by John Ward
An occasional series aimed at those who suspect they’re being told lies about pretty much everything but are too busy to check. It is not aimed at fluffies, feminists, diehard Remainers, globalists, socialists, neoliberals, metropolitan bubble dwellers and Treasury officials, as the Truth makes all of them feel very uncomfortable, and we don’t want that, do we?
On BBC Parliament the other day, there was an interview with Kenneth Clarke, a former UK education minister.
“My senior civil servants were always going on at me to visit more schools,” he explained, “something I felt less than enthusiastic about. This is of course Standard Whitehall procedure when the civil service thinks you might actually achieve something to which they’re opposed: get the Minister out of the office for a few days in order to push through stuff that’s irreversible”.
This was very much my own experience when working with ministerial civil servants on advertising strategy for this or that policy. So I have been amused over the last few days by the often adverse reaction to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s entirely credible accusation that Treasury officials have – from the moment a referendum on EU membership was granted – been modelling outcomes deliberately using assumptions that would suggest that voting Leave was a recipe for disaster.
Querying the likelihood of Mogg’s allegations is a sure sign that the doubter knows absolutely nothing about how Whitehall works – the arrogance, the complacency, the incompetence, the utter certainty that they know better….and then the silence when they’re proved wrong. Every post-referendum prediction they made has proved to be groundless, but the “bent” analyses won’t go away: I do not know of a single senior mandarin in Whitehall who wants to leave the EU.
While other EU member States were being sent memos saying that Brexit will be so disastrous for Britain, a new wave of Teutonic austerity is coming to the eurozone, France continues to pour money into its infrastructural investment pot with little or no decrease in the rate of flow.
To quote the Commission’s own website, “France continues to receive excellent ratings for its road, rail and air infrastructure, putting it amongst the EU top performers for these indicators. France has completed 99% of its conventional rail Core Network and 98% of its road Core Network. With more than 2000 km of high speed railway lines, France has the second longest high speed rail network in the EU, which it plans to expand further in 2017 with the Tours-Bordeaux and Nimes-Montpellier connections.”
I can confirm that it has done so. As well as raising €2.2 billion in airports alone from private sources, over the next few years France plans to invest a further €34.8 billion of Government and EU slush in techno updates, the road network, tourism restoration projects and agriculture.
I have blogged on this many times before, but the reality bears repetition: the ENAC crème de la crème bureaucrats who run France have a very simple objective – to prepare France for the end of the EU gravy-train, and ensure its self-sufficiency.
Berlin, of course, has been onto this scam for several years. Even the EU-adoring BBC reported last June that ‘The Berlin government does not want German taxpayers to have to underwrite high spending elsewhere in the EU without oversight….Chancellor Merkel is striking a balance, forging an alliance with Mr Macron but keeping a close eye on the German electorate”.
Last September, Emmanuel Macron was talking about “trimming” the French investment budget. That’s as far as it got. By November, the FT was reportingthat ‘Emmanuel Macron’s first budget as French president risks running foul of EU spending rules in an embarrassment for the new government which has vowed to meet Brussels targets in its first year in office….the European Commission said France’s fiscal plans for 2018 were at risk of not meeting the EU’s debt reduction target next year and its efforts to shrink its structural deficit were falling short over the next two years.”
What else is new?
The French are taking the piss, as they always have in their relations with Germany. One very real possibility over the next few years is that – despite Macron’s hardline credentials as an EU federalist – he will not be able to sell the ultimate version made flesh to the French People….and perhaps even before that, pressure from AfD in Germany will force Berlin to get tough with Paris. That isn’t going to play well.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Germany has now been without a Government of any kind for five months….so clearly, the Herrenvolk are completely united about Brexit, migrants, ClubMed austerity and myriad other pressing topics.
Last year, around £170 million of foreign aid went from the UK to India. The Indian economy grew 7.8% in 2017….a whopping rise over the 6.7% of the previous year. Those figures, by the way, are from the Times of India – but in the paper version I read last week in Goa, so I can’t as yet offer you a link to it…because there doesn’t seem to be one.
My intent here is not in any way to support nutjob Far Right sites, but rather to introduce some common sense into decisions about foreign aid. To be frank, in the greater scheme of things, £170 million is neither here nor there: it represents one thousandth of the cost of the NHS. But I would like to present some facts you may not know about:
- The Indian economy is booming on the basis of lax credit lending, to the advantage mainly of a social class already doing better than most
- The Indian caste system is a blatantly skin-colour based form of crude racism that keeps the very poor in their unenviable position
- Indian investment in the development of the poorest is risible, and based largely on starving them of basic education
- The neoliberal disregard for social investment is creating a level of uncontrolled emissions and appalling pollution
- There is a new-rich sector of Indian society that consumes in an uncaring manner, and makes a mockery of aid from outside. The Delhi Government should look to its responsibility to share out the country’s wealth more equally….not keep on calling reduced aid “racism”.
- Every WC in India gives testament to the lack of thought given to water conservation. Every plastic bottle of drinking water demonstrates the lack of investment in potable piped water. The plastic disposal problem alone is one of epidemic proportions.
- Far from dealing with serious air pollution problems, India is racing ahead with ill-coordinated road construction projects designed to attract Big Business, not take into account the health of Indian citizens.
The British ruling class would do well to examine the credentials of the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A lifelong member of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Party, Modi has tried to raise foreign direct investment in the Indian economy and reduced spending on healthcare and social welfare programmes. He moved swiftly to centralise power through the abolition of the regional planning commission, and weakened or abolished most environmental and labour laws.
£170 million, as I said, is a spit in the ocean. But in the British context, those monies could give 10,000 destitute British female pensioners £170 tax free each to relieve at least some of their pressing anxieties.
I am not an opponent of Third World aid. I do, however, increasingly believe that it should be conditional on the basis of who is most likely to benefit from it.