Bureaucrats – the real power in our country?
No, we’re not ‘there’ yet: July 4th is still well over a week away. With ‘Hancock’s Daily Stint’ on our TV screens now gone, the MSM find it difficult to change gears and get back to the ‘new normal. While there are ‘reports’ on how gyms and hairdressers are planning to cope and on how pubs and restaurants are hoping to provide us with food and drink, there’s the first ‘warning’ by government on ‘price gouging’. Getting back our very much curtailed freedom doesn’t mean our beloved bureaucrats will trust us to use our common sense. Shop owners, small business owners or simply ordinary people trying to get back to work, trying to get back to normal: we cannot be trusted.
Predictably, ‘Our MSM’ have shied away from taking a closer look at the Whitehall machinery which produced and enforced the rules according to which we spent the last 94 days. It’s a common principle that bureaucrats tend to enlarge their bureaucratic empire and that they’ll never reduce their power to strangle us with red tape.
We also know from bitter experience that Whitehall believes the money we ‘re forced to give them, money earned from our work and taken away through taxation, is theirs to play with. They feel they can distribute it as and how they like. “Clawing back” their generous gift is less about giving us peasants ‘value for money’ but more about keeping their bony fingers around our throats. Here’s the latest example:
“Businesses have been warned by ministers not to hike their prices to make up for customers lost through social distancing as they have already been given billions of pounds by the taxpayer.” (link)
The CV-19 rules under which these businesses are permitted to operate incur costs for buying physical protection and employing security staff – costs which they need to meet even if fewer paying customers will be able to attend. Now see the government warning:
“Nadhim Zahawi, the business minister, said: “We have said we will monitor any bad behaviour in terms of price gouging and we will keep a very close eye on that and take action. That is not something businesses should be contemplating. We will stamp it out. […] We have given over £10bn in grants to small businesses and £28bn in the bounce back loan scheme, and so there has been a lot of support from the taxpayer. There is also the VAT deferral, the business rates holiday, so the taxpayer has given them enormous support.” (link)
But – weren’t these businesses forced to close, generating no income? Wasn’t this government support meant to provide living costs for them and their employees? What about the enormous support taxpayers have given to all civil servants who were sent home on full salaries, doing nothing much at all and still wanting more, as the despicable wrangling about school openings demonstrates?
There’s more. In their zeal to damage the PM any way they can, ‘Our MSM’ have been utterly derelict in their duties to scrutinise those other parts of government: the HoC and Whitehall. Our elected peacocks have been allowed to get away with murder, unscrutinised. While businesses are being admonished to be grateful for the crumbs from the Treasury’s money trees MPs were given £10,000 to install an electronic ‘work from home’ set-up. Tax free. No-one asked if ordinary workers in the private sector were given similar grants or allowances: they were presumably all going to use their private PCs – something which apparently could not be expected from our MPs.
Worse though is that, even so, those peacocks didn’t do their duty to scrutinise government. We recall the Mogg Conga, the attempt by the Leader of the House to get MPs back into the HoC. Strangely enough, there has been no criticism of the Speaker that I’m aware of. It was he who insisted on cocooning all those MPs.
Thus, our elected peacocks, thanks to electronic voting from home, have themselves undermined their democratic function. The Johnson-Starmer ‘show’ may be entertaining for the Westminster Bubble Dwellers but even the odd report here and there about Select Committee inquiries cannot hide the fact that, just as in all the years of our EU membership, the HoC isn’t doing what it should do: scrutinise government legislation.
It is always surprising when authors let slip some shocking information buried amidst some disturbing general points made about the loss of our civil liberties. Philip Johnson writes on this subject in the DT, sadly paywalled. After listing all the ‘pettifogging’ rules which have made our lives a misery and which will continue to do so unless rescinded, he asks:
“what about Parliament: when will it go back to proper functioning? Now that voting is carried out remotely or by proxy, do we ever see the old system returning or a full complement of MPs allowed back to Westminster? What will that mean for the scrutiny of legislation which was never especially well done and has been almost non-existent in recent weeks? Research by the Hansard Society think tank found that more than 90 pieces of legislation, including significant restrictions on people’s freedoms, were pushed through without parliamentary scrutiny. We have lost a great deal in the past few months. We cannot dispense with our democracy as well.” (paywalled link)
In my, a humble peasant’s opinion, we’ve already ‘dispensed with our democracy’. It’s not just the HoC and Westminster which are to be blamed – blame also rests firmly on the shoulders of ‘Our MSM’. They’ve told us that their task is to ‘scrutinise government’, by which they meant: ‘attack Johnson and his cabinet’ every day during ‘Hancock’s Hour. For them, ‘to scrutinise’ meant ‘create as many gotcha incidents as possible’.
Looking at the failure of Parliament to scrutinise legislation is apparently not in the remit of ‘Our MSM’. Thus they have failed us, thus they have failed our democracy, and thus they have enabled the regime of unelected, unaccountable ‘experts’ and Whitehall bureaucrats.
It’s not by accident that one Mandarin, the Mandarin of Mandarins, Sir Mark Sedwill, has hardly got any mention at all in any critical Lockdown reports in ‘Our MSM’. He is only named when there’s another occasion for having a go at Dominic Cummings, shown by the latest rumbling in the jungle that is Whitehall.
It’s always entertaining to observe how the mighty MSM journalists are copying from selected blogs if they’re not copying from each other. At least The Times, in their Anti-Cummings article (link, paywalled) acknowledges that their report is based on an item in Conservative Home (here). It’s about Cummings’ attempt to clip the wings of Mandarins, and lo and behold, The Times augments their piece by quoting … ‘senior sources’:
“A senior figure said: “They are definitely gunning for the Cabinet Office. There was a lot of frustration that this Rolls-Royce turned out to be anything but when it was actually put to the test when Covid hit.” Mr Cummings’s critics will suspect an effort to line up the civil service as a scapegoat. Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, has already been a target of hostile briefing. He is blamed for encouraging politicians to claim at the start of the crisis that the UK was the best-prepared country.” (link, paywalled)
The Times article mentions a paper by the Think Tank ‘Civitas’ published today. It’s 45 pages long so I’ve not been able to read it this morning. However, the quote below shows nicely that all of us who’ve been questioning and criticising the whole Lockdown theatre were correct in being mistrustful, that we were correct when trying to look at the hands pulling the strings of the puppets that are our elected ministers. Here’s a preliminary quote to whet your appetite:
“The UK response to the pandemic brought to the fore the demands of ‘The Blob’, a small set of scientists supported by a managerialist Whitehall culture. In that environment, Secretaries of State no longer acted as ‘principals’ in making policy and law, but rather as ‘agents’ of a network of high- level officials and advisers within the civil service. […] Ministers appeared to surrender their decision-making responsibilities to the NERVTAG-SAGE network, reporting into the government through COBR and its advice then received as sacrosanct.” (link)
I’ll look at this document in detail, for tomorrow’s column. It is more than high time to start asking serious questions about who runs our country: our elected representatives or the Whitehall ‘blob’ of unaccountable Mandarins, of “senior sources” who whisper negative briefings to ‘Our MSM’ and about the role ‘Our MSM’ have been and are playing in this subterranean war to dismantle our democracy.
Photo by Bosc d’Anjou