Coalition can’t see the wood for the trees

When searching for miscreants the best advice, as every detective knows, is to “follow the money”.    Observers of the political scene should also take this advice to heart, even if the results are sometimes depressingly sordid.

In the case of the government’s misbegotten plan to privatise much of the Forestry Commission’s estate in England despite massive public opposition; the money aspect is most revealing.  David Malone sets out the background and links to the financial crisis here.

Now you might think that his argument is somewhat tendentious, but it certainly fits a pattern of privatisations which long since lost sight of their original advertised purpose – to promote better management and free firms from political meddling – and morphed into crony capitalism of the worst sort.

For the economics of the sell off make no sense whatsoever from the point of view of the public purse.  Private Eye reports just how adrift from reality the government’s case is.

[The Forestry Commission] already sells off land occasionally. When it recently flogged an area of woodland for £60,000, for example, the new landowner immediately applied for funds under the English Woodland Grant Scheme to grow and cut timber and was given assistance totalling £55,0oo.

Grants for replantings are to remain so the sell off only makes sense if the government’s motivation is not advantage to the public purse, but the private advantage of wealthy supporters.

Time was that Lib Dems would have fought this sort of thing tooth and nail, now holding the (Conservative) Party line takes precedence.

It’s nauseating.


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