Monday, July 05, 2010

Dragging myself back to blogging

I can't remember feeling more less inclined to blog since I started back in 2006. And that's not overwork - though the usual pressures apply which I won't rehearse again.

Instead, I'm profoundly depressed and angry about the emerging political landscape, and the future for all of us. It's not just the duplicity of the Budget, when attacks on the most vulnerable were dressed up as progressive politics - it's the dawning realisation that those of us involved in community politics will be spending the next few years cutting valuable programmes that made a difference to people's lives, and seeing dedicated public employees thrown on the scrapheap of unemployment.

It's not what I came into politics for. Seeing the hope sucked out of communities will be a profoundly dispiriting spectacle. Still, it's important to plough on, to articulate Labour's progressive alternative. I don't believe this Coalition of chancers will survive anything like a 5-year term. We have to hope that their project to gerrymander British politics will ultimately fail, and a better programme - and governing party - will replace it.


james said...

We shouldn't get too downhearted - it is by no means certain the coalition will hold together. Though what has depressed me most is the silence from Liberal Democrats.

As for the economic case for the emergency budget & cuts within this financial year - the head of Pimco has said it was "unnecessary".

ianw said...

James, here here. I have read many figures stating the harshness of the cuts are too swathing, the loss of BSF was no shock to me or others I have spoken with.

The silence from the Libs is deafening all I can say is I too hope the coalition soon crumbles.

Anonymous said...

There was a piece on the radio today saying the national debt currently runs at around 12% of GDP, a truly horrifying figure until you take into account 11% is directly attributable to the banking bail-out. Yet we the public are expected to pay. A relatively modest Robin Hood tax on the banks could have netted £24billion and negated the need for the VAT rise. Personally I'm getting a bid fed up with this Tory narrative it's Labour's debt when the truth is the debt was racked up by Cameron's mates in big business...

Paul Cain said...

Once again Councillor, I find myself almost admiring your sheer brass neck.

Would you have been as depressed by the cuts that Labour would have made? Remember how Alistair Darling warned Labour's cuts would be worse than Thatcher?

Yes, seeing the hope sucked out of communities is a profoundly dispiriting spectacle - for which people like you and your party colleagues are directly, and solely, to blame.

And as for the Tories' gerrymandering of the political structure of the UK - words fail me.

What: the political structure that saw Labour gain a substantial majority with 36 per cent of the vote in 2005, while the Tories couldn't even form a majority government with the same proportion in 2010?

Labour fiddled the system to its own advantage and now your opponents are about to do the same thing, yet you have the nerve to whinge?

As for Anonymous's piece claiming that much of the debt is down to the banking bailout: Just not true.

The bank bailout might end up costing us 6 billion overall - figures helpfully provided for us by Alistair Darling before the election.

The real causes of debt/deficit are structural - in other words unaffordable public spending, run up by Gordon Brown in the years when the economy boomed thanks to an explosion of credit - a system, of course, created and managed by the Labour Party (and don't forget the truly frightening debts the country faces thanks to bloated public sector pension liabilities and PFI projects)

I also find it ironic that those on the left continually go on about banks and big business.

I didn't hear you lot whining in the early years of the decade when banks, especially, and big business were providing tax revenues for your favourite soclal engineering projects.

The top 1 per cent of earners pay around 20 per cent of the country's entire tax revenues. Low earners do not even pay their way in tax terms.

That might be unpalatable to someone with tribal leftish political instincts, but it's the unavoidable truth.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

I have to agree with Paul Cain here. The legacy of debt left by Labour is truly frightening, but it has to be tackled head on and that is what the Coalition Government are doing.

There was an article in the Mail on Sunday yesterday from a journalist from the Toronto Globe and Mail in Canada which gave details of how Canada managed to pull itself round in the 1990s from horendous levels of debt. The following quotes from the article put it all in persective.

"At the time Canada's budget deficit had risen to 5.3% of GDP. Britain's deficit today is 10.1% of GDP. Canada's public debt was approaching 70% of the economy - a point Britain is likely to reach next year..... Canada's Liberal Government elected in 1993 on a programme of expanded social services came to its senses in 1994 and realised that the main beneficiaries of government hand-outs were foreign moneylenders." That is precisely what is happening in this country.

james said...

Alan, do you know what has happened throughout the 20th century when British governments have attempted to reduce public expenditure? I'll tell you - the national debt has increased.

Canada's debt reduction measures took place in the context of a global expansion and the country benefited from bordering the US...

We did not worry about the national debt after World War 2 - the focus was on putting people back to work and creating the welfare state. The debts from this took 60 years to repay - I doubt you even noticed it, Alan.

The real purpose of the "deficit reduction" programme is not to reduce the deficit - but to restructure the state to ensure that ordinary people pay for a crisis caused by the rich.

Why else has the ConDem government proposed massive changes to the NHS which will benefit private healthcare firms and which will cost £1bn that could go to frontline services?

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

I actually studied the political and economic situation from 1945 onwards as part of my degree course in the 1970s.

I beg to disagree the national debt after the War not being a preoccupation. It was a major preoccupation of governments Labour and Conservative in the 1940s and 1950s. Britain came very close to bankruptcy a number of times in the late 1940s and were kept afloat by loans from America. To such an extent that America effectively ran our economy. I think the final request for a loan was refused by America and Atlee's Government were forced to introduce austerity measures such as charges in the NHS. Nye Bevan and Harold Wilson resigned from the Cabinet because charges were introduced into the NHS.

The dreadful state of the economy and the national debt was one of the reasons why the Conservatives won the General Election in 1951. I think it was the MacMillan Government who managed to restore a modicum of prosperity in the late 1950s and early 1960s and it continued with one or two hiccups under the stewardship of Roy Jenkins when he was Labour's Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late 1960s. However the recovery was dashed by unaffordable wage demands and trade union militancy in the 1960s and 1970s which directly led to the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher winning in 1979. We were described as the 'sick man of Europe' throughout the 1970s. The economy didn't really recover again until the mid 1990s under Kenneth Clarke and then it all went wrong again.

Oh I think you will find that the measures introduced do aim to reduce the deficit.

james said...

Alan, thanks for the Tory re-hash of postwar politics and economics - complete with references to "unaffordable wage demands" (at a time of high inflation, people were bound to ask for pay rises to match this) and "trade union militancy" (daring to ask that wages keep pace with living costs).

What you don't mention is that measures to reduce the national debt by reducing public expenditure did not work - each time the national debt increased. Ireland today - the model for the Tory age of austerity - had its credit rating downgraded again.