Monday, February 02, 2009

Henry Porter: Infused with premium-grade awesome.

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"Look coldly at my generation, the one that's has been claiming every sort of entitlement since the Who sang about it, and you realise that we have been criminally irresponsible. We are leaving the people born after 1985 not just with the bills for this economic mess, but we also expect them to pay for an increase in the cost of state pensions for us, a rise of benefits and soaring pensioner health costs, which has been clear in demographic studies for some time. How young people are going to get started in paying for our old age without jobs and with a credit crunch and a frozen property market is anyone's guess.

Consider the political classes of today, the people who clustered round Tony Blair - born a month after me in 1953 - and who have been in charge for more than a decade. What have they done to make politics and the business of Parliament responsive to the widely appreciated needs of this century?

Though there are many well-intentioned politicians, politics probably hasn't been held in such low esteem since the time of the London mob. It simply fails to deliver. Even in the good years, the government spent vast amounts on education and health, but failed to secure a proportionate rise in standards and productivity.

I won't try your patience with my generation's failure on rights and liberty, its casual erosion of the privileges that were passed to us by our parents, or its bewildering ignorance of history, but it is important to understand that at the heart of the deterioration is Parliament and in this sense politics, rather than society, is broken.

Last week, a friend said that what he found so frustrating in the scandal involving peers allegedly offering to influence laws for cash, as well as the apparent immunity of bankers, was the absence of justice. None of the 3,000 offences introduced by Labour apparently caters for lords and multi-millionaires. But this is minor compared with the crisis in the way laws - often designed to serve the political classes of my generation - are drafted and passed without proper scrutiny.

My generation wanted everything - good food, cheap travel, large disposable incomes, luxury and security - and we have had them all, but at a great cost. We knew about climate change a long time ago, yet our government all but ignored it until the Tories made the running. We knew that bankers had not discovered the secret of limitless wealth creation, but we failed to regulate. And now if my children's generation demonstrates, we will deploy a newly equipped and trained riot police to protect us. You see we have been expecting trouble."

Word.

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