Skip to main content

A government bereft of ideas abandons the economy for a pint of beer

Budgets come and budgets go; they rarely live up to their headlines. Much of a Chancellor's budget is flim flam, but they can set the tone, and they are often revealing more for what they don't do than for what they do. They are also best judged later rather than in the immediate aftermath of their delivery.

I am impressed by how few of us can recall very much of significance in the last budget. It must stand in history as one of the most frivolous budgets. While the country trundles along in  recession, Osborne takes a penny off a pint of beer. The Tory backbenches cheered, but they must now wonder what it was all about, and where the Chancellor is heading. As the right wing think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies has said, 'Plan A is dead', but the government is bereft of a Plan B.

The government still chants its mantra that there is no alternative. But not only are there alternatives, there are several, the government no longer has a coherent financial strategy. It has lost its way. Its policies have failed in their declared objectives, and yet they still argue that theirs is the only way.

Government ministers still like to peddle the sound bite about getting the deficit down. They claim erroneously to have done so. I have discussed this nonsense in previous articles. I won't rehash the arguments. But whatever their claims once were,  the reality is that the deficit is now rising. Over £600 bn will be added to public sector net debt during the course of this parliament. This is a truly staggering sum given that the government has no plan for growth. It is symptomatic of failure, because they claimed their policies would cut the deficit. The pain would be for the gain of cutting it. We have the pain, but none of the gain.

Another reality check is that, whilst the cuts in benefits are hurting people they are not contributing much to the declared aim of getting the deficit down. The poorest are being hit the most but for very little gain in the country's finances. And far from having a strategy for growth, the government has cut 'investment spending' by a staggering 67%.  It is a flawed and bonkers strategy.

The government, bereft of ideas, has abandoned the economy for the price of a pint of beer.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services.

It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared.

Utilitarian ethics considers the balan…

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well.

No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing.

The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party.

That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team.

Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more widel…

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods. 
Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects? 
A new report now provides some of the answers.

New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases caused by …