02 August 2006

No respect for rules, or for the individual


Patience Wheatcroft, in yesterday's Telegraph, comments on the government's cavalier attitude to established rules and to truth-telling.

She comments that

The House of Commons Select Committee were probing the cavalier way in which the Government refused to consider her recommendation that it should compensate those who had suffered loss because of its failings.

These are people who paid into occupational pension schemes in the belief that their money would be safe but who now find that, because of the collapse of the companies involved, they are facing an impoverished retirement. They argue that their confidence in the schemes was influenced by Government literature extolling the virtues of occupational pensions, and the Ombudsman upheld that view.

But the implications of the Select Committee's findings go way beyond the 125,000 people affected and should unnerve us all. They point to an administration that will not accept that it can be in the wrong, that will flout normal constitutional rules, and that has no compunction about doing so in a manner that adds to the misery of those who are already suffering as a result of its actions.

If that sounds uncannily like a definition of a dictatorship, then it may be because this Government has increasingly seemed to believe that democratic procedures are a bit of a nuisance. Do not forget that anyone found displaying, let alone wearing, a T-shirt declaring "Bollocks to Blair" is liable to be arrested and fined.
As she says, this government has contempt for established rules. It believes it is always morally in the right, yet in fact takes no account of the misery it creates for individuals - the ‘good of society’ is all that matters.

If the same actions were being carried out by a government considered to be right wing, the intelligentsia would be up in arms. But because Labour is supposed to be aiming for ‘social justice’, its behaviour is tolerated.