Belfast Telegraph

Cash handouts are fine, but only if you are rich ...

By Robert McNeill

Tory Exchequer Secretary David Gauke has emptied a sack of squabbling cats among the pigeons with his claim that cash-in-hand payments to the lower classes are "morally wrong".

I think I'm correct in saying that you and I had never heard of Mr Gauke before his ill-advised venture into the real world. Certainly, his stock picture doesn't do him any favours.

He looks such a quintessentially arrogant Tory that only a man of iron discipline could resist vomiting over his head.

However, his vainglorious attempt to bridge the two currently existing worlds - the unreal one, with all the million-pound bonuses for failure, and grim reality, with wages of six quid an hour or £70 a week on the dole - was always doomed.

Mr Gauke raised the example of plumbers in particular, but cleaners and gardeners have also been brought into the picture. Plumbers I can understand, as the evidence suggests these chaps are rather wealthy these days. And when I say "evidence" I mean urban myth.

But make no mythtake, the world of money is utterly mad from top to bottom. The same people claiming the "indispensable" rich must be ludicrously compensated otherwise they'll flee the country - good - will also go hatstand about minor scams involving a fiver here and there.

The Gauke himself stands accused of bewildering hypocrisy, after he claimed £10,248.32 in "mortgage payments" on his second home.

These payments turned out to be stamp duty, solicitors' fees, land registry and property searches. Stuff that you and I mysteriously manage to pay for ourselves.

Still, at least he didn't claim the 10 grand in actual notes, a small mercy as he might have billed us for the humungous briefcase necessary to carry such loot.

I've tried drawing attention before to this massive mental block our society has between gargantuan sums for the criminal-commercial classes and the teeny amounts paid or given to those at the bottom. The inequality is so staggering that our brains can't take it in. And so the suited crooks get away with it. We're too sedated by screens to protest.

Possibly, some of us are complicit in the mega-scam. And when I say "us" I mean you. And when I say "you", I mean in particular if you are a shareholder.

Behold the shareholder: the backbone of western society.

They masquerade as decent, cardigan-wearing, respectable bourgeois types and write carping letters to the Mail about strikers and welfare scroungers. And all the time they sit back waiting to earn money for nothing.

Shareholders lie at the heart of all that is financially corrupt in western society. They're guilty of the biblical sin of usury and, lo, should be cast forth from the temple or semi-detached villa.

Everywhere you look in this financial crisis, the dead hand of the shareholder is evident: widespread redundancies and everyone doing three people's jobs so that these idle charlatans can make a decent profit.

I heard someone defend the bizarre difference between what farmers get paid for milk and what the supermarkets charge for it, on the basis shareholders' expectations demanded that level of profit.

Well, damn them. We're all paying through the nose for their free money. They're the scroungers we should be chasing down, not window cleaners getting a tenner in hand for doing some actual work.


From Belfast Telegraph