Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Britains, One public, one private


So middle Britain has been doubly betrayed. First, all those stealth taxes since 1997 didn't give us properly reformed public services. Our schools still under-perform: expensive new buildings are no substitute for tackling outdated working practices and LEA bureaucracy. Classes are closed in term-time for staff training. My local NHS Trust diverts cash from beds and drugs to employ a "Director of Civic Engagement". Only half of Britain's fire engines carry a defibrillator while half a billion pounds is wasted on regional fire control centres, announced in 2000 but now not ready until 2011.

But second, we're now told that all this isn't in fact sustainable. In Monday's mini-budget we learnt that we must pay even more; in fact, half of all taxpayers will have to pay more in two years' time to bail out our bankrupt public finances. New Labour's contract with middle Britain has been truly shattered. Hard-working families struggling in a recession must pay higher National Insurance to fund bureaucrats who can't be sacked, however inefficient, whose pay is index-linked and whose pensions are worth three times as much as theirs.