For the first term, in 1997, the Labour government deserved cautious praise. The minimum wage, Sure Start, the banning of fox hunting. There was much to be pleased with. With the drift to the populist right, the next 10 years were a murderous farce. Labour took us into an illegal war. Our pensions are not worth a jot. They dismantled civil rights at an alarming pace. Beyond Gordon Brown clearly having a healthy contempt for the average voter, there is very little to be said for them. I’ve just joined the Labour Party. Why? The Tories. It’s obvious and puerile to lay into the Conservatives and their supporters. So let’s do it!
Almost human, the Tories have their cards marked as semi-sentient greed merchants when you consider their natural supporters. It’s easy to lay into bankers. The reason it’s so easy is because they are self-lining vermin. The investment banks claim they help the country with wealth creation. I don’t deny they create wealth. It’s wealth that goes offshore quicker than they spunk their dirty mess up a coked-addled Hollyoaks extra. What use? Fat use.
High street banks defend their position on the grounds that they support the local businesses. This would be the same group of banks who are now so isolationist they won’t even lend to each other. This would be the same group of banks who make grating, faux matey ads where we are led to believe that they spend their time in DJ booths instead of repossessing your house. This would be the same group of banks that charge 14% APR on your overdraft. A bank you own charging you interest - now that’s the definition of faux matey.
Just months into a coalition, the writing is on the wall. This week George Monbiot revealed the plans to turn Britain into a tax haven. Not just any old tax haven, but one where the breaks are set up specifically to advantage large, multinational companies. Right now, the banks - our little mates remember, with the staff who remember our kids’ names on their home visits - are closing credit on eminently viable small and medium businesses.
Osborne might protest, but this is like him doing a shit lap on Top Gear in the wet. Yes, it was wet, but it would have been a shit lap in the dry, George.
It’s reasonable to suggest most British people would thus welcome tax credits to allow them to create jobs in Britain, or stay afloat in a depression. An example of this was Labour allowing VAT payments to be deferred. George Osborne though, decided the way to support business was to allow oversized corporations the unnecessary break of not paying tax on money brought into this country. We are the only country to have such an absurd tax break.
This runs counter to the claim that ‘we’re all in this together.’ Given more than half the front bench were educated at the ludicrously expensive Eton, and that our chancellor stands to inherit millions, the government would have to go a fair length to convince us of their belief in this claim. They wouldn’t, for example, cut housing benefit, affordable housing budgets, disability allowance and sell off our forests, would they? Oh, right, they would. They brazenly lie to us, to convince us that, ‘we’re all in this together,’ simply by repeating it, literally, ad nauseam.
They paint themselves as in it for the little guy. A list of their greatest hits reveals this to be hysterically untrue. They’ve cut Education Maintenance Allowance, which gave cash to poorer students to ensure, or at least encourage them to take their A-levels. Poverty is the driving reason for poor educational performance, and they just directly increased poverty to those aiming to improve their education. As important, they introduced tuition fees with a £9,000 ceiling. If you want to put people off education, and destroy social mobility, I cannot think a better way than making it seem prohibitively expensive, and then cutting their chance of taking an exam even to be considered.
At a time when people need their jobs to be kept, the government have zigged where the consenus has zagged. Mavericks. That’s right, they’ve started a massive anti-investment drive in order to reduce public employment, at a rate seemingly designed to secure a double dip recession. Their answer to protests against cuts, apart from beating up the disabled? The geniuses have decided not to be conciliatory, but to put legal obstacles up against strikes. That’ll engender respect and public obedience, Dave.
I am not arguing the public sector could not be reduced nor made more efficient, but I am arguing that putting people out of a job, in the middle of a recession, and on to the balance sheet for the state welfare budget, is not forward planning. The cuts are far too gung-ho, clearly.
Right now, the banks - our little mates remember, with the staff who remember our kids’ names on their home visits - are closing credit on eminently viable small and medium businesses.
That more or less defines this government - gung-ho. Gung-ho selling our forests - leading to an outcry from an unsurprisingly massive demographic. Trying to sell off a rescue service only to realise that putting profit into 999 is sheer madness. Ridding the world of asbos before reintroducing them with a different acronym. Banishing quangos only to keep most of them on. In some ways, that’s fine. Having an idea and reconsidering when you think it through is admirable. But in the most important area, the economy, they are not for turning.
The last quarter’s growth was flat. The government have blamed the snow, but the forecast that already took into account the snow was 0.4%. The forecast without the weather would have been closer to 0.9%. Regardless of weather, the country underperformed, its confidence so deflated by the horizon on unemployment and social stagnation. Osborne might protest, but this is like him doing a shit lap on Top Gear in the wet. Yes, it was wet, but it would have been a shit lap in the dry, George.
Of course, it’s not just the Conservatives’ fault. There are some Orange Book bastards. Who’d have thought that dancing Vince Cable, once of friendly oil conglomerate Shell, would turn out to be not quite the egalitarian as he painted himself ? Nick Clegg, in search of a legacy, came up with a paean to Alarm Clock Britain, a heartfelt tribute to anyone who got up in the morning, crassly desecrating the memory of the war dead. Nick Clegg - Alarm Cock.
So that’s why I joined the Labour Party, not necessarily for any positive reason, but because right now, things are overwhelmingly negative.
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