Thursday, 26 November 2020

No change in the Tories' spots

 

That’s an advertisement on TV by an insurance company that promises “not to make a drama our of a crisis.”

With yesterday’s spending review, and the reporting of it by their supporting media, our government seem determined to do the opposite.  We are warned of “the biggest UK slump in 300 years” and there is much  talk of “hard decisions “ and “tough choices.”

Let’s be clear.

There is a public health crisis. It is very serious.  Over 50 000 people have died because of it.  We need to make every possible personal sacrifice (such as having a nuclear family Christmas, minimising social mixing and travel, isolating ourselves  if we have been in contact with someone with the virus, etc) to help contain it.

There is no economic crisis.

True, there has had to be, and will continue to be, extra public expenditure both to deal with the crisis (buying PPE, setting up a Test and Trace system, caring for those infected) and compensating those  whose normal economic activity has had to be suspended.  It is a shame that neither has been done very efficiently - indeed billions of pound have been wasted and  had the government  responsible been even marginally to the left there would have been uproar.

However, the rise in public debt to around 100% of national income (the debt to GDP ratio) is probably inevitable.

And such a level debt is perfectly manageable, as explained in an earlier post

It is not a crisis.

In 1945, at the end of the war, the government’s debt was not 100% of GDP but more like two and a half times GDP - around 250%.

It remained at above 100% until 1963.

In that period successive governments introduced free milk for all schoolchildren, universal secondary education with  new schools to facilitate it; provided free higher education along with maintenance grants; created the National Health Service (which included free dentistry );  took  key industries such as the railways, water, electricity, and gas into public ownership  and compensated the previous owners; increased the capacity of the building industry to build  300 000 houses per year, mostly for affordable rents; introduced family allowances; and still paid  off 60% of the debt. 

 

Even while the debt level was around 100% the 1960s were great fun, as already explained in that  earlier post.  It was the time of “swinging Britain,.” Even though Philip Larkin may have exaggerated its potency:

  Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

 - it was a good time to be alive

But not for the first time, the Conservative government now puts into practice the dictum attributed to Winston Churchill;  “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 

Back in 2008/9, when we had a world financial crisis, as soon as the Tories got hold of the government in 2010 they put the brakes on the Brown/Darling creative response which had started a recovery and introduced “austerity” in order to implement their dogma of a smaller, less caring , state. 

They managed to convince the public that his was necessary, so that, while those  who  caused of the financial crisis got off scot free the poorest in our society paid the price.

Now that we have a genuine, and expensive, public health crisis, the talk of “difficult  decisions” and “hard economic choices” is being bandied around to soften us up for the next stage of the process.

Once again it is the poorest who will be expected to pay the price.  The public service pay freeze will affect some of the lowest paid workers who have actually most exposed to the dangers of the virus and kept the health and hygiene service going.  The £20 extra for Universal credit is to be discontinued.  Both of these, and other cuts , will take demand out of the economy just a the time when it is most needed to generate a revival. The decision to cut our Oversees Aid Budget by over £4bn at the very time when the poorest in the world need help most is a source of both self harm and national shame.

 It is not a mater of that, like the Bourbons, the Tories have learned nothing from their past experiences.  They know exactly what they are doing: using the public expenditure necessary to deal with a genuine health crisis to further their aim of an even more minimalist state, isolated from the EU, in which the haves flourish and the weakest go to the wall. 

 

 

 


7 comments:

  1. You are perfectly correct.A country and its people manipulated,brainwashed

    ReplyDelete
  2. They do not need to learn anything new They have it fine tuned. Austerity till the year before/of an election then release the purse strings to achieve just enough votes to obtain the majority.Due to the media the public always fall for it.The billionaires and other Tory backers are the ones to be nullified.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed. I wonder when or how the electorate will learn? Sadly the "progressive forces" are outgunned by finance and therefore the media every time.

      Delete
  3. If you can find me anyone, anywhere, who has responded to the current kerfuffle by saying that they have changed their mind, rather than by explaining how this in fact means that we should have been doing more of the stuff that they have been saying all along, then you can have a prize.

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