Once again we have entered a major football tournament clutching our hopes and dreams of success on the international stage to our chests, only to find ourselves, in the event, clutching at straws. Every time we enter a competition it is with our heads held high and with our ambitions plastered across the national newspapers. Then we come crawling out of it like some lame animal after some miserable defeat. Then the grumble across the lips of the nation is “and from the country that invented it”.
But we did not invent it! What sort of a remark is that?
Although the budget and it’s details have drawn a divide between many politicians within and without government, there is something of a consensus that Labour were reckless with the public purse. David Cameron said of Labour’s ‘”Sorry there’s no money left” note’ that it was "13 words that sum up 13 years of complete cavalier arrogance with the taxpayers’ money". Newspapers told us in May how even the government’s own “Top civil servants made formal protests over Labour spending”. And Labour’s so called ‘Scorched earth policies’ and the “Financial ‘stink bombs’ left in Whitehall” upon the accession of the new Lab-Con government have made Labour look not only irresponsible but also like sore losers at a school sports-day.
A ‘We’re all in this together’ sort of mentality has been emanating from Mr Osborne, and that the June emergency budget is a tough but fair approach. Though, it doesn’t take a political philosopher to realise that an equal application of the law does not necessarily have an equal affect upon the population. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has predicted that 1.3 million jobs would be lost as a result of spending cuts over the next five years. The IFS also found that, George Osborne’s plan to reduce spending by 25% in almost all areas of government and public services except healthcare and overseas aid, will disproportionately affect the poor; in fact, it will hit the poorest six times harder than it will hit the richest. Said the Observer, “The Tories’ shock tactics threaten to send us back into recession, and to condemn millions of young people to a life of unemployment”, and the slashing off 10% of the jobseekers allowance may become the lib-con’s equivalent to Gordon Brown’s 10p tax rate abolition (that, coupled with Labour’s bailing-out of troubled banks, made it look like the first socialist government to take money from the poor and give it to the rich).
Though Labour’s job creation schemes were expensive, they did at least work; but they are being scraped, along with 250,000 university places and literacy lessons for those adult ‘low-achievers’ who left school early.
There is a certain underclass in Britain which the conservatives like to call ‘Broken Britain’, but they would do well to remember that Broken Britain is one of Thatcher’s many legacies. Broken Britain was created by millions of young people tumbling out of school and onto the dole in the 1980s, never managing to right themselves and having children who in turn have known no model of work. What with the disproportionately negative affects of the emergency budget on the poor, this cycle looks set to repeat itself.
If you have been following the financial press as of late, you’re probably well aware that there is a contentious debate between deficit reduction hawks and those who call for the more state spending to boost global demand. At the latest juncture of this debate, Toronto’s G20 summit, the international community sided with the deficit hawks and committed to halve deficits by 2013. One would imagine this hysteria over public debt is a response to market pressure. Not so, say the bond markets. The latest calls for debt reduction, far from a reasoned response to economic reality, are products of an ideological opposition to a strong state sector:
Instead of bond market fears, the US has an intense political debate about deficits and whether to spend more on fiscal stimulus. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, has talked of “spending fatigue”. His Republican opponents have set up “YouCut” – a weekly public vote on which spending to cut, American Idol-style.