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UK continues mass experiment in human despair

(4 Posts)
ttosca Thu 20-Mar-14 20:48:36

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has confirmed that the Tory-led government's policies to cut public spending are set to continue, but the food banks don't lie.

Prior to delivering his 2014 budget to the country via the chancellor’s annual budget speech to parliament earlier this week, Osborne waited patiently while the prime minister and the leader of the opposition entered into the ritual pre-budget speech exchange.

Tributes were paid by both men to former Labour MP and government minister, Tony Benn. Benn, it should be noted, was the most hated man in Britain at one time, reviled by the Tories, the British establishment, and the leadership of his own party. The tributes that have been paid to him in response to his recent death would suggest that the political class in Britain is either suffering collective memory loss or is riddled with rank hypocrisy.

This pre-budget speech exchange then moved onto recent events in Crimea. Ed Miliband assured the prime minister that he will have Labour’s support for the toughest possible action against Russia over the decision by the Crimean people to secede from Ukraine and apply to join the Russian Federation, asking Cameron if he favors suspending Russia from the G8. The prime minister assured the Labour leader and the House that he will discuss it with Britain’s allies, but that they should consider banning Russia from the G8 permanently as punishment for its role in the Crimean events.

The House cheered its approval and you knew by now that you were bearing witness to a political class in Britain that exists in a parallel universe.

Next up was Chancellor George Osborne to outline the government’s budget for 2014-15. It only took him a couple of minutes to confirm that the mass experiment in human despair which the Tory-led coalition government describes as an economic policy is set to continue.

Osborne began his speech with the boast that “If you are a maker, a doer or a saver, this is a budget for you.” He then went on to regale the House with various statistics to support the government’s assertion that Britain’s economic recovery is headed in the right direction as a result of the austerity measures they have implemented since coming to office in 2010. The chancellor then confirmed that cuts to public spending will continue.

Food banks don’t lie. Their proliferation over the term of the current government confirmation that Britain in 2014 is a nation in which poverty, destitution, and the inevitable despair which follows on from those maladies is worse than at any time since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the social spectrum, recent figures released by the charity Oxfam reveal that the five richest families in Britain share more wealth between them than the poorest 20 percent of the population – around 12.6 million people.

Never mind taking a penny off a pint of beer, as the chancellor announced in his budget speech, the sheer extent of inequality in Britain in the 21st century is a travesty, the fruits of three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy that shows no sign of abating even in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

The response of the government – whose front bench consists predominately of millionaires educated at Eton and other elite schools in England – to the recession has been to wage an all-out assault against the poor, especially the unemployed, who have seen savage cuts to their benefits in addition to a tightening of the conditions attached to their provision.

In a classic example of divide et impera – divide and rule – the government has succeeded in turning the low waged against the unwaged, the able bodied against the disabled, and everybody against immigrants. Meanwhile, the City of London has felt no pain and continues to reward itself with outlandish bonuses, despite its responsibility for the financial crash which caused the economic crisis, a consequence of the greed and recklessness that has and continues to underpin its drive for short term profit at the expense of long term stability and sustainability.

The chancellor’s announcement that growth is expected to outperform previous expectations – moving from 2.4 percent to 2.7 percent - tells us little apart from the fact that international demand for high-end London properties remains buoyant and that the City of London remains one of the world’s premier financial hubs, attractive to investors seeking a regulation and tax-friendly environment in which to do business.

The housing crisis that has bedeviled the country for decades, and which successive governments have failed to tackle, has led to an ever-burgeoning housing benefit bill as private landlords have cashed in at taxpayers’ expense. Placing a cap on housing benefit rather than on the amount of rent landlords can charge tells us whose side the present government is on.

One of the main planks of this government’s economic strategy has been to keep interest rates down, benefitting borrowers, especially homeowners with mortgage repayments constituting the bulk of their monthly outgoings. Suffering in the process has been the nation’s savers and those dependent on the value of investments, such as pensioners. Both the aforementioned demographics are more likely to be Tory voters, which is why they have been rewarded by Osborne with measures designed to increase the threshold at which pensions contributions are taxed and make it easier for savers to move money around without being penalized.

Lost in this direction of travel in favor of the nation’s savers is that the British economy is still laboring due to a lack of spending. What the nation requires are measures designed to put money in people’s pockets, necessitating more government investment in order to offset the lack of investment on the part of the private sector, which continues to sit on a giant cash surplus. Back in January the government’s own Office for National Statistics (ONS) put the amount of said surplus at 334 billion pounds. This is an investment strike by any other name, which the government is responding to with measure after measure – tax cuts, tax breaks, subsidies, below-inflation pay rises across the public sector, thereby acting as a brake on pay in the private sector - designed to bribe them to end it.

Ultimately, the chancellor’s 2014 budget merely confirms that Britain is a country where socialism for the rich is being paid for with austerity for the poor.

Karl Marx, lying in his grave at London’s Highgate Cemetery, could never have seen that one coming.

Isitmebut Fri 21-Mar-14 11:19:32

Whereas both Groucho and Harpo Marx will be peeing themselves in their coffins having read all THAT one sided claptrap.

So here is Labour’s record in power, the salient features, having inherited the best decade in 100-years to make important social changes, make provisions for pensioners, build enough homes - and build on the Conservative sustainable economic model.

Labour were the most spun media controlled and corrupt administration in living memory with ‘Blairs Labour cash for Lordships’ investigated by the police, Brown’s lowering of Capital Gains Tax to as low as 10% to attract party money from the City and MP expenses totally out of hand on THEIR watch and Labour’s Parliament Speaker Michael Martin running the show, Knighted for his services to MP’s expenses.

Pro EU without trusting the people to vote… pro open door immigration from 2004 for personal gain AND without increasing home building to make room …with 580,000 under 25-year olds here already unemployed... pro flat lining State Education rather than raise standards…pro needless laws/police State with more legislation passed in their 13-years than the previous 100-years… pro Human Rights Act in 1998 causing so many ‘rights’ for criminals/terrorists problems.

Pro MRSA/C.Diff killer germ infested NHS hospitals hiring more managers than nurses.. pro saddling hospitals and schools with 25-year plus Private Finance Initiative debts….pro 24-hour drinking, gambling and declassifying drugs….pro expensive quangos costing over £70 bil a year to run.. pro expensive to run local government (with non jobs) leading to Council Tax hikes up 110% on their watch..

Pro raiding private personal pensions from 1998, including private sector companies to near final salary screwing state pensioners with derisory annual State pension e.g. 75p in 2000….pro raising the lower band tax rate to screw the poor in 2007…pro sale of 40% of UK gold reserves under $300 an ounce versus $1.900 high.

Pro relaxation of banking regulation to dangerous levels pre financial crash..…anti business/private sector jobs, pro sending 1 million of our manufacturing jobs elsewhere by 2005 BEFORE the crash and overseeing UK manufacturing sink to half of the 22% of our economy in 1997.

Pro lying to go to war and without equipping soldiers with basic kit and helicopters... ….pro nuclear energy to stop lights going off in 2015, but didn’t get around to building any.…pro defence/Trident, who knows, let someone else get around to it….and leaving us less domestic food production secure than in 1997.

With a balanced budget by 2002 having adopted 1997 Tory spending plans, pro unbalanced economy = ANNUAL budget deficit MORE than £150 bil a year in 2010 and national debt of £1.5 trillion by 2015 needing unpopular austerity, or go the way of bankrupt Greece…….pro equality but left power in 2010 with more inequality than in 1997…and finally as mentioned in their 2010 manifesto, less fat government cuts and pro increased taxes to all to pay for their incompetence (that will then kill economic growth), they cynically never got around to telling us about in any detail to fool the voters, but like death, you know it is coming.

incompetence on a grand scale, and what was Labour's cunning plan in 2010 to cure all the UK's problems and increase Private Sector jobs and pay rates in the largest recession in 80-years?

It was put UP both the Fuel Duty and National Insurance rates and lower VAT a few percent. They had no idea how to fix their problems in 2010, they are only working out what they did wrong now. Marvellous.

Isitmebut Fri 21-Mar-14 12:04:33

ALL recessions “cause despair”, that is why they are called recessions; so when Labour passes over the largest recession in 80-years, with no plans by 2010, 2 1/2 years into their financial/economic crash, how to combine the rebalance the economy, create private sector jobs and solve the increasing debt (costing £53 billion annually to service) – other than MORE OF THE SAME – the UK was heading for a very dark place.

An increase in State Spending can be a major part of the solution if a government is running some semblance of a lean, balanced and sustainable economic model, but it wasn’t.

The UK that from 2001 increased spending over 50% in real terms in several years, on fat expensive government, a growing benefits bill that should have shrunk not grew during Brown’s ‘boom’, and unreformed services - WAS BEING FINANCED by the proceeds of City profits, excessive bank lending, £billions more from the Housing price boom e.g. stamp Duty and government/consumer debt – and THAT is why when those tax receipts plummeted and those expenses increases, we HAD the largest Budget Deficit in Europe.

It does not help the poorest in society if like Greece, when markets either cease financing a countries growing annual deficits or charge 15% in interest, leaving those poor rummaging through bins to eat.

I’ve explained this unbalanced economy/deficit to you at the end of this thread, why have you not answered it yet?

Isitmebut Fri 21-Mar-14 15:24:00

Regarding pensions and low interest rates, let us remember WHICH government over the past 20-years was so mean to pensioners and encouraged the Savings Ratio to plummet and UK Household Debt as a percentage of income, go from 97% in 1997 to 168% in the 1st quarter of 2008.

WHO if not Brown encouraged BTL investment to alleviate the lack of homes being built and a secret immigration policy by dropping the Capital Gains Tax to a tapered low of 10% on long held investments, and still left power with it at a flat 18%. At one stage Brown was to allow pension investors to buy homes via a Self Invested Pension Plan, but the rise in prices ahead of it made alarm bells ring and he pulled out at the last minute.

WHOSE near unregulated banks in the whole of Europe and the U.S. had to be part-nationalised e.g RBS, WHO was in power for that financial crash, and was responsible for the lowest Base Rate in 300-years/Quantatative Easing.

The UK economy now growing faster than any other G7 country, that saw the biggest fall in output of any major economy in 2008, initially flatlining in the Coalitions first few years as the country had to be weaned of the unsustainable fat State and £150 billion debt spending/consumption, into a sustainable one,that various reforms since 2010, has encouraged the Private Sector hiring of well over 1 million.

The Private Sector is sitting on a huge amount of cash as they have seen a financial crisis that plummeted their stock prices, saw banks going under and consequently hardly any bank lending PLUS for larger companies their access to bond market finance open at punitive interest rates, if at all.

Furthermore, the likelihood of the return of a Labour government in 2015, who instead of providing Public Sector jobs and lowering taxes to help peoples pockets, like some South American dictatorship they politicallyfail to see why in a great recession wages to inflation are lower – and promise to hit company profits ‘to control prices’ – any wonder that they will hold back more investment until after the General Election?

Energy as an example, despite energy volatility due to the likes of oil that went from $20 a barrel to $147 while Labour were in power and current mad Russians re gas, thanks to Miliband as Energy Minister our reliance on power companies to build new nuclear power plants is key to our lights staying on – so it’s populist policies of the economic madhouse.

And as for Labours promised cuts and increased spending on a fat inefficient State financed by more tax rises, in a ‘more of the same’ promise in 2010, we never saw them itemised Darling, as Labour didn’t have the Balls to do it.

Yet Miliband who in power with the Darling blue-print would have “cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher” has opposed all coalition cuts and spending – so ‘the faithful’ can blame the Conservatives led coalition – how politically brave of our NEXT leader of of UK men (and women) to create (and not loose) more private sector jobs, sustainable prosperity and rely on in a crisis. God help us.

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