Thursday, June 04, 2009

I haven't been near a TV for a few hours so I don't know whether Gordon Brown is still the British Prime Minister. But I wouldn't take a bet on it. The Labour party seems bent on getting rid of him pretty promptly, apparently without realising that they're sealing the fate of the party in the process. Only a fusion of the right wing of the Labour party with the Liberal Democrats to form a true left-of-centre social democratic party makes any real sense in today's times. But I guess the ghost of the SDP debacle hovers over this. So we can expect to see the Labour party march over a cliff during the next 12 months. What an inglorious - but utterly predictable - end to the sham experiment of New Labour.

Talking of which . . . A week or two ago, I cited Simon Jenkins book on British politics of the last 30 years - "Thatcher and Sons". His thesis is that Mrs T revolutionised the UK in two ways:- 1. She liberalised and dynamised the economy by, inter alia, privatising much that was in the ownership of the state, and 2. She compensated for loss of ownership by increasing government control via a process of relentless centralisation which was continued by Major and Blair and was always going to be brought to its apogee by the manic Mr Brown. Thus the Age of the Bureaucrat - with its crazy targets and its mad acronyms - was actually started in the 80s and has continued, under 3 prime ministers, ever since. With each one of them trying to outdo his predecessor when it came to centralising power, destroying local democracy and making daily life horrendous for hundreds and thousands of Brits. As Jenkins says, the real irony (tragedy) is that this has all led to far higher costs because the government and quasi-governmental bureacracies established to set and monitor the targets know only one way of working - expensively.

I could quote from almost every page of the book but will resist the temptation. I'll just mention a passage in which he refers to a visit Blair made to the USA in 1993, duing which time President Clinton stressed that modern politics is all about charismatic leadership. If so, then at least Britain and Spain have something in common right now- no evidence at all of such a thing. Though Sr Zapatero probably shades it from Mr Rajoy. Who?

Someone else you might not know is Heather Brooke. Thanks to an article in El País, I now know it was this journalist who did all the hard work to shine a light on the expense abuses of British MPs, for which The Daily Telegraph is now getting all the kudos. She must be seriously upset.

One of Spain's most famous judges has been fined 100 euros for an error which resulted in the flight of a major drug dealer. I wonder if he got the same prompt-payment discount of 30% I was given yesterday when I found a Banco Santander bank that wasn't packed to the gunwales.

I put a corduroy jacket in for repair last week, in one of those little Spanish shops which have disappeared from the UK scene. When I picked it up this morning, I was rather nonplussed to see they'd merely stitched a patch over the hole near the breast pocket and, to say the least, it wasn't flush with the rest of the garment. When I showed it to my lawyer friend, Elena, at lunch to guage her reaction, she merely asked me if I'd done it myself.

And I'd thought things were beginning to get better.

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