Friday, 2 April 2010

Buying votes is easy when the bill isn't yours

"Professor Tim Briggs is one of London's top orthopaedic surgeons. So frustrated did he become with the Government's failure to provide the funds to rebuild the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north London, that he threatened to stand as an independent against the sitting MP in the Labour-held marginal of Harrow East, Tony McNulty. He almost certainly would have won.But lo, it has come to pass that with the general election just weeks away, Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, has miraculously found that he does have the necessary £81 million after all. ....So blatant was this little piece of pork-barrel politics that Mr Burnham didn't even bother to deny it when challenged in a TV interview.According to figures compiled by The Financial Times, ministers have made £7 billion of new spending pledges in the UK regions over the past two months, much of it on projects directly affecting Labour-held marginal seats, or areas bordering them.Local councils have been taken aback by the scale of the largesse – £580 million to revitalise Tyne and Wear's Metro light rail system, £81 million to extend a West Midlands tram line, £235 million for a trolleybus system in Leeds, the list goes on and on. These are all, no doubt, deserving projects, but it is money the Government hasn't got.

No comments: