"A Gravy Boat: it's like a gravy train but bigger and slower with lots more gravy."
– Sir Humphrey Appleby
You can have Mr Balloon for DINNER if you want!
It will cost you, though. Ten THOUSAND pounds for a CHEAP seat (or up to FIFTY THOUSAND for a good one – one near the door, probably!)
Still, it would be a great opportunity to hear the THOUGHT of the great man himself – he could tell you all about how he wants to CLEAN UP POLITICS while he is counting your stack of used fifties into a black attaché case.
Mr Balloon is JUMPING THE GUN on his Democracy Task force again, but at least it is good that he is having some IDEAS. Maybe eventually he will have GOOD ideas!
Today, he is saying that he does not think that Parliament should decide their own pay.
On the surface, this SOUNDS like a good idea; after all it will stop GREEDY MPs from giving themselves MASSIVE pay rises, won't it? Millionaire Mr Balloon can look VERY frugal then!
But think about it: if not Parliament, then who should decide this?
If Parliament controls its own spending then Parliament retains some INDEPENDENCE. If you hand that power over to somebody else, then you are putting Parliament under somebody else's CONTROL – Mr Balloon wants Parliament to be controlled by an UNELECTED committee of Civil Servants.
Certainly, at the moment Parliament COULD vote itself a whopping pay rise: but if it DID, then all of those MPs would have to EXPLAIN themselves to their voters. Parliament is ACCOUNTABLE.
But who are Mr Balloon's committee going to be accountable to? How will the public get rid of them if they think they are paying the MPs too much?
Or on the other fluffy foot, suppose the committee decides it is going to start CUTTING MPs' pay if they do not BEHAVE. Either that puts the MPs under the thumb of this unelected committee – or whichever occupant of a famous London residence controls the committee – or they will have to do like Three Jobs Bob Neill…
[Woolf: Neill before Sutekh!]
Him again! Eeek!
Er, quiver, MPs might do like Mr Bob and get some outside work in when they should be looking after their constituents.
Mr Balloon is QUITE RIGHT when he says that the Prime Minister should not be the person to investigate if his Cabinet chums have broken the Cabinet code.
The Cabinet Code should be like the Da Vinci Code and have a special order of ALBINO MONKS to track down ministers who break it and give them a good TALKING TO!
"When ministers don't behave properly, we should have an independent system of looking at that," said Mr Balloon.
He is RIGHT… up to a point. That independent scrutiny should, OF COURSE, come from the people's representatives in Parliament.
What we want is a MORE powerful Parliament, one that is able to hold ministers and even Prime Ministers to account for their actions, one that can subpoena witnesses and where misbehaviour is dealt with as seriously as contempt of court, which in fact is what it is, and false testimony is treated as seriously as perjury.
We also need to make Parliament more independent by REDUCING the Prime Minister's powers of PATRONAGE. The party whips are able to control their members in a way that makes it all ridiculous.
And of course we need a FAIR VOTING system, where Lord Blairimort does not get 100% of the power from 35% of the votes. Because of our First-Pass-the-Port voting system, Lord Blairimort has been given ENORMOUS majorities in the Commons on the support of MINORITIES of the people.
This means that he has been able to IGNORE Parliament because he has enough robots on his benches to vote down any opposition to his IMPERIAL plans.
Furthermore, he also gets to control all of the Parliamentary committees that are supposed to keep an eye on him and overturn any questioning of his behaviour, no matter how MAD he goes!
And Mr Balloon's solution is to take MORE power away from Parliament?
Until he goes and learns that REAL LIBERALISM is about CURTAILING arbitrary power, then I think we all know how HOLLOW his "I'm a Liberal Conservatory" claim really is. He just wants to continue the "New Tory Labour" tradition of more power to the centre and make the unaccountable behind the scenes manipulators stronger at the expense of anyone who voters might be able to talk to.
Mr Balloon has SLAGGED OFF Mr Frown and Lord Blairimort:
The "SOAP OPERA" of Labour's leadership has diverted attention from more important matters and is "not good for the country", said Mr Balloon to Xfm, the MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT radio channel.
"How much time do you think these people, in the last few weeks, have spent worrying about our troops in Afghanistan, or the NHS, or the schools we send our children to," he asked.
("Remember the Children, the poor little children," he forgot to add.)
This is really VERY, VERY NASTY politics.
If Mr Balloon had bothered to listen to either Mr Frown or Lord Blairimort's speeches this week, I think he would know that they have in fact been thinking about those things rather a lot.
I do not think that Lord Blairimort or Mr Frown's solutions of targets and diktats and centralisation are the RIGHT solutions, but that does not mean I do not recognise that they are trying to the RIGHT THING.
Mr Balloon should NOT go around saying that other people in public life are only interested in themselves.
Casting ASPERSIONS like that undermines EVERYONE who is in public service.
He wants to see some responsibility rather than "Gordon slagging off Tony and Tony slagging off Gordon".
Well if anyone is slagging anyone off it is clearly Mr Balloon. And if anyone is showing responsibility HE is certainly NOT!
PACHYDERM HYPOCRISY ALERT: hark at me slagging off him for slagging of them for slagging off each other!
If you want to show us some RESPONSIBILITY, Mr Balloon, then stop chatting about the Labour soap opera and GIVE US SOME POLICIES.
Or are you too busy having dinner with your ULTRA-RICH chums?
Pass the gravy boat, old bean.