It never ceases to amaze me just how hypocritical our politicians can be. They have very short term memories and they block out anything from their past that might make them wince a little. It is always somebody else’s fault and there is never the slightest hint of humility.
David Cameron is reported to have reacted angrily to “EU boasting” about a new £280 million head office for the President of the EU and his support staff (the Europa building). It seems that it is this boasting that sits most awkwardly with our noble leader. He would (of course) have cancelled the contract for the building if it had been within his gift, despite the fact that it was commissioned against the very different economic backdrop of 2004. I doubt that last week was the first that the PM and his party knew of the building but to them that really doesn’t matter because Tony Blair was in charge at the time the building was approved.
I like to think that the project would not be agreed if put on the table today. The PM’s displeasure is there to reassure us that his is the party of reason and thrift (forever vigilant against unnecessary burdens on the poor British taxpayer) and that even in those heady days in 2004 he would have said “No”. But I’m not convinced that anything would have be
different: remember Portcullis House? Two offices were not enough for our MPs back in the 1990’s, three apiece seemed more appropriate and so Portcullis House was commissioned. This, very similar, massaging of political egos cost us £235 million (a cool £11 million more in today’s money than the Europa building) and was agreed by the Tory government in the same year (1992) that the UK was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, interest rates rose to 15% and billions of pounds were spent by the Tories trying to prop up our failing currency. Perhaps politicians in glass office blocks should show a little humility and spend less time stone-throwing.