Before getting to the main point of this post - and as the 'breaking of laws' is in the news - let us spend a few minutes on this man who is Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General. Francis Maude was mentioned in the Daily Telegraph's 'Expenses Files' and questions raised over two properties he owns, within minutes walk of each other. Presumably 'second homes' and the allowance for same were designed to allow those MPs from far-flung constituencies to have somewhere to live whilst attending Parliament when it is sitting. What is believed to infuriate the people is the practice for some MPs to need what could be termed 'palatial' second homes - witness Maude moving into a flat with a gym and 24-hour concierge service. There is also an additional point that where an MP is personally wealthy, as is Maude and as was Laws, is it right - from a moral principle - that they should be able to claim? Difficult question to which the answer, I admit, is not easy. It is, however, worth remembering that politicians claim to enter the world of politics in order to do good for the country - in which case would not a person of principle do so at minimal cost to the taxpayer if it was within their means so to do?
Anyway, to the main point of this post and that of 'politicspeak' and how what is said does not apply 'across the board' but is 'selective' depending on the subject in question. Francis Maude has a 'commentary piece' in today's Daily Telegraph on the subject of transparency. Consider the following extracts: "Knowledge is power, said the politician and philosopher Francis Bacon. Today we live in the information age, and today information can be power too"and "This is a government that trusts people" and "we’ll be listening to what the public want and making sure they get the information they ask for wherever humanly possible". Knowledge and information is indeed power, which probably explains why the people are denied both by governments on the basis that governments do not want the people to know too much for fear that awkward questions may have to be answered. For a government that 'trusts people' and that promises to 'listen to what people want and making sure they get the information they ask for', one has to wonder why (a) the government will not give the people a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union and (b) why governments will not produce a cost/benefit analysis of said membership, instead of just repeating that those benefits are 'self-evident'.
On another aspect of 'politicspeak' one can take the quote about 'trusting people' and couple it with: "We want to harness the wisdom, the common sense and ingenuity of the British people." and " It’s about a shift of power from the state and a fundamental trust in the ability of people to work together to transform our society". Our 'LiberalConservative' government pontificate about 'localism' and devolving power to the people, yet are extremely selective in what power and the means by which that power is devolved and how it may be operated. If any government wished to 'harness the wisdom, common sense and ingenuity of the British people' and 'a fundamental trust in the ability of people to work together', then government would devolve all local matters in respect of health, law & order and education. Government would make it possible for local authorities to raise their own revenue by means of a local sales tax, or land value tax. Government would pass control of the 'purse strings' to local authorities, instead of retaining control centrally. Daniel Hannan has a post which shows the benefits of 'localism' here, one which makes interesting reading.
On a broader aspect, if government really did wish to harness the British people in an effort to improve our country and truly did trust in the ability of the people, then the principles of 'direct democracy' would be implemented immediately. It does politicians great harm, in the eyes of the electorate, when 'fine words' are used selectively to enhance one particular policy but then those same words are ignored on a policy matter that the politicians do not wish to consider.