The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cuddly Cuts

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has announced that he will cut ministers' pay by five per cent and end subsidies on food and drink for Members of Parliament. Since the population of the United Kingdom will probably have increased by the time his administration gets its chance to serve, Daveybloke also plans to make Parliament more representative by reducing the number of seats in the Commons. It is not clear whether ministers will earn the remaining 95% of their salaries by economising on such Tory-toys as the database state, the Private Finance Initiative or Britain's superahmadinejadian nuclear policy; the idea seems to be that this kind of leadership for the age of austerity will help a few more of the little people resign themselves to losing their livelihoods and look forward with a more positive attitude to whatever company directorships little people generally line up for their retirement.

Meanwhile, Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister for Incarceration and Deportation has made the party's image even more cuddly by announcing a policy of Real Wages for Real Work among the Conservatives' core vote in the realm of Archer, Aitken and Saunders. Inmates in British jails are being exploited as cheap labour by commercial companies, and Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister for Incarceration and Deportation wishes to improve things by "encourag[ing] more private companies and charities to offer work and training in jails", thus enabling prisoners to earn wages "that will incentivise them into seeing a connection between effort and reward". This perspective will doubtless prove useful on the outside where, as everyone knows, effort and reward are almost always commensurate for the civilised and law-abiding. Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister proposes that "under the supervision of the prison governor", doubtless an employee of a private company and thus duly incentivised to see the connection between effort and reward, "some of the money would go to support their dependents on the outside" and thus provide an excuse for cutting their welfare benefits; "some would be paid into a victims' fund", payouts to be strictly dependent on the merits of each case as reported in the Daily Mail; "and a small proportion would be kept by the governor to enable the prisoner to buy necessities in prison". This appears to translate into Standard English as permitting the governor to charge prisoners for food, clothing and hygiene, unless Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives believe that such things ought to be luxuries for criminals below a certain income bracket.

The new policy, or at least the cuddly rhetoric that passes for policy with Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, is in this case "the result of an unlikely partnership between the Conservatives and prison reformer Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform", whom Britain's leading liberal newspaper apparently did not find time to interview on the subject.


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