The Real Expenses Scandal..

May 8, 2009

We’re all having a lot of fun with expenses, and rightly so. Our representatives are, almost without exception, larcenous scumbags who are quite content to milk their employers – the UK taxpayer – in order to service pathetically elevated lifestyles.

Paying your own brother over £6,500 for 26 months of “cleaning services” when said brother actually works as an executive at energy firm EDF? Claiming for Pampers? Paying to fix John Prescott’s toilet seat twice in one year?

All utterly scandalous and meriting a good political kicking no doubt, but hardly significant in the broader context of crass expenses laid upon us by New Labour.

Beyond the billions spent on fighting murderous and pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, beyond the Millenium Dome or the Olympics. Beyond even bailing out failing banks, socializing their losses while allowing the super-rich to hold onto their productive assets. Beyond even the billions of pounds that have been shovelled into consultancy and IT firms to butcher the NHS, or into the bottomless pit of “privatized” rail that only exists through plentiful public subsidy.

All of that eclipses the relative frivolity that is John Prescott’s shattered bog-seat.

But the biggest waste of money is New Labour’s energy and climate change strategy. Billions of pounds are set to be wasted on large-scale nuclear and coal-power “solutions” – even though they will lead to massive carbon emissions in the construction phase, and in coal’s case, until “carbon capture and storage” is installed – meaning possibly never.

Today’s scandal is the charge being levelled by environmental NGOs and business analysts against the government’s preferred fate for the Severn Estuary. Although well down its list of priorities, New Labour’s favorite scheme is a massive “tidal barrage” strung across the world’s second largest tidal estuary. But this would have massive implications for the estuary’s ecology, where tidal patterns have created massive mudflats, saltmarshes and wetlands.

But as engineering consultancy Atkins reports, “the government shortlist may also have “significantly underestimated” the energy that could be generated from other more ecologically sensitive schemes.”

The report found that in drawing up a shortlist of proposed projects in the Severn Estuary, the government massaged its figures and favored the barrage scheme unduly.

Yet there are many other energy futures available to the UK, including far less damaging ways of producing electricity from the Severn. One of the most promising, involving tidal lagoons situated offshore, didn’t even make the shortlist, indicating how skewed the process was.

What the government is doing, is preparing to spend billions on another mega-project,  part of a long line of failures which includes the Millenium Dome, the Olympics and the NHS IT system. They are excluding small-scale solutions, favoring those that guarantee huge contracts for engineering and energy firms.

Remember that £6,500 cleaner employed by Gordon Brown? It just so happens that EDF, where he really works, is a world leader in tidal power. Funny that.

So when you’re being enraged, or amused, at the corruption of our friends in Parliament, don’t forget the real expenses scandal. It’s much bigger than a pack of ill-gotten pampers or a seat buckling under Prezza’s bloated arse.

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