Public spending we could do without: the civil list

15 06 2009

Public spendingGeorge Osborne has responded to claims that the main parties are failing to own up to their public spending plans by admitting that , apart from abolishing ID cards, they do not actually have any specific plans yet. He admitted that up until now he has ‘tip-toed’ around the issue. In the face of sustained media criticism, including from this blog although one is fain to deny any credit of course, Osborne has now admitted that something will have to be done, he just does not know what yet.

It is likely that the whole process from now will be like this, weak and faint-hearted, reflecting the political weakness of the main parties. Rather than giving a lead , politicians will shilly shally and end up responding to whoever shouts the loudest.  It would be better at this stage to conduct a rational public debate about the state and which parts of it we need to keep.

Let’s start by abolishing subsidies to the royal family

In that spirit I am inviting contributions about which parts of the public sector we could do without. I am not interested really in ‘efficiencies’ or ‘productivity’ as these are almost always euphemisms for sacking people, usually ‘middle management’. Besides applying usual standards of productivity to welfare for example is often a nonsense.

Instead I would like to know which big chunks of the state and the accompanying funding we should get rid of. To get the process started I suggest we abolish the civil list and other subsidies to the royal family. While this figure is in the millions rather than the billions it is a bizarre leftover from the past and should be abolished. Readers may infer an anti-monarchy current here and they would be right. The continuance of the monarchy in the UK is one of the hangovers from the past we could do without.

We should have a presidency instead. At least then if we ended up with a buffoon like Berlusconi it would be because we elected him. Under the UK system we could end up with the unelected buffoon Prince Charles as head of state instead.

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