Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mandelson attacked over party on yacht

Given the way New Labour ruthlessly capitalised on so-called "Tory sleaze", perhaps I am squeamish in wishing the Conservatives would stop banging on about such stories? Mandy's socialising is perhaps more serious than the ridiculous damp squib of "David Blunkett and the A Level results", but it's still pathetically trivial. The current government is perhaps the worst in modern history. it is ludicrous that HM Opposition flails about like this while failing to land a solid political punch.

Public life in Britain is remarkably puritanical. No-one outside the UK ever believes me when I tell them that we charge the Prime Minister rent for his Downing Street flat. Most heads of government are much more lavishly accommodated, and all at public expense. The idea of Schroeder or Putin paying their own way is beyond the comprehension of Germans or Russians. I don't even dare mention such concepts to French friends. Chirac has been housed in spectacular style at their expense since before most French people were born.

Britain can be a very mean-spirited place. I am all for high standards in public life, but given that all but the most moronic MP's are losing out financially by being in Parliament, I think we could usefully leave the subject of their salaries, expenses and perks alone and focus instead on what value they deliver.

It's odd that the effective repeal of Magna Carta and the introduction of draconian police state powers excites only a few "liberati", while an EU Commissioner dining on a billionaire's yacht, a Home Secretary getting his mistress pregnant, or a Prime Minister holidaying at the expense of wealthier friends gets everyone excited.

The revelation over the weekend that the Prime Minister gave political undertakings to Rupert Murdoch should have been enough to bring the government down in a functioning democracy. Yet it went unnoticed in the "scandal" of his describing fellow-Celts as "the fucking Welsh". Our political priorities are askew.

Telegraph | News | Mandelson attacked over party on yacht

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