Government decision-making and finance, now it’s divorce

Thursday, 23rd March 2017

• I ALWAYS understood from my history lessons at school that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, since the Saxon period, in charge of a table covered in green felt divided by black lines on which he placed circular counters to demonstrate to profligate kings that they could not afford so many wars and had, instead, to build ships and that the monks were being greedy etc.

In other words this cloth was at the centre of government.

Now it seems this function is carried out in secret in number 11 Downing Street, while next door a collection of men and women are deciding the fate of the country with no reference at all to this green cloth and the disposition of its counters.

Like an obnoxious bully from the school playground, the chancellor goes to parliament with his red box which he only opens once inside parliament, to the astonishment of the prime minister and her team and all the others sitting on their benches. The noise of astonishment is so great that the Speaker has to call everyone to order.

Is this how to run a country? A total divorce from decision-making and finance. It’s no wonder this country is involved in endless costly wars, HS2, and Brexit, with schools, hospitals and soup kitchens, and social housing plunged into debt.

I always thought government and finance were inseparable, as it was in the Saxon and Tudor periods. Clearly I am wrong.

South Hill Park Gardens, NW3 

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