European Defence Agency? Oh, and when do the people get to voice their agreement on those decisions?"

So writes Witterings from Witney, making the obvious point but, sadly, insufficiently expressed by the world at large, that this is another of those issues where the UK incurs substantial expenditure, but where the people have never been consulted as to whether they wish to make such payments.

The more one looks at the conduct of the government, the more apparent – and glaring – these anomalies become. Inherent in the result of the general election is the assumption that, in electing one or other party to government, we automatically and necessarily approve the budget plans for the next five years, or authorise our MPs to approve them.

But, as anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the system knows, the budget approval process has become a meaningless rubber stamp. The annual budget is barely scrutinised, and approved automatically along party lines.

It is thus the case that included in the budget each year are payments, such as to the EDA budget, that few people would approve, and for which no meaningful approval has ever been sought.

But there are also some payments of which most people actively disapprove, and given the opportunity, would actively vote against them. One such is the aid given to India, explored in depth in an article in The Daily Mail yesterday.

Even after making allowance for the paper's rhetorical style and frequent exaggeration (although not necessarily here), most people find the continued donation of our hard-earned money to India to be quite offensive. And when as it appears here, there is little effective scrutiny and much of that money is wasted, the offence multiplies.

Yet, such is the arrogance of office that we are never consulted, never asked. What we think is quite irrelevant. Even though people in Britain are going short, our masters have decided that India should be given £1.4 billion of our money, regardless. This is intolerable.

Needless to say, the government can do this because it has the power, and because there are not enough people prepared to expose themselves directly to the wrath of government by refusing payments.

But this is not always going to be the case. We are experiencing increasingly hard times, and the obscenity of such payments becomes more and more apparent.

It would be an unwise government which relied on the tolerance and good nature of the electorate as a mandate for its continued, profligate, and totally unwarranted expenditure – expenditure which has no democratic mandate.

Even the British people can be pushed too far.