Yesterday's budget promised a £200 council tax rebate to pensioners. A handy bribe, with an election coming up. As Labour's Blogging Bromwich East MP notes, "Gordon Brown just gave 12,980 pensioner households in my constituency an additional £200, it's these days that make me realise just how lucky I am".
Yep, being in government is certainly an easy way to speed through bribes and corruption. The current issue of Private Eye notes the ongoing drama over postal vote fraud in Birmingham, noting that in last year's local elections "in the ward of Bordesley Green, up to 3,000 people had their postal votes forged and stolen by Labour supporters. The party won the ward with a majority of 441." The judge investigating has apparently stated that "I might come to the conclusion that this was a Birmingham-wide Labour party activity." Shades of Florida 2000, eh?
And as Chicken Yoghurt notes, this £200 to pensioners is a one off payment, purely for this electoral year.
In Tom Watson's constituency alone, this bribe is going to cost £2,598,000. How is this loss of income going to be covered without other ratepayers picking up the slack? Council Tax rises all round, then...
So, if they think about it for a moment, constituents will quickly twig that taxes will go up after the election and they'll end up worse off.
The pensioners in question will also realise that the payment is a one-off and they'll get hit for full-whack Council Tax next year (doubtless including above inflation increases, as per usual, to cover their earlier vote-winning bribes) with no corresponding increase in their pensions.
Nice one... Perhaps the words of Harold Wilson in the October 1974 Labour Manifesto might bear repeating: "We do not believe in electoral bribes - these are an insult to the intelligence and realism of the public."
The current Labour government, insulting the intelligence and realism of the public? Surely not!
(And this coming from someone who quite likes Gordon Brown...)