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Purring along nicely

In America, some people are indignant that the Iraqi Parliament is taking an August holiday. I think their absence comes as a relief, especially to General Petraeus. First of all, the Iraqi MPs need a break – everyone does – and second of all, if news reports are anything to go by, they have been making the political situation worse.

In Britain many people feel they would like to hear less, much less, from their MPs. They want their MPs and government to stop spending their money on the EU. They would like government to keep out of their business. They would like to keep more of their pay, and have less of their pay hosed away in income taxes, council taxes, and VAT.

But increasingly the government seems to feel that all the money you earn belongs to it. In its greater wisdom it will dole out to you what it considers you should have from the income you have earned. After it has taken your money - the money you would have liked to spend on your children, say - it may return some of your pay as child benefit. But the money it returns will be quite small unless you have worked for the government and are retired, in which case you will receive a good pension. Having taken your money the government will be keen to spend it on such essential services as hiring inspectors to make sure that the upholstered chairs in your rented flat are fireproof. If you are a farmer, government inspectors will be forcing relentless inspections on you, and trying, such being the nature of inspectors, to find something wrong. If you are a fisherman, the government that should have protected your fishing grounds has washed its hands of you.

MPs and ministers like to think they are indispensable. Many people do, but most of us are fairly reasonable. We may feel we make a difference to our family, our military unit, the classroom where we teach or the office where we work, but we don’t feel we are important to the whole country.

This thinking is part of the megalomania I promised to write about last week. As you saw, I avoided it, and wrote about the Knight, and you may be wishing I had not taken up this cudgel now.

But many people find government’s constant agitation to do something very irritating. They are also deeply concerned that the responsibilities which government promised to handle – educating children, guaranteeing pensions, providing health care – are being performed so ineptly.

Meanwhile, EU bureaucrats and members of Parliament are constantly stirring up trouble with unnecessary new laws and regulations because they have the megalomanical notion that the government has to run everything and that Britain is only running because they are at work. If they were to stop, if Gordon Brown were to take a vacation, say for six months, they think that Britain would collapse.

In fact it would purr along nicely.

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