By Brian Cloughly · 8 May 2009
Britain is in a sad state. Sure, the Taliban are not swarming at the gates of London, nor is there famine (although there are too many hungry families), volcanic eruptions or plague (at least, so far). But the United Kingdom is suffering from a crippling sickness, socially and morally.
In London, in what used to be known as the Mother of Parliaments, 646 grubby bumptious politicians whoop it up in a handout regime of unstinted financial generosity, designed and monitored by themselves and funded by the public. Their sordid antics include defrauding the British taxpayer by claiming vast expenses for houses as second homes. In one case a cabinet minister – the home secretary, no less – claimed a room in her sister’s flat as a second residence and scooped up over 200,000 dollars.
They provide jobs for relatives in various gainful ways: for example, the home secretary’s husband is one of her staff, getting $60,000 a year from the taxpayer and trying to have his rental of pornographic movies paid for by public funds. (You couldn’t make this up.) The record of morally fraudulent cheating schemes is extensive. Almost all of them are at it, and few have the slightest sense of guilt.
In an unsurprising finding, a recent poll of Britons indicated that “Less than a quarter believe government ministers are trustworthy [and only] 21 per cent trust politicians in general.” As observed by the main character in the splendid 1980s TV series ‘Yes, Prime Minister’: “being a Member of Parliament is a vast subsidised ego trip. It’s a job that needs no qualifications, that has no compulsory hours of work, no performance standards, and provides a warm room and subsidised meals to a bunch of self-important windbags and busybodies who find people taking them seriously because they’ve got the letters MP after their names.”
Politicians are barely affected by the financial crisis, being highly-paid, with vast expenses that they need not account for. But most British citizens are suffering from the economic chaos which was brought about by slavering greedheads in gutter-worthy organisations whose craving for money has been exceeded in intensity only by their contempt for the people they have swindled for so long. They are the sleazebags of whom a particularly repulsive member of the governing Labour Party said “we are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.” (This little prat charged the public four thousand dollars for installation of a shower in one of his houses; no wonder he’s happy about being rich.)
Britain’s rich-list of ‘Lords’ and ‘Sirs’ is long indeed, and many of them bought their titles by the medium of financial donations or generally sucking up to the ruling political party. For there is little difference between machine politicians in Britain’s Labour and Tory parties : they’ll do almost anything for cash. But they won’t lift a manicured finger for those who have demonstrated total loyalty to Britain.
The British army has had Gurkhas from Nepal serving in it for almost 200 years. They are fine soldiers, having won no fewer than 13 Victoria Crosses, Britain's highest award for gallantry, and have a well-deserved reputation for fidelity to the British Crown. They are also highly respected by the British population – or, that is, by those of the British population who are not politicians. Unbelievably, the Mother of Parliaments, having been begged to let these soldiers stay in Britain as residents, in April managed to find ways to make it almost impossible for most of them to do so. (Although, to give it its due, the tiny Liberal Party is trying to shame the government into action.)
These tiny-minded sods, these professional politicians who have never heard a shot fired in anger and whose idea of loyalty is confined to having their families and cronies latch on to the public purse, have the nerve, the audacity, the vulgar impudence, to deny the Gurkhas citizenship. What a bunch of tawdry third-rate twerps.
And the lawmakers have ensured that Britain’s civil service has been politicised to a considerable extent. The ideal of independent advice by impartial officials has been under severe attack, and loathsome creepy creatures abound, like the close adviser to the prime minister who was discovered to be plotting to spread sickening stories about the government’s opponents. It is astonishing that this man was being paid by the taxpayer; but this is new modern Britain. His name is Damian McBride, and he conspired to spread rumours that, for example, the leader of the Conservatives, the main opposition party, had had a sexually-transmitted disease. There are many sick aspects of this affair, but the main disease is in the mind of the person who conjured up such nauseating bilge.
There is no basis to claims by other government-employed spin-merchants, via friendly journalists, that the grimy McBride was acting without the indulgence of Britain’s prime minister, the less than charismatic and decidedly less than competent Gordon Brown. McBride was one of his most intimate advisers, and had been so for ten years. To imagine that Brown was unaware of his moral character and taste for despicable gutter activity is to stretch credulity beyond reasonable limits.
And it’s not only in politics that there is fraud, deception, spin and smearing. The British police forces, until quite recently regarded as at least fairly trustworthy, have sunk to astonishing depths of barbarity and deceit. The agencies of the law are out of control, having been given vast authority by a bunch of cosseted politicians whose loyalty is first to their purses and next to staying in power. Their behaviour at a recent demonstration in London was bizarrely brutal, and, in a twist of hideousness, there was a most suspicious in-house post mortem examination of the body of a newspaper-seller whose death they apparently caused.
At first it was announced that he had died of a heart attack. But then a second, independent, examination, found that he had died from internal bleeding following a police beating. All very nasty, and followed, as usual, by a smear. The story was spread that the man was an alcoholic – which he was – as if this in some way excused the police from attacking him when he was walking away from them with his hands in his pockets.
The shambles over the recent arrest of a number of people alleged to have been in some sort of doomsday conspiracy against Britain would be a great joke were it not evidence of appalling incompetence – and sadly indicative of how low the country has sunk.
Last week British police released 11 Pakistani students whom they had arrested two weeks before in a “counter-terrorism” raid. Despite prime minister Brown stupidly and publicly prejudging the affair as “a very big terrorist plot,” the police found no evidence of wrong-doing. No bombs, no bomb-making material, no guns, no plot; nothing. And we can be certain they would have gone through the houses and belongings of these men with the finest of fine-toothed combs.
But they are going to be deported, anyway. After all, an official had told the BBC that the arrests were made because police believed there were plans for a “very, very, big attack with possible al-Qaeda links”, so something must be done to persuade the public that they are evil. But where’s the proof? An official said the government was “seeking to remove [deport] these individuals on grounds of national security.” So although they can’t be charged with an offence they are still considered guilty of something or other, which of course we can’t be told about, and they’ll have to suffer.
Malice in Blunderland.
This weird episode resembles another fiasco in March when five people were arrested under the terrorism act and then released after much alarmist rubbish was spread about how dangerous they were. One fatuous statement by the police was that “As the search [of their homes] progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well as material relating to political ideology.”
That was a lie. No weapons were found. The British police tried to deceive the public, and none of the five was charged with any terrorist offence, although they were detained for days. (But the police managed to get some of them on other charges : never fear, Britons, your security and safety are being well looked after.) And the idea that anyone in Britain can be tarred with the ever-ready "national security" brush for having "material relating to political activity" is chilling.
There used to be something called British Justice which, although creaky and slightly flawed, stood firmly for the principle of innocence until proven guilty. Nowadays when someone is prejudged but then found to be innocent, thereby showing politicians and police to be pathetically incompetent and stupid, the tactic is to defame the victims by any possible means. The technique of the smear has been cultivated, and the police take the example straight from the prime minister’s office.
Britain has grave economic and social problems; but its biggest crisis is a moral one. And there seems to be precious little hope of recovery.
By Brian Cloughley. Cloughly is a commentator on political and military affairs, specializing in South Asia, and is South Asia defense analyst for Jane's Sentinel, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He can be reached at [email protected]
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