Most of us know there are limits to what we can afford. We manage our daily budgets with an eye on our income. We know that the taxman has the right to grab loads of money first. We know we have to pay the mortgage and whatever ransom payment the local Council and the utility companies demand. We concentrate on trying to balance the rest of the budget so we don’t end up with a large overdraft or credit card debt.
Ministers in this government think they can behave totally differently when it comes to spending the nation’s money. This week-end there has been no question about whether the taxpayer can afford to take on risks from yet another mortgage bank, just an attempt to spin that this time will be cheaper because it is “not a bail out”.
Meanwhile in their personal conduct some ministers show the same lack of respect for taxpayers money. It’s not just the questionable claims for their own living expenses, which attract so much attention. It is the whole army of extra “Parliamentary” assistants, case workers, secretaries and the like charged to the taxpayer, along with the massive expansion of the civil service and quangoland. The biggest increases in the costs of MPs have come from a big expansion in the numbers and pay bill of Parliamentary staff, and the new army of auditors and box tickers that have been employed to chronicle it all. It is all symptomatic of a governing party which thinks public money grows on trees, and they own the orchard. Or maybe now it’s just the result of their discovery that printing money takes the waiting out of wanting.
Parliament has become a perfect mirror to Labour’s public sector. More cost, less delivery.