Tuesday, 28 July 2015

WARNING: The Future Osborne Offers You

The scale of cuts in spending proposed by Osbore means the wasting away of the hardest hit departments. They're even visited in health  which is supposed to be protected  but is seeing crowded A&E,hospitals in growing debt excessive pressure and ambulance delays.

All that in a protected department. Those facing big cuts will see a collapse in morale coupled with a growing pay discrepancy, vacancies unfilled and growing staff turnover as the more competent leave first and the quality of the staff declines as the high paid are fired and cheaper less experienced staff brought in. Fees will increase in every available way such as charges for licences services parking and using toilets.

Some services will be put out to cheap tenders. There'll be constant reshuffles  distortion of results to make things seem better than they are. Delays will grow, morale will collapse and fiddles and crime will grow because of the lower chances of detection. Friction will grow with every group or provider the department works, complaints will rise  Fewer will be dealt with but spurious statistics will pour out claiming that the public are more satisfied, that suspensions push people into jobs when they're really condemned to misery. Or crime.

Rubbish won't be collected as regularly, the overstretched police will become social workers of last resort taking their eye off crime,care homes dependent on low wages will close, Labour's achievements like Sure Start, family intervention and poverty reduction will be eroded, and the BBC will decline in quality and coverage. And parents: parents will think twice about family size since third and fourth children don't get credits.

All this takes no account of the misery which is to come when interest rates are raised as they will be. A nation which has struggled to maintain its spending during the long years when take home pay has stagnated is going to be badly hurt and required to cut back when rates go up by even the small increase and the gentle progress upwards which we're promised.

The government wont do anything about all this. After all if public services get worse and worse they provide every excuse for abolishing them altogether. The slimmed down state wont be a happy one .It may not be what you voted for but its the future neo-liberalism offers you.

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Myth of Blairism

In all the media manufactured fear and the candidate jealousy about Jeremy Corbyn  and the claims that if he wins Osborne will get a thousand year reich and Labour will go to the  same fate as the Liberals or the Whigs we have tended to forget one essential fact.

Oppositions don't win governments lose. The nicest most virtuous and Blairite Labour Party in the world ain't going to win if Osborne's policies work. But they won't. The Tories won in 2015 because the electorate usually gives a first time incumbent the benefit of the doubt and a second chance

Since then the doubts have got greater the desperate promises are being dropped and three factors point to failure. Policies against the grain of sense ain't going to work. The consequences for the poor will be highly publicised and arouse altruism and stimulate their sense of fairness and the cuts will hit his middle class vote as well as the workers they're intended to punish. Specifically their quality of life will decline, crime will rise, their kids will be debt risen and homeless and their services will become shabbier.They're not unhappy at the working class being punished but would rather it was done to benefit them rather than foreigners, banks and the big corporations.

Blair won in 1997 when the economy was growing strongly. People weren't scared, they'd had 18 years to get fed up of the Tories and the government had lost credibility over the ERM. None of that applied in 2015 and the best Labour could hope was a minority government with coalition support which scared folk cos the SNP was the only support offering and that made people fear for the union.

So Labour should avoid sudden new answers, changes and mea culpas, stick to its policies and protests and wait for revulsion to build so  the situation comes its way. We can't produce that change but when, if we stick to basics we can say I told you so ,underline it and show how we can deal with it not compound it. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Like it or not (and I don't)this is George Osborne's time. Not the age of Osborne because it won't last but a time when he dominates the Tory Party,leaving Cameron to pick up the pieces of the promises they cant fullfil. He dominates the stage,mesmerises the press and sets elephant traps for the Labour Party which we duly lumber into.

It's quite an achievement for a lad whose policies are so wrong headed  they'd make Nigel Lawson blush. Everyone thinks its due to a supreme intelligence. In fact its the manifestation of a reptilian cunning coupled with a childish desire to play naughty tricks and a disposition to show how clever he is after being repressed for too long. 

The reality is he got a second class degree and has a second rate mind of the kind that latches on to half understood ideas  becoming obsessed by them to the exclusion of sense where a first class brain like Cameron would pick the bits that are useful, junk the rest and flit easily from one set of ideas to another without believing in any of them. 

Its this obsessiveness which makes him such a threat He sees no use for the state wants to pare it down to nothing by anorexia as an economic policy thus cutting spending  to provide tax cuts for the better off and balancing the budget by 2020. Fine in theory. Disastrous in practice because it betrays no understanding of how the economy works

Cuts deflate demand. Firms want higher and sustainable demand to invest .British capitalism is dependant on the state. Having lost out in world competition for markets it has retreated into a protected niche where its better called scrounger capitalism than competitive enterprise It leaches on the state, takes functions from it to make profits,doesn't invest but gobbles seed corn and demands heavy subsidies to keep going .Easier to do that than to make things and sell them to the world even though the supply of cut price assets from the states must eventually dry up leaving a shrinking ,manufacturing base losing more jobs and requiring ever more imports and producing an ever widening trade gap which is already the greatest in the advanced world

We've become a tax haven attractive not to overseas investment but to the rich  and to funny money and its manipulators.Once a nation becomes dependant in that way it is more and more difficult to break out and rebuild because the incomers become a powerful vested interest against change

Reducing borrowing  in a recession (which we still are) doesn't make sense .It reduces activity and demand. The only time to pay off debt  is in a strong sustainable recovery  which this isn't. Until we get that unemployment will be higher than it should be, ,government revenues less and expenditure on the dole of misery,on subsidising rents wages and benefits will be greater

That's the economics .The politics are that the strategy,while it hurts the poor and Labour against whom its directed it also alienates the people who voted for it. The tax cuts will benefit the really well off rather than them but their services and the quality of  their lives will decline,because, unlike the really rich (the background he and Cameron come from, they cant afford to insulate themselves in their own little world.Policing will be less adequate ,their kids will be priced out of everything but burdened with debt A nation of which they're proud will sink into irrelevance as a weaker economy means a weaker pound ,weaker defence , a weaker say and a growing burden of foreign debt. Governments always say Britain will punch above its weight but economic anorexia will make the weight much less.

That's the future Osborne offers you. Its difficult to shift the blame for all that onto  Labour, the unions and  scroungers. Not that that will stop our George from trying.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

What a mess!

You could say Labour's performance last night on welfare deform leaves something to be desired..The party split ,lost the initiative to the SNP and even the Libs and ended up looking both divided and wrong.

Poor Harriet thought we'd lost the election because we didn't look competent and by competence she means tough enough on the plangeant poor. She's wrong of course. We lost because we didn't offer hope  and because the Tories created a scare about Scotland. The question of competence can only arise if you're offering something.

We bovine Brits will put up with anything but by highlighting the disastrous effect of these mean malevolent changes on working mums, young people,poverty and those who have to move house  because of the housing benefit cuts and all working on low wages who lose money there will be an altruistic reaction. Things shouldn't be this way in a civilised country and no society treats is youngsters this badly.   The English don't particularly  like each other but they don't like to see suffering and there's going to be a lot of that  among those least able to cope. That's going to build up and change the mood of the country

It's not too difficult to look at a bill and say does it do more damage then good.. This bill did implement a few ideas from our manifesto (some of which shouldn't have been there)  but to abrogates more principles such as support for third and later children its living wage is a phoney rebranding of the minimum and it does so much vicious and unnecessary damage that it should have been opposed at birth and all the excuses for abstaining look like the pathetic and phoney double talk of creeps. Which they are. The new MPs shouldn't have been conditioned to this.

To add to that the government's vaunted recovery (which is the Bank of England's in fact) is already petering out,exports are suffering,interest rates will rise making everything worse and the vicious and unnecessary cuts across the departments are going to produce a real deterioration in the quality of life as well as the abandonment of more of the promises for imrpovement held out in the electioon  

Have faith. This government is going to fail.But if Labour betrays its role as the protector of the people the reaction against that failure won't necessarily come our way. Things can only get better. But they'd better do so PDQ

Saturday, 18 July 2015


Labour's lacklustre leadership debate consists of four characters in search of an idea, telling the rest of the party what's wrong with it. Time to stop it! And recognise that, whatever we do, this government is going to fail because all its promises of tax cuts, jobs and better times ahead are predicated on maintaining 2014's growth rate and that ain't going to happen.The government won by lies and will now suffer the consequences.

It's like 1959. Macmillan won by telling folk they'd never had it so good, but couldn't keep the good times rolling. Labour divided between left and right and then came back together as they saw that Mac had sailed up shit creek.

Back then the Tory promise was growth. Now it's recovery and all the tax cuts and promises are predicated on getting it by 2020 - but growth is faltering, exports failing, productivity pathetic. Instead of marching, the makers are scrounging perks and subsidies and leaching on the state,  while foreigners are buying up everything as in a banana republic, tax haven.
Commentators hail Osborne for renouncing Thatcherite free market economics and turning back to the use of state power to regulate wages, limiting family size and stimulating growth. This crap misses the main impact of the budget, which is the traditional Tory one of giving to the haves and taking from the have nots. Particularly young ones. It does nothing for Britain's major problems which are boosting exports and investment, reducing the huge subsidy bill to business and rebuilding the manufacturing we need to live by.

Why this pathetic failure should make us quake in our shoes and promise to support Tory cuts is a better indication of Labour's lack of confidence than of any economic sense about how to save a once great nation from the decline it's now embarked on. Harriet Harmon was fighting a different election if she thought that people didn't vote for us because we weren't close enough to Tory meanness. People want work, homes, hope and a feeling that their country is going somewhere. We lost because we didn't provide any of that. They didn't particularly like what the Tories were offering, but saw it was simpler and clearer than our offer, so they gave them a second chance knowing full well they'd fucked up the first but hoping that they may have learned. Tragically, once a Tory always a Tory. They never learn, but usually get worse in their second term because re-election has puffed them up. So it's a chance to fail because Osborne's neo-Liberalism won't work.

Labour's time will come, but it wouldn't be advisable to meet it with a lot of claptrap about aspiration, being nice to business, loving the EU, balancing budgets or avoiding borrowing.