Friday, September 08, 2006
I'm Backing Bliar
We of a certain age well remember I'm Backing Britain.
It was the Swingin' Sixties and we were buckling under the weight of a hopeless Labour government that had vastly inflated the size and cost of the state. Money had been poured into unreformed underperforming public services, taxes had racked up, and the government's promises to unleash the white heat of a technological revolution had turned out to be nothing more than the ususal wodge of half-baked socialist nonsense of new taxes, subsidies, and a whole new government department telling businesses they jolly well needed to pull their socks up.
In the end, all the government could come up with was the 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign, vainly encouraging people to buy malfunctioning Austin 1100s rather than rock-solid VW Beetles.
But in those days real people still did real things for reasons other than getting on telly, and a group of secretries from Surbiton decided to take action. To help out the poor bankrupt country, they proposed to their employer they should work half an hour a day for free. The employer snapped it up, the press got hold of it, and the movement spread like wildfire. Naturally, politicos jumped on the bandwagon, and pretty soon working the free hour became a patriotic duty.
Of course, it pretty soon fizzled out- despite the wholly admirable intentions of the volunteers, unscrupulous employers inevitably took advantage, and the unions made their payrolled Labour MPs oppose it. But you couldn't fault the public spirit of those typists.
Fast forward forty years. Britain is buckling under the weight of a hopeless Labour government that has vastly inflated the size and cost of the state. Money has been poured into unreformed underperforming public services, taxes have racked up, and the government's promises to unleash the etc etc etc
And guess what: I'm Backing Britain is back. Well, it's back with one small tweak- this time it's the employers proposing it to the workers.
Visiting rellies during our sojourn out West, Mrs T and I have discovered that at least one large NHS hospital here is proposing to tackle its massive deficit not only by closing wards and chucking out patients (one of them a Tyler), but also by asking staff to work an hour for nothing. That's apparently on top of an existing scheme to have them take a day's unpaid leave.
The simple folk down here are asking how on earth you can double NHS spending and end in the chaos of hospitals slashing services and not paying staff? We sophisticates from up the Smoke know the answer: 80% of the cash has gone in higher costs, including salaries. So maybe those hundreds of new NHS administrators figure there's some poetic justice in their plan.
All we can do is take a few moments just to give thanks that our wondrous distintegrating government isn't in charge of breweries.
Pic: the very excellent Sterling Times
Posted by Mike D at 9:50 am