Anyone wondering when the usual politics, where one party blames the other for the country’s ills, would restart needed to look no further than this morning’s Andy Marr Show, which featured a jolly good interview with Young Dave, where he asserted that the work of the new and improved two-headed donkey was starting to unearth “crazy” spending in Labour’s last years.
But, as Mandy Rice-Davies would have reminded us, he would say that, wouldn’t he? And Cameron’s assertions fail to stand up to a little scrutiny. His main – or should I say only exhibit in support of his point - was Civil Service bonuses. Note that the b-word gets trotted out because, although the amounts are hardly likely to be more than a couple of percent of pay, “bonus” has recently come to signify something excessive and bad.
Moreover, what is really being discussed is performance related pay – in other words, giving Civil Servants some measure of incentive. This, one might think, is something the Tories would recognise as A Good Thing. And, before he decides to cut those bonuses – a two thirds reduction was mentioned – it is to be hoped that someone in Government checks to make sure that unilaterally changing thousands of pay deals is something that can actually be done.
And this cut is mere gesture politics: the saving is fifteen million, and the budget deficit is over a hundred billion. So is the assertion, in the same interview, that the highest paid Civil Servant should earn no more than 20 times the salary of the lowest. That’s just more crude demonising of public service: there will be no such lecture given to the inmates of the casino, trousering obscene amounts of money while devising ever more dubious ideas for screwing over the financial system.The usual excuses will be trotted out: we have to set an example, don’t you know? Whatever. The fat cats will laugh a little louder, take a little less notice, and carry on as before. More amateurish PR.