Monday, March 03, 2008

Make Do And Mend

You're much too young to remember Make Do And Mend. It was a wartime government propaganda campaign to persuade people to think of their threadbare old clothes and other clapped out possessions as a commendable and visible sign of patriotism. Fair enough, there was a war on, and Britain was under U-Boat blockade.

But there's no war on now -well, no Big War anyway - and I don't think there are any U Boats. What's more, we've just enjoyed the longest period of sustained economic growth since the Romans built all those garrison towns. So why have we gone back to Make Do And Mend?

Take this morning's news that the government is to allow the use of motorway hard shoulders to relieve traffic congestion. Transport Secretary Msgr Kelly says:

“If we do nothing, we will be managing road space in the worst way possible - by gridlock. That’s traffic management done in the most blinkered, inefficient way, a way that guarantees the worst outcomes for motorists, for air quality and for our economy.”

Good God! What a blinding insight! How come nobody ever noticed those wasted hard shoulders before? We could have solved the congestion problem years ago.

The real reason for this new Dunkirk spirit policy of course is that Labour has failed catastrophically in its duty to invest in our roads infrastructure. We've blogged this before, pointing out they did virtually no road building in their first term, and quoting what Labour's first transport supremo said back in 1997:

"I will have failed in this if in five years’ time there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car."

Here's what actually happened:

That particular two-jag secretary-screwing excrescence of blubber is no longer at the controls, of course, but his fantasy world was official Labour policy. Until their late partial U-turn, that is.

The ever excellent David Smith wrote about our roads yesterday, pointing out that "road users pay £32 billion a year in tax but only £8 billion of that is spent on improving and maintaining the system."

So despite the fact that road congestion now costs us an estimated £20bn pa plus, the commissars have simply used road taxes as a convenient cash cow. We have been starved of roads investment and we will have to make do and mend on the hard shoulder- just hope you're not involved in the all-too predictable tragedy.

Any more make do and mend?

How about prisons? As we've blogged ad nauseam, the reason we have to make do with dangerous criminals roaming our streets is because we don't have enough prison places (we reckon we need double the current 80,000). And the reason we don't have enough places is because Labour Home Secretaries sytematically ignored their own forecasts, and failed to build them.

Here's that killer chart again, showing successive Home Office forecasts of prison population plotted against actual prison places available (ie in use):

Once again, gross underinvestment means we have to make do and mend, with early release now the norm, and courts under sustained pressure not to bang up thugs (see this blog for details on how useless community sentences are).


How about our troops having to make do and mend without enough helicopters or even proper body armour? Although at least they can sometimes scrounge stuff from the yanks. Or the Afghans. Or any other third world army in the general vicinity.

Labour's arrogant clowns have already increased public expenditure by £264bn pa. That's a real increase of 43% since 1997-98. Or an extraordinary £7,000 pa per household (at constant 2007-08 prices).

WTF has it all gone?

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