Ed Lines

NOTHING works me up quite so much as the complicity of public employees in funding fraudulent enterprises, such as we had with the fake organisations based out of Savile Town a few years back.

Ever wonder what happened to the tens of thousands owed by former Labour councillors Abdul Patel and Ghulam Maniyar in back-rent for their private Muslim burial ground?

Me too. Kirklees Council refused our Freedom of Information request for details. Obviously elected members getting rich on ill-gotten public funds is of no public interest whatsoever.

But the shameful fact remains that the government employs hundreds, nay thousands of people dedicated to frittering away our hard-earned money, from the scandalous Department for International Development which has so much money to ‘invest’ it struggles to give it away, to the gold-diggers behind the HS2 rail project.

Thanks to the Sunday Times we now learn of millions earmarked for helping war veterans that has been pocketed by unscrupulous people and organisations.

A charity called Veterans Council, based in a backstreet Wigan community centre, landed £500,000, moved into a luxury suite of offices in a stately home and blew the lot within 18 months.

Its chairman Des White won’t say where the money went – but worse, no-one from the criminally culpable authority involved wants to know. They won’t even acknowledge the fraud, because then they’d have to do something about it.

That’s what happened with the Big Lottery Fund and Kirklees Council with all the scams running out of the Taleem Training Centre. It’s the three wise monkeys-style of accountability – hear no evil, see no evil, speak lots of cover-up gobbledegook.

Veterans First Point (V1P) got £2.5m to create a network of mental health centres “across Scotland”. It has one centre and won’t say where the cash has gone.

The irony here is that the cash came from something called the Libor Fund which George Osborne set up, with the noble aim of using fines imposed on corrupt bankers for good causes. Punish one set of villains, then enrich even more. Crazy.

Just like many of the cut-and-run groups and charities milking these gullible bureaucrats, the Libor Fund has itself bitten the dust. The people running its successor the Covenant Fund say “we have learned from previous schemes and made improvements.” Now where have we heard that before?

People should be in jail for it – from both sides.

I COULDN’T say how long the Great Wall of China took to build, or how much it cost – although I think it’s fair to say labour costs were cheaper back then. Not a hi-vis vest or safety helmet to be seen.

It’s a toss-up whether the HS2 high-speed rail project will be finished faster than the Great Wall – or indeed whether it will ever see the light of day. So far it’s little more than a bunch of maps and hot air – but it’s already run up a £2 billion bill.

Big numbers like that become meaningless … billions this, trillions that … but for context, it’s more than the M25 cost in its entirety.

Costs, already out of hand, mean that if a track ever gets laid it will cost nine times more per mile than France’s superfast TGV network – and they haven’t even bought a model Thomas the Tank Engine yet!

What the people tasked with working on HS2 have done however is buy up land on the proposed routes like wild west cattle barons.

True, that will be necessary – if HS2 goes ahead. But in Yorkshire? Where’s there’s no prospect of an extension (and only a dubious one at that) for at least 17 years?

Properties are being bought and boarded up when in a time of supposed austerity and housing shortages they could be rented out.

In addition the profligacy of HS2 staff throwing fortunes at farmers and landowers for land and wildlife surveys is beyond belief. It makes no sense – or at least it doesn’t unless you are riding the lavishly salaried HS2 gravy train. All aboard for free cash!

The clear message is that the more public money they can spend, the less likely the plug will be pulled. Mean-while it’s jobs for the boys and backhanders all round.

The EU is systematically corrupt, we know that. Here the racketeering is just a tad more polite and civilised.

I’VE got this great idea for a new television programme. I make a nifty full-English, but also have a couple of speciality breakfasts, from exotic omelettes to my secret recipe ‘Mexican barroom eggs’ (involves beef, spring onions and salsa).

Do you reckon the BBC would stump up a couple of mill for me and Doris from the Catgut Caff to oversee various Emmerdale and CBeebies non-entities trying to replicate greasy spoon classics?

I reckon I’d be a natural: “Sithee, good effort Christabelle, but your lard wasn’t quite hot enough before you dipped your fried bread in … see here on the x-rays where your boyfriend Shaynewayne appears to have a growth on his lower intestine? That’s congealed fat love, congealed fat. Not good.”

Hey, another idea – you know how the X Factor and Strictly have ‘extra’ programmes? We could double up with a reality TV hospital show. Have-a-go members of the public could try giving Shaynewayne a remedial colonoscopy!

Producer: “Deep breath Shayney, this might hurt sweetie…”

Shaney: “Aaaaargh!”

Producer: “For god’s sake someone hold him down – the camera up his jacksy is shaking like a shi … like a dog with diarrhoea. Okay, off you go Joe Public. Left a bit, right a bit, puuuuussh…”

Shaney: “Aaaaaargh!”

Come on folks, the possibilities are endless!

No? You don’t think it’s a goer? Surely it can’t be worse than year after year of watching punters baking a flaming cake – which has engrossed half the country and left the other half distraught about the show leaving the BBC for Channel 4.

I honestly haven’t seen a single episode of The Great British Bake-off. And frankly, I’d rather have a colonoscopy off Shaynewayne – without the local anaesthetic.

IT IS to be sincerely hoped that the USA and Russia never actually go to war with each other, because no-one would be safe.

Given their hi-tech marksmanship, Europe would get bombed and there are probably remote South Atlantic penguin sanctuaries that wouldn’t be safe – but Washington, New York, Moscow and St Petersburg? Not a scratch.

As Winston Churchill might have said about this week’s situation in Syria: “Never, in the history of human conflict, have so many been killed in a so-called ceasefire.”

I mean, really – if that’s a ceasefire, you wouldn’t want them getting seriously nasty about things, would you?

The Yanks (with our help) murdered 60-odd government troops sat having their dinner, so just to show what ‘bad-ass’ really looks like, the Russians bombed an aid convoy and killed 20-plus innocents.

Still, we ‘Allies’ can fairly occupy the moral high-ground. Why? Well, at least we admitted we’d bombed the wrong blokes.

A Russian lie-detector test would probably blow a fuse if someone told it the truth.

IT WILL almost certainly be confirmed tomorrow that Jeremy Corbyn is set to lead Labour (twinned with the Cuban Revolutionary Party and the North Korean Stasi) into the next election.

Laughs galore for the rest of us, but I understand there’s concern amongst Corbyn’s inner circle about how demonstrable his principles are.

As such, they’ve convinced him to give up his O2 mobile phone contract and switch to EE – so that it matches the grades in the two A levels he ‘passed’. If only that was a joke.

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