DON’T get me wrong, I admire David Cameron’s generosity – even if it is with our money. The only trouble is that he has a nasty habit of picking the wrong targets for his largesse.
Some might say, for instance, that Dave’s decision to ring-fence foreign aid amid the flurry of cuts to key services proves that the Tories do have a soft and cuddly side after all.
Personally I’m struggling to square that with their moves to keep slashing council budgets and the dire knock-on effect for everything from elderly care to child protection.
I know, I know. We should count ourselves lucky that we live in Britain and recognise that compared to much of the world we live like kings.
But hold on a minute. How come we’re giving a quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money to India?
Yes, many in that country suffer from extreme poverty. But why is it then that the Indian government can afford to launch its own space programme?
If they’re happy to spend £600m on such fripperies rather than use that cash to help those in dire need then I don’t see why we should step in and fill the breach.
Sorry if that sounds heartless. If we were rolling in money I wouldn’t care.
But in case the Government hadn’t noticed, many in Britain are still on their uppers.
People are queueing up outside foodbanks and in some corners of this country life expectancies are lower than parts of Africa.
And actually, the Government knows damn well what’s going on. It was telling, for example, that one of the pieces of bad news the Tories hoped to bury by slipping out just before Christmas was their own report on the effects of the Bedroom Tax.
Far from proving that Iain Duncan Smith is doing a first-rate job of weeding out the spongers and scroungers, it found that 78 per cent of those clobbered by the Bedroom Tax are left penniless by the end of each month.
Then we have the flooding. Christmas trees across Yorkshire were floating through living rooms as storms Frank, Eva and Desmond did their worst – and all because the Government said it couldn’t afford defences.
Meanwhile, in the wealthy Serbian town of Lazarevac, flood defences paid for by British taxpayers kept the residents safe.
Bojan Stevic, the deputy mayor of Lazarevac, noted: “We’re grateful to Great Britain and to the British people. It does seem strange they spent so much money in our country on flood defences yet apparently were not investing enough in their own.”
Odd is one word for it, Bojan. Here’s two more you could try: Bloody unbelievable.
This year alone Cameron and Co will give away £12bn – enough to fix our police, health service, elderly care system and leave enough to make sure no one has to worry about their furniture floating away.
And what makes it even worse is that studies find no evidence that this generosity results in greater freedom in the countries we bail out. On the contrary, many believe that foreign aid sponsors corruption on a scale we can scarcely even imagine.
And yet this Government whacks an extra levy on a couple because disability means they can’t share a bedroom. You couldn’t make it up.
It’s ironic that the Conservatives got into power on the back of their charge that Labour frittered away our money and left Britain broke.
But they seem all too happy to let their own people suffer while handing over billions to those who, in many cases, don’t seem to be doing too badly at all. And if they are, maybe their governments should stop wasting money on space programmes and the like.
I’m not saying that we should cut off foreign aid completely. In some cases it can mean the difference between life and death.
But surely now is the time for David Cameron to realise that charity begins at home.
Floody hell, Labour are sinking under Corbyn
FOR all his awkward bacon sandwich eating and falling off the Question Time stage at Leeds Town Hall antics, you can’t help but think even Ed Miliband would have had a field day with the floods.
But Comrade Corbyn’s Labour are too busy drowning in deep water of their own making.
This was an open goal, but instead the party is in disarray after a revenge reshuffle which proves fears Corbyn’s leadership would cause deep divisions were fully justified.
Barnsley MP Michael Dugher – just the sort of decent, plain-speaking politician Labour needs if it’s to win back northern voters – is out on his ear.
Presumably he was axed from the shadow cabinet because he doesn’t share the same vision of rabid North London socialism that Comrade Corbyn demands from his acolytes.
Now three more have resigned in protest and Hilary Benn is clinging on by his fingernails. Good man that he is, the Leeds Central MP is probably just trying to minimise the damage to a party that looks more like a student rabble by the day.
The problem is that any decent attacks – not least over the sneaky attempt to pass off long agreed flood defence funding for Leeds as new cash – are being blunted by the state of chaos within the Labour ranks.
You already get the feeling only a coup to unseat Corbyn will give Labour a prayer at the next election.
Turn on the titles for War and Peace
NEW Beeb drama War and Peace has got some rave reviews – probably because it saves people having to wade through the phone book sized novel.
But some viewers have complained that they can’t hear what the mumbling actors are saying.
Personally, I haven’t noticed – because I have the subtitles on all the time.
I’m not sure when this habit first kicked in, probably while watching one of those comedy series where everyone talks at 100mph, but I’m stuck with it.
And I find it makes TV viewing a far more pleasurable experience, because you’re not constantly asking “What did he say there?” and having to rewind every five minutes.
My wife jokes that it’s like watching telly in a retirement home – but I don’t notice her complaining too much.
Of course, my parents (who really are hard of hearing) refuse to have the subtitles on at their house.
But I think that’s because they can’t find the button to switch them on.