A mendacious man with much
to be mendacious about

A by-blow of MPs having both their mortgages and their food bills paid for by the Taxpayer – in the case of John Prescott having the nightly technicolour yawn subsidised as well – is that they perforce become immune from the reality of the remorseless rise in food prices and interest rates that afflict not just the poor but most hard-working people in the UK.

Perhaps this is why it has taken Labour backbenchers so long to cotton on to the damage being done to their prospects by McStalin’s cack-handed abolition of the 10% Tax Rate. I daresay most of them go nowhere near a supermarket from one year to the next and have thus spent the past year in blissful ignorance of the huge rises in food prices that began in earnest, by my reckoning, about this time last year.

The details are variously reported today in The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. Predictably the likes of the Guardian and the Independent have scarcely mentioned the problem – after all, shopping in Hampstead delis hardly equips you to understand the problems of working and middle-class families struggling to make ends meet. The details are alarming, to say the least and a harbinger of harder times to come.

The other great motor of inflation, fuel price rises, also pass the MP by. After all much of his or her travel about the place is paid for by the Taxpayer and one wonders how often the average backbencher gets to take the family motor down to the local BP or Shell garage for a fill up. The rest of us, meanwhile, are having to fork out 60% and more for fuel than we were when McStalin was announcing his last budget.

The other cushion against reality is the use by Labour of the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) as its preferred measure of inflation. No wonder they prefer it since it routinely fails to reflect the real life experience of millions of voters who have seen the price of essential foodstuffs and fuel for heating and getting to work and their mortgages repayments rise and rise and rise. The Panglossian CPI instead tells them that all is for the best in this best of all possible Socialist worlds such that they tend to believe implicitly in its truth. Thus it comes as a shock to them when, as has just happened, they find themselves forced to go and present themselves on constituents’ doorsteps to solicit votes for their local election candidates.

Just recently, one suspects, campaigning for the upcoming local elections, they have had just such a nasty shock in the light of those price rises and of the carefully self-inflicted wound of the abolition of the 10% tax rate, announced in the 2007 budget by McStalin in his last effort at wrecking the country. Hence they have come flooding back to Westminster. But in 2007 they cheered McStalin to the echo when he spun the reduction of the ‘basic’ rate of income tax from 22% to 20%: his careful and quite deliberate concealment of the concurrent abolition of the 10% tax rate pulled the wool over the eyes of the Ovine & Bovine, thus prompting the Labour Party to take aim and shoot itself carefully in the foot.

Even then McStalin was trying to spin it that very few people would be affected by the abolition of this lower rate. Now it is acknowledged by the Treasury that 5.3 million people will thus be rendered worse off.

At a time when food, fuel, council tax and mortgage repayments have all shot up, this month’s increase in tax for those 5.3 million people has come as an enormous blow. After all losing £300 when you are on £15,000 a year is disastrous. Not so, of course, if you are an MP on £60,000 per year plus walloping great handouts for food (£400 per month as regular as clockwork for Prize Barfer Prescott), mortgage payments and travel expenses). No wonder that visit to the doorsteps of their constituents has been a chastening and uncomfortable experience.

It is worth bearing in mind what that figure of 5.3 million might mean to Labour. Spread over 646 constituencies, it represents some 8200 people per constituency, enough, if they all voted Conservative or Lib ‘Dem’, to wipe the Labour party from the face of the earth. No wonder they are messing their pants just now. It may even be worse than that because, one suspects, the 5.3 million come disproportionately from Labour seats. Even if only half of them desert Labour it could prove to be something of a wipeout.

313 Labour MPs nominated him to
be their Leader. Now 312 of them
are contemplating their
own rank stupidity.

What is so astonishing is how it has taken the Ovine & Bovine a year and more to realise what Brown has done to them and their natural supporters. Once upon a time Labour Backbenchers would, within a couple of days of a budget, have had all the minutiae of how it was going to affect the downtrodden lumpen proletariat. Now it has taken a humiliating dressing-down on the doorstep of those same supporters (with whom they have little contact these days) to galvanise them into action.

Congratulations, then, to Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, for having the courage of his convictions and for tackling McStalin with his campaign to make him think again. He was, of course, famously appointed by Blair to ‘think the unthinkable’ about welfare and benefits but when he did so was equally famously shoved aside, with much suspicion at Brown’s role in the shoving, Brown fearing that he might lose control of the levers of power over Labour’s clients if Field had had his way.

Now Field, who has bided his time in honour of the maxim that revenge is a dish best eaten cold, has laid hands on McStalin’s nether parts and has given them a very painful sharp squeeze.

What goes around, they say, comes around.

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