Does anyone have a clue?


Cartoon: Peter Brookes, The Times

Yes, this blog has gone staggeringly quiet over the last few weeks as I gained a life: I went home to the UK and mixed with some people who had no interest in or desire to know anything about polypropylene. Do you realise that there are some people out there who have never even heard of catalytic reformers? Amazing….

Anyway, before I return to my sad little petrochemicals bubble, here are some reflections on the political chaos gripping good old Blighty caused by MPs’ expenses.

The pleasure the Brits are deriving from their fuming indignation over some upper-class twit claiming the cost of cleaning out his moat, and other such extraordinary fiddles, almost makes up for the misery inflicted by collapsing house prices.

But as I kept saying over many a pint of wonderful British real ale during my leave: “Corruption? Call this corruption. If you want real, decent corrupt politicians then go to India or the Philippines, to name but two Asian countries affected by this problem.

“The good people there would be delighted if all that their political leaders did was claim the odd household plant or a bit or mortgage tax relief off the State.”

It’s good fun to have a go at politicians, though – God knows they all deserve it.

And there is never any excuse to fiddle your expenses and quite obviously, all the journalists enjoying the hunt have never, ever over claimed or falsely claimed for anything (you can be probably tell, except if you are American that is, that this is intended to be sarcastic).

I had a friend many years ago who worked on a national newspaper who received a major telling off for not claiming enough fraudulent lunches, dinners and gallons of alcohol, the reason being that if the accountants saw one person managing on less everyone else might have been forced to follow suit.

Most national newspaper journalists, certainly in the 1990s anyway and so this may have changed, could double their salaries by being on the fiddle.

But in the row over MPs’ expenses perhaps not enough focus is being placed on a much bigger issue. This is how Britain is going to repair its government finances without creating major inflation problems or interest-rate hikes that will limit inflation but nip the recovery in the bud. The same applies, of course, to the US.

I don’t pretend to understand Bond yields etc.

Perhaps nobody understands, nobody has control, nobody has a flipping clue and so in the absence of any clarity the only debate worth having is over why the former Home Secretary’s husband, working as a government-paid political assistant, claimed porn movies on his expenses (still my favourite of all the scandals).

Toodle pip. I promise you in my next post that I’ll write about polypropylene for all you fellow sad people out there.

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