I was just catching the sunshine in College Square Gardens near the Houses of Parliament, lying on the grass looking at the clouds trying to see faces or animals, when I caught sight of an old acquaintance Johnny ‘M’ as we called him then, I shouted across the park, ” Johnny M!”,
It was one of those embarrassing moments when everyone turns to look at you and shake their heads is disbelief, how English I thought. Fortunately for me he turned around to acknowledge my shouts, I beckoned him over like a traffic cop, gesturing with my hands, he returned the smile and walked towards me.
“Hi John” I greeted him, we shook hands.
“Your looking good” I said, he smiled, “You must have caught the sun…” quite frankly he had looked quite grey on our previous meetings.
“Here John,” I patted the park bench seat, he sat down beside me, we exchanged pleasantries for a moment, indulging him in his love for cricket, especially Surrey County Cricket Club, dogs were his other passion, that is if you can call a lap dog a real dog, anyway, he loved his dog, Edwina, a strange name for a dog I always thought. I didn’t have all day to exchange pleasantries so I blurted.
“Know what John?” I interjected,
“Know what John?” he replied, we both smiled.
“Well John, when you introduced ‘Privatization and Financialization Incentives’ ‘PPI credit’ for short, didn’t you foresee that it would actually cost the tax payer more?”
“Well John, to be honest I didn’t foresee this, we all make mistakes, and it is Conservative policy to privatise ever thing, we don’t want the blame or responsibility for running the country. My first thoughts were that having private capital in the system would help out in the NHS and other Government aided projects, I definitely didn’t foresee The Banks taking massive profits and writing contracts like WONGA with massive interest rates, I just thought it would be a good boost to Government ‘coffers’ but unfortunately we have companies like Barclay’s Bank, “killing off” public services, by charging vast interest rates causing unsustainable debt, dodging tax and funnelling profits offshore, how could I have known that eh?”
“But John! Isn’t that what Conservative governments do? Privatise everything no matter what the cost to the British tax payer?”
“Well yes…Nothing much has changed from the 1800s, of course we like to encourage trade but I had no idea that, PFI deals would become what you refer to as ‘toxic deals’ for Britain’s public purse.” I said, “don’t you think the private sector are having a laugh, all be it, at our expense?” He interrupted, “Well John, as it has turned out, basically Private Finance Incentives, are operated by the private sector for the private sector overpriced systems have burdened British tax payers with debts of up to £222 billion, but what can I do?” He sighed, looking into the blue wispy clouds, as I had done earlier, he looked as if he had seen a vision, then he said, “Well big business is getting away with murder and in retrospect I wish I had never introduced such a system as it’s become ‘institutionalized theft’ mmmm”
With that he bid me goodbye, he looked like a man defeated, the colour drained from him, as if the whole PPI thing had backfired on the British Public.