Tag Archives: Autumn Statement

More lies from the Tory/LibDem coalition?

We are shortly to be treated to another fairy tale from the Chancellor. Alas the Autumn Statement is unlikely to presage any happy ending. Apart from the NHS, it seem that even further cuts are in store for the rest of public spending. All of this will be accompanied by the usual tale that “we” or more often “the country” cannot afford so much public spending.  This is a kind of ghost story designed solely to frighten the public. A very successful story, backed up by the Labour party and just about all of our media. Nevertheless it is all one big porky.

It’s really about taxation and not spending

The mantra that “the country” cannot afford to continue spending on whatever item is under threat is most obviously a lie in that virtually no-one who makes this claim actually wants the spending to stop. Which is rather strange, since this is what is usually meant when someone says he or she cannot afford something. I cannot afford to buy a Rolls Royce car, so I do not buy a Rolls Royce car. But when it comes to prescription charges for example, when Labour, the Tories and the LibDems all say “we” cannot afford this public expenditure, they are not advocating that people stop buying prescriptions. The money will still get spent.  But instead of coming out of general taxation, the same spending will come out of individual pockets. So it is pretty clear that “we” or whoever these people mean, can in fact afford this spending. The same applies to just about all public spending, such as tuition fees. The money will continue to be spent, so it is a bit of a lie to claim that “we” or “the country” cannot afford this spending.

What Labour and their cronies mean is that they want to reduce the level of taxes or to hold them at the current level. They advocate a switch from publicly funded spending to the same spending,  but by by individuals. Which is perfectly understandably from Tories and LibDems, as at bottom they both represent the well-off, the rich, the very rich and the obscenely rich. People who can afford to buy whatever they want and who would benefit most from reduced taxation. But it still feels a bit strange from Labour, which at least pretended to represent the poor and the less well-off. But then again just about everything from Labour is a bit strange these days.

The country can afford more and better public services

It is quite remarkable that we have reached this stage in our public debate where the starting point is can the country afford good public services. An incredible achievement for the Tories, ably abetted by their fellow travellers in Labour and the LibDems. It should not need emphasising, but the UK is a very, very rich state. One of the richest in the world. A state with a very large and growing number of millionaires and billionaires. Starting with a significant number of members of the cabinet. The cabinet as a whole is probably wealthy enough to pay off the national debt among themselves. Yet these people and the big companies, both British and multinational that dominate the UK economy seem to pay relatively little in taxes. Some in fact like to boast about how little they contribute to the welfare of their fellow citizens.

There should never have been a debate about the affordability of good quality public services. That this has become the dominant frame of reference is just another example of the monumental failure of the left in the UK. How this came about is not for this post, but it is worth noting that Labour may have once upon a time merited inclusion in the left, but that time has long since gone. Labour remains part of the problem and in no sense part of the solution. We just need to keep reminding people that Labour is part of the big lie.

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George Osborne confirms failure of UK

The latest Autumn Statement by George Osborne once again confirms the failure of Westminster governments. Despite the rosy gloss put on the figures by the Chancellor, the reality is really quite dreadful. Two figures in particular highlight just how disastrous the Tory/LibDem coalition has been for the UK. First the growth figures for the UK during Osborne’s stewardship. These show that GDP is up by just 2.6% over the life of the government. However during this same period the population of the UK went up by about 2.1%. So GDP per head is up by just 0.5% in 3 years. This is the wonderful record of our rather nasty coalition. Or in other words the government’s record of failure. Secondly when we look at the figures for the UK’s national debt, we find that this is still way, way higher than it was when Osborne took over the economy. Not surprising that this figure is not mentioned by the Chancellor. Yet another record of failure.

The Chancellor makes great play of the fact that the UK economy has at long last started to grow again, with forecasts for UK Growth for this year of 1.4%, next year of 2.4% and up to 2.7% in following years. However these forecasts, and they are still forecasts, are nothing to boast about. They simply reinforce the fact that the UK has been stagnating for the last three years. Once you touch bottom after a steep fall then you tend to rebound quite quickly. But, and this is the important point, you do not quickly recover all the losses of these downward falling years. The amount of lost output under the watch of our nasty coalition is quite staggering.

Just in case anyone might be thinking that this is all the fault of the current Toyr/LibDem alliance, then do not be fooled. It was the last Labour government that got us into this mess. Under the unwatchful eyes of Alistair Darling UK GDP fell by 7.2% in 2008-09. While this loss was primarily the result of incompetence and greed by our overpaid bankers, it was the Labour government which allowed them to get away with it. Poor or light touch regulation was the mantra from Labour in those years. Nothing to indicate that a future Labour government would be any different. At best just a little bit less harsh.

All this has come at a terrible cost. A cost which has been paid by all of us not on millionaire type incomes. This cost is twofold. The never ending austerity that George Osborne seems to glorify in has meant pretty savage losses for most people. The various cuts in wages and benefits is equivalent to a 6.4% drop in real wages, after allowing for inflation. This is a quite unprecedented drop. Which in turn has had some very drastic knock-on effects on the quality of life for millions of people. The steep rise in food banks all over the UK is likely to be directly related to this drop in real wages. I wonder what, if anything, the likes of Messrs Osborne, Cameron and Clegg have had to give up during the last three years?

The other cost of course is in the lost output that comes from all these years of recession and stagnation. Yet all of this was completely unnecessary. During a period of virtually zero interest rates the government could have borrowed money to invest in mending our creaking infrastructure. Whether this took the form of for example, modernising the transport network, replacing old schools, hospitals etc, the result would have been to get people back to work and paying taxes thus boosting the government’s revenues. At the same time we would get some much needed improvements to the fabric of the UK.

But public spending is regarded as bad by this coalition. So for narrow ideological reasons the rest of us have had to suffer. All so that the rich can get even richer. The other imperative for the Tory/LibDem coalition is to protect the City of London. All UK parties seem to be in thrall to this tiny part of the country. Just don’t expect Labour to do much about it if they ever get back into power. The only way to change any of this is to vote YES to independence for Scotland.

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