A new unaccountable political class at all levels of government with its snouts firmly in the trough
Nothing demonstrates the difference between Big Government and Big Society better than the protests emanating from British Local Government fat cats
Gordon Brown deliberately left a toxic debt for the incoming Government in May 2010. Having spent thirteen years maxing out the British credit card, even during the early good years left by the previous Administration, Brown indulged in a final spending spurt in the dying days of his discredited and corrupt regime. His hope was that the Tories would become the next Government and suffer from all of his errors, leading to another General Election that he would win and firmly establish a One Party State.
During the years of scandal and disgrace, that was the Blair Brown Regime, what went largely unnoticed was the significant change in the political class. It finally began to emerge when the Parliamentary Expenses scandal dominated attention. The electors for the first time came to see how a professional and unaccountable political class had established itself and dug deep into the public funds. The anger and revulsion that this unfolding scandal caused amongst electors resulted in a sound thrashing for the national socialist Labour Party at the polls, but created the Brokeback Coalition because voters were also angry at expenses abuse by Whig and Tory MPs. Since May 2010, and the change of Government, more details have emerged and the first prosecutions have worked through the courts with MPs being jailed for crimes. That has diverted attention from Local Government.
Conveniently, Local Government fat cats have inadvertently turned the spotlight on their own greed.
In attempting to make the Government unpopular, Local Authorities have responded to reductions in the money they receive from Central Government by slashing front line services to the most vulnerable. They had hoped that the electors would punish the Coalition at a local level, but they have only succeeded in demonstrating just how far abuse has spread through local government.
A host of very undistinguished local government officials are paying themselves more than the Prime Minister receives and some are receiving close to twice as much. Not one of them has followed the Coalition Government example of cutting their own salaries and several have responded to the serious public spending problems by increasing their already bloated earnings.
What most authorities have done is apply all of the short fall in funds to libraries, social services, care in the community and education, so that they can keep their own life styles and the army of non-job employees who have swollen the local government labour force.
This is a demonstration of Big Government at its greedy worst and contrasts with the old British traditions of public service and voluntary service which some describe as the Big Society.
The Big Society once thrived and ensured low taxation and civil liberty. People either gave their skills free of charge or accepted lower earnings to serve in the public sector. Councilors did not even receive expenses. Council employees did essential work for the community. They frequently earned less than private sector employees but they had a dependable employment and a respectable pension with a slightly earlier retirement age. The rubbish was collected on time every week and in some areas more frequently. Social housing was built and maintained. Libraries and swimming pools were built and cared for. A local authority did not intrude into the life of the average citizen. This goes a long way to explaining why local taxes were so much lower than they are today across Britain. It also explains why crime was lower and people demonstrated respect for others and discipline for themselves. It was not an idyllic Utopia, but it was a civilized society where people cared. Neighbours looked out for each other and families cared for their young and old.
The changes from Big Society to Big Government probably began during the Heath Administration which did so much damage to Britain. The Tories appointed a leader who they thought was like Labour’s Wilson in the belief that this was the only way to win at elections. Unsurprisingly they got a continuation of Wilsonian policy, passing sovereignty to Brussels and expanding Big Government. The Thatcher Government did return power to the people, and cut public waste but the first priority was to restore the economy after it was trashed by a Labour Government, and returning power to the electorate from the Trade Union barons. Insufficient effort was put into combating the rise of the greedy professional politicians. After Thatcher the professional politician has largely replaced those who see Government as an opportunity to serve the people.
The first problem created by Big Government is that it seeks to expand its grasp over the citizens by passing a flood of legislation and expanding the bureaucracy that supports the legislation and bears down on the people. In the process it replaces unpaid or low paid volunteers with highly paid bureaucrats. That new expenditure has to be paid for by public borrowing or by raising taxes. For every £1000 required to pay the bureaucrats, the politicians have to raise £2100 to pay themselves and related overheads. As Government expands the funds requirement grows by billions and more than doubles to cover the overheads, greed and corruption.
To insulate themselves from the anger of the citizens, the politicians pass new laws to control every aspect of the lives of ordinary citizens. The use of on-the-spot fines for the most trivial new offences is not enough to maintain control and avoid accountability to achieve this, it is also necessary to establish a huge programme of patronage so that more and more citizens depend for their existence on the State. That requires even more money to fund government and leads to increasing public borrowing and taxation of the people.
Eventually every national socialist regime hits the buffers. The Blair Brown Regime were found out at least in part by the electors. However, the process of returning power to the people is never painless. Trillions of pounds have to be taken out of public debt and people need to be encouraged to join the Big Society and turn their backs on greed. The surviving fat cats will try to make this process as painful as possible.