The Sketch: Pollytics: Real life as you always dreamed it

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The Independent Online

The divide between the Polly Toynbee school of governors and the one advocated by my lot (by which I don't mean the Conservative Party) is wide. Her manifesto is based on the idea of an active state reliably able to do good things: let's call it Pollytics. The minority to which I belong inclines to believe that even a benevolently active state will most often do more harm. We call this politics.

The evidence against Pollytics comes daily, and yesterday was no exception with the statement on the multi-billion pound disaster called the Child Support Agency. That was set up to reduce child poverty but the benign power of state systematically increased it. Not only that, its successor organisation is going to have draconian powers.

John Hutton told us that fathers defaulting on payments may have curfews imposed, their passports withheld and their estates confiscated when they die.

This is where Pollytics ends up "making things better'', laying own the infrastructure of a vastly more powerful and intrusive state. It happens quite rationally - the public purse has to be protected. The more they spend, the more they must inspect and the more remedial action they have to take.

And look at the leverage they are getting as a result. "This issue of public health is one on which the future of the NHS depends,'' the Prime Minster said to Kali Mountford, who had goaded him with humanitarian activism about obesity (the pot calls the kettle fat, but we've no time for that).

Pollytics created a National Health Service and politics will create punishments for fatsos (it's on the way, believe me). Pollytics changed laws to help women in loveless marriages, and politics created an illiterate drug-crazed under-class. Pollytics created a national insurance fund for dignity in old age; politics spent it on road building. Pollytics inspired an active state, and politics created an empire of inspectors, assessors, regulators, quangocrats and a whole new breed of accountant to explain why nothing's working.

Yes, you should have heard Tony Blair explaining why the MoD didn't mislead the House on allowances for soldiers. The Accumulated Turbulence Allowance in conjunction with the Amalgamated Separation Offer that 60 per cent receive on the New Operational Taxation Rate meant Des Browne was telling the truth! If you'd been Pollytickled you'd even believe it.

P.S: What can be said about the PM any more? Who was that 90-year-old sometime sex symbol wheeled out for a lifetime award hanging from her drip? "We wanted to remember her as she was!'' the critics cried quite angrily.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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