Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bagehot in The Economist – Politicians in Britain Have the Same “Entitlement” Culture as U. S. Politicians

Conservative British Politicians Demand Entitlement to Public Jobs While at the Same Time Eliminating 500,000 of Them

One of the universal traits of politicians regardless of affiliation, country, philosophy or political party is that they are in the government because the people serve them.  The idea of elected officials serving the populace is foreign to most of them.  The Dismal Political Economist would like to claim that this is a trait only of Conservatives, but alas the idea that the people serve the politicians crosses ideological grounds and includes independents and progressives.

The columnist for The Economist who writes under the name of Bagehot documents this feature currently on display in Britain.

Britain is going to reduce the size of its Parliament (way too big) and in doing so draw up district boundaries in a process similar to that of the U. S. which does this every ten years.  Unlike the U. S. which in most states has politicians drawing boundaries to protect incumbents, Britain has non-partisan commission to the do the job. 

LISTEN to the opposition Labour Party, and a shake-up of Britain’s electoral map now under way—with 50 parliamentary seats for the chop, and hundreds facing redrawn borders—is an act of partisan “gerrymandering”. Believe some disgruntled MPs, and the review threatens the very fabric of democracy, creating new seats that will cross county lines and other time-hallowed boundaries. Oddly, given that the review is a Conservative initiative, some of the loudest complaints come from Tory MPs.

The big loser in all of this is expected to be the center-left Labour party, which could lose 20 seats.  The Conservatives could lose only 13 seats, but this apparently has still created an uproar.  Since the Conservatives are in power the holders of those seats expect to be taken care of at public expense.

many Tory MPs distrust their leadership. David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has vowed that boundary casualties will be looked after. But the mood is so toxic that some right-wingers want him to put his pledge in writing, or to ditch the review altogether. Some MPs want ambassadorial appointments to be opened to seat-less Tories. With others hoping to be sent to the House of Lords, there is pressure to ditch a coalition pledge to Lib Dems to create a mostly elected upper house.

The main reason for criticism here is that the Conservatives are the ones who talk loudest about personal responsibility, about how great the private sector is and how corrupt the public sector is.  And Yet here is another example of where Conservatives want the government to take care of them with government jobs.

Britain is going through an austerity process in which upwards of 500,000 public employees will be fired by the Conservative government.  Hopefully the 50 MP’s of all three parties who loses their jobs will join them.

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