Skip to main content

Austerity wasn't necessary

Britain's first budget since leaving the EU shows little to no Brexit dividend.  Digesting the UK Chancellor's budget will take a bit of time...just a bit.  But it is already clear that there is little of the trumpeted Brexit bonanza.  There is no windfall from Brexit.

Of course, some will argue that there was never going to be any.

Instead, the government has abandoned its economic principles, planning now to increase borrowing to spend on big infrastructure projects and cope with the coronavirus pandemic.   It is a crisis budget.



We saw none of the £350 million a week for the NHS that adorned Boris Johnson's Leave campaign bus.  We did get an extra £6 bn for the NHS, which is woefully short of the £18 billion that was suggested as a bonus from Brexit!

Of course, nobody believed the battle bus figure in any event.  It was a porky pie.  Not only did it get the number wrong for our payments into the EU, but it was also a sleight of hand to suggest that this could be used to fund the NHS.

Yet, despite the increased spending and the massive borrowing, there is no end to austerity.  We will still see the growing crisis in social care and children's services.  We will see the social fabric of our society continue to deteriorate.

Bricks and mortar alone in grandiose schemes like HS2 are not sufficient to rebuild our towns and communities.

But the budget tells us something crucial.   Austerity was not necessary as a response to the banking crisis in 2008/9.  It was always possible for the government to borrow to spend.  It was even possible for them not to cut income tax for high earners.  

It wasn't necessary to slash funding to local authorities so that they could not afford to meet their statutory requirements, and pushing them towards bankruptcy.

It wasn't necessary to cut benefits and drive hard-working families into poverty.

The Tory government and the Coalition before it took the opportunity to make the poorest families pay for the bankers' greed.







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 ba

Mr Duncan-Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison

Some time ago, actually it was a long time ago when I was in my early teens, someone close to me bought a table. It was an early flat pack variety. It came with a top and four legs. He followed the instructions to the letter screwing the legs into the top. But when he had completed it the table wobbled. One leg he explained was shorter than the other three; so he sawed a bit from each of the other legs. The table wobbled. One leg, he explained, was longer than the other three. So, he sawed a bit off. The table wobbled. He went on cutting the legs, but the table continued to wobble. Cut, cut, cut! By this time he had convinced himself there was no alternative to it.  He ended up with a very low table indeed, supported by four very stumpy legs and a bit of cardboard placed under one of them to stop it wobbling on the uneven floor.  Mr Duncan-Smith argues that we need a 1% cap on benefits to be 'fair to average earners'. Average  earners have seen their incomes rise by less tha

His way or none? Why I can't vote for Jeremy

There is an assumption that all would be well with the Labour Party if people hadn't expressed their genuine concern with what they consider the inadequacies of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If only, it is said, the Parliamentary Labour Party and his Shadow Cabinet had supported him, instead of undermining him, all would have been fine. If they had been quiet and towed the line, then the party would not have been in the mess it is in. So, should they have stayed silent, or speak of their concerns? There comes a point when the cost of staying silent outweighs the cost of speaking out. This is a judgment. Many call it a coup by the PLP. They paint a picture of a right-wing PLP out of touch with the membership.  This is the narrative of the Corbyn camp. But Jeremy Corbyn, over the decades he has been in politics, showed the way.  It was Jeremy Corbyn who opposed almost all Labour leaders and rarely held back from speaking out, or voting time and again against the party line. As