Monday, 29 November 2010

It is not what is said, but rather what is not said

On 22nd November George Osborne, in the House of Commons, during his statement on financial assistance to Ireland and in which he mentioned the €60 billion European financial stabilisation mechanism and the €440 billion European financial stability facility, stated:
"To be fair to my predecessor, he kept us out of that fund, but he did agree to the UK's involvement in the European mechanism two days before we took office. I made it clear at the time that I did not believe he should make that commitment."
Whilst Osborne may have made clear to Darling that a commitment to participation in the European financial stability facility should not be made, what Osborne did not make clear in the House of Commons was that he accepted that Darling had no choice but to make the commitment due to his being in a minority position at the finance ministers' talks in Brussels.

It could be argued that Osborne is guilty of misleading the House of Commons by not making that admission in his statement as he gave the impression that had he been Chancellor he would have refused to commit the UK to participation. Not only is it misleading the House of Commons but it is also misleading the people of this country, as knowing his remarks would be reported in the media, it was not the entire truth. Encapsulated within that lack of truth is the fact that Osborne failed to inform the people of this country that, as a result of Darling's decision - in which he, Osborne, was complicit - it also meant that the UK had ceded control of its ability to manage its own finances.

Remaining on this topic of misleading both the House of Commons and the people of the United Kingdom, let us look at the question of Cameron's "Big Society" idea. Not only is this idea of not measuring a country's well-being, but to incorporate data on how happy people feel, a 'new' policy. Cameron would appear to be guilty of pre-empting an embryo policy of the European Union, one decided in 2009.

As Bill Cash reported in September last year:
"On 8 September, the European Commission explained its plans in a Communication entitled GDP and beyond, Measuring progress in a changing world.........The European Commission intends to change how economic success is measured and to complement GDP with environmental and social indicators."
On 22nd November this year - and not, to my knowledge reported in the press - a conference took place at the Albert Borschette Centre, 36, Rue Froissart, 1040 Brussels, entitled "Behavioural economics, so What: Should Policy-Makers care?" At this conference one of the seminars was presented by Dr. David Halpern, Deputy Director, Institute for Government; Head of the UK
Government's "behavioural insight team", the subject of which was "MINDSPACE, Influencing behaviour through public policy". Oh and hands up, who was aware that the government had a "behavioural insight team" and exactly what its remit was?

Much has been written about the loss of freedom suffered by the people, as a result of decisions taken by politicians. Whilst it is accepted that politicians can influence the behavioural patterns of people by legislation, should we not be told what they intend prior to the implementation of any such policy? Yet not only was this conference not reported in the press, neither was any mention made, by the Coalition, to the House of Commons.

The "Big Society" was presented as an idea for communities to come together in order to do good works. What was not emphasised by Cameron is that government will oversee these projects, nor was mention made that the underlying objective was to influence the behavioural patterns of people. If people wish to 'do good', then they should be free to so do of their own free will and not be subjected to 'coercion' or 'orders' from their government. Another freedom lost then - that of the choice of deciding how they should live their lives.

Two further examples, dear readers, where our politicians have practised their well-honed arts of lying and obfuscating on the people of this country. But, hey ho, why should we be overly worried when politicians hasten the cure to all our ills - a cure that involves hemp and lamposts?

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