Hypocrisy is New Labour’s prime characteristic, and Gordon “Heathcliff” Brown’s injunction to us all not to waste anything is a fine example of Labour – and specifically Brownite – hypocrisy
We are, apparently, throwing away £1bn of food each year. That is indeed something to be corrected, with implications well beyond the £420 per family which a Whitehall study has alleged. It deprives others, it generates waste and it inflates the profits of the supermarkets. It is nothing, however, to what Gordon Brown has wasted.
There is government money of course – expensive consultants, failed IT projects, aborted education schemes, Olympic over-runs, overlapping and contradictory changes in the NHS, almost anything planned by Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper, ID cards – a long list of things which were either unnecessary or cocked up or both. Then there are (or, rather, were) the gold reserves given away at knock-down prices to pay for the other waste.
There is the waste of opportunity – a generation’s secondary education sacrificed, a rail system which could by now be beginning to show the benefit of a decade’s investment, a housing crisis which needs to be resolved, unplanned, in a hurry when it could have been met as it developed, a thousand useful things which could have been done with the money and clout of a government with a large majority in a time of plenty.
Lives have been wasted – not just the obvious ones, the lives of soldiers who (whatever one’s view of the rightness of the wars they are fighting) have died for want of the right equipment, but those who have died because hospitals are unclean and essential drugs are rationed, or because their neighbourhood has descended, unpoliced, into violence and the anarchy of gangs and knives.
Political capital has been wasted, not least through Brown’s unremitting war of attrition against his predecessor, his undermining of Blair’s every attempt to achieve reform – I had little time for Blair, but one wonders what he could have achieved had Brown not been blocking his every move.
All this and so much more has been wasted, and now Gordon Brown tells us off for wasting food. He is quite right, but it sticks in the throat to be lectured on waste by a man who has wasted so much.