Jacqui Smith; discuss. David Aaronovitch did yesterday in his Times column. Aaronovitch, it seems to me, has been waiting for an opportunity to present his readers with a defence of the institutionalised corruption of parliamentary perks. This opportunity has eluded him for some time, because he knows full well that even his powers of sophistic argument cannot defend shameless fiddling by the political classes. But, lo and behold, Smith's porn-on-the-taxpayers' tab suddenly suggested itself. 'Our stinking prurience' roars Dave, 'will bring about the subornation of public servants.' Because 'the media and the public will always find something to condemn in what MPs were getting up to'.
This made me think: hang on, Dave, you're a decaffeinated Marxist and fervent Blairite social democrat, you've spent most of your life banging on about 'The People'. But isn't it funny how when the chips are down, according to Dave, 'The People' are almost always wrong? In other words 'The People' don't deserve or shouldn't want to know that their Home Secretary has effectively embezzled 100,000 pounds by claiming her sister's spare bedroom is her main home and they don't deserve or shouldn't want to know that every tiny expense, from a bath plug to pornography, is being coughed up by 'The People'. They ought not want to know that the House of Lords has peers prepared to direct their activities in any direction for five grand an hour.
Comrade Aaronovitch hasn't had much to say about that strange contradiction in his political thought. Instead, he snatched at the opportunity afforded by those journalists disapproving of paid-for porn to show how open-minded he is about porn. Good luck to him. He's looked at porn in his time, I have and so's everyone else. So what? I don't care that it was porn, I care who paid for the porn.
He seems very exercised by 'hypocrisy' of journalists disapproving of pornography. But has he ever railed against the hypocrisy of journalists who laid down at the feet of Alistair Campbell and new Labour and entered into what was effectively a conspiracy to deceive their readers?*
Dave deplores that the political class (Labour, Lib Dem and Tory) is now liable to be exposed to further public derision because a database containng a trove of expenses abuses, fiddles and sharp practice is being hawked round the the national newspapers. He says The People's 'stinking prurience' has created a market for this database and the subornation of public servants. As Rigsby used to say in Rising Damp: 'Myyyyyyyyyyyyy God!' Let me tell you something, Davey boy, the subornation of public servants really got going when politics became a gold-dusted, perk-encrusted career and not a vocation for people who had useful life experience, principles and wisdom.
One of the problems, if not the problem with powerful socialists/social democrats is that money, though the most important thing in their lives, is not actually very real to them. Where money comes from is not a matter of first or even secondary importance; where it goes is terribly important. There's always some more to be requisitioned from somewhere and anyone who asks any questions about this is decidedly infra dig. This all comes out of the studied money snobbery of the educated centre-left classes who came of age under the Thatcher years. Very few of them, it seems to me, have lived hand-to-mouth on money they have chiselled out of working in normal jobs outside the public sector, which is the only way to really understand money and how ordinary people, new Labour's 'hard-working families' aka 'The People', think about it. The greatest example of this is Gordon Brown, whose one big idea to solve the 'Crunch is to burn The People's money (their future earnings) to get another debt boom (aka the British Economy) going again.
Talking of which, the G20 party might as well go home without meeting. The French and the Germans disagree with Gordon and Barack and that's that. Hardly a cosy love-in of one-world-ism...
On the political right, Simon Heffer in the Telegraph addresses the same issue at Aaronovitch, and makes slightly more sense, but his column soon sinks into a dreary political speech about 'reform'. Given the sort of people currently in politics and those bubbling under (who I suspect will prove to be even more shameless) how can MPs reform themselves? I don't believe it is possible.
*source: Private information and Peter Oborne's Triumph of the Political Class; Simon & Schuster 2007, pages 233 onwards.