Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The 'centrist' bubble of delusion is absolutely extraordinary


I've just seen a bunch of smug centrists on Twitter lauding the 2010-2015 Coalition government as some kind of great success story because it wasn't as bad as the current shambles (the turd in the hand is better than a turd in the gob defence) and describing their litany of failures as "niggles".

Well here are just some of the catastrophic failings that these intolerably smug centrist types and the small core of die-hard Lib-Dems are trying to shrug off as just minor niggles.
Niggle 1: After the Lib-Dems decided to abandon the their core student demographic to win a tiny taste of second hand Tory power, students these days are being lumbered with £50,000+ in debts which 77% of them will never pay off despite entire lifetimes of paying a 9% aspiration tax on their disposable income
Niggle 2: Between 2010 and 2015 literally thousands of disabled people died within six weeks of being declared "fit for work" in Tory disability denial factories. Instead of doing something to combat this disgraceful situation, the coalition government tried to just hide the evidence of this death toll from public scrutiny.  Imagine the kind of person who considers a government desperately trying to hide the death toll from their systematic abuse of disabled people to be just a "niggle".
Niggle 3: The Coalition government introduced many unlawful pieces of legislation. Two of the most horrifying were Iain Duncan Smith's workfare schemes designed to unlawfully force jobless people into working for no wages at giant highly-profitable corporations, and a Coalition government scam to dissuade employees who have been mistreated at work from seeking compensation by unlawfully charging them £1,200 in fees to access the employment tribunal system
Niggle 4: As Home Secretary for the Coalition government Theresa May promised to reduce net migration to below 100,000. In reality they oversaw the biggest immigration surge in history peaking at 336,000 in 2015. Somehow, despite actually increasing net migration to its highest level ever, Theresa May remains popular with the bigot demographic because they adored her divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric and her "Go Home" vans so much that they allowed themselves to forget about her actual track record. 
Niggle 5: The Coalition government introduced the Justice and Security Act, which legislated Secret Courts into existence. This one flew under the radar because the mainstream press basically ignored it, but what they did was to undermine centuries of British legal tradition with new rules so that people can have their fates decided in courtrooms they're not allowed to enter, on charges they're not allowed to know, based on evidence that they're not allowed to see. 
Niggle 6: Thanks to their deliberate policy of repressing wages, the Coalition government oversaw the longest sustained collapse in the value of workers' wages since records began. I guess some people are so comfortably well off that they can consider the worst ever devaluation in UK workers' wages to be just a "niggle", but for people living on or near the breadline already after the bankers trashed the economy, it was catastrophic. 
Niggle 7: The Coalition government oversaw the lowest level of new house building since the early 1920s. Two things make this very much worse. House building is one of the proven ways of stimulating struggling economies, so cutting house building during an economic crisis is pure idiocy. The other of course is that a strategy of cutting house building whilst allowing the biggest immigration surge in history is guaranteed to stoke house price inflation, which is exactly what happened, with house prices soaring to their most unaffordable levels ever as a result. 
Niggle 8: The Coalition obsession with hard-right austerity dogma meant that they set about cutting all kinds of beneficial forms of public spending in their blind ideological quest to make short-term savings. Of course you can save some money by cutting wasteful spending, but ideologically driven cuts to stuff like flood defence spending is complete lunacy, because for every £1 invested today, flood defences save £8 in avoided damage and disruption further down the line. To make matters even worse David Cameron rewarded the woman who introduced the government policy of 'save £1 now at a cost of £8 later' with a DBE for political and public service
Niggle 9: The Lib-Dems binned most of their main principles in order to leap into bed with the Tories. Arguably the worst betrayal of all was the way they completely sold out the parliamentary reform movement by agreeing to a referendum on AV, rather than demanding a modern form of Proportional Representation as a condition of joining the government (with a referendum on the precise form the new voting system would take). Another betrayal was their failure to secure reform of the House of Lords. In fact the Lib-Dems watched on gormlessly as David Cameron stuffed the Lords with new unelected peers at a faster rate than any Prime Minister in history, swelling it to become the second largest legislative chamber on earth (after the Chinese parliament). The reason parliament is still such a mess today is that the Lib-Dems threw away their golden opportunity to enforce reforms in order to swan around in chauffeur driven ministerial cars for a few years.
Niggle 10: The Lib-Dems helped the Tories carve open the NHS for mass privatisation of services whan they backed the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.  The current chaos in the NHS is a direct consequence of the Coalition government's health policies.
Niggle 11: The Lib-Dems helped Michael Gove to vandalise the state education system by giving away thousands of publicly owned schools, for free, to unaccountable private sector pseudo-charities. Several of these private academy chains have gone bust leaving schools in crisis, or collapsed in orgies of fraud, others continue on gouging huge six figure executive salaries out of taxpayer funded education budgets to this day. 
Niggle 12: The Coalition government engaged in a massive fire sale of UK national infrastructure. Some of the worst deals included selling off the Royal Mail at way below its real market value (netting huge instant profits for a bunch of city spivs including one of George Osborne's best mates), selling off chunks of the nationalised banks at huge losses to the taxpayer, and flogging Britain's stake in Eurostar for an unbelievably tiny fraction of what it cost the country to build it
Niggle 13: Between 2010 and 2015 the global tide really began to change away from ideological puritanism and towards rational drugs policy. As Home Secretary Theresa May insisted on swimming in the opposite direction, criminalising the very mild stimulant Khat, pressurising the United Nations into not adopting rational drugs policy, and introducing a total farce of a law intended to ban possession of all non-approved substances, including drugs that haven't even been invented yet. May copied the legislation from Ireland, where handing the 'legal high' market to criminals resulted in the biggest surge in the usage of these drugs anywhere in Europe. Since Theresa May introduced the same legislation here, guess what? A huge upsurge in usage and the horrifying Spice epidemic! 
Niggle 14: Huge cuts to the police and emergency services mean that the per capita level of policing in the UK has fallen back to 1970s levels, huge numbers of crimes are going un-investigated, and the number of deaths in house fires has soared due to the closure of dozens of fire stations. But to self-declared centrist types dying in a house fire, or having the police fail to even investigate after your house was burgled are obviously just "niggles".
Niggle 15: Coalition government ministers continually used the "striver vs skiver" false dichotomy to defend their cuts to the social security system, but the bulk of the cuts actually affected the working poor. They slashed tax credits, and imposed real terms cuts on loads of other in-work benefits like housing benefit, child benefit, parental pay, statutory sick pay, and benefits paid to help disabled people to stay in work. 
Niggle 16: The Coalition oversaw an absolute boom in exploitative employment practices like Zero Hours Contracts, the gig economy, and employers forcing their employees to take on fake self-employed status in order to pay them below the minimum wage. It's no wonder that in-work poverty has soared so dramatically with the boom in exploitative employment practices combined with the Coalition government's systematic attacks in in-work benefits.
Niggle 17: The Coalition government oversaw an exponential growth in food poverty, with hundreds of thousands more people each year turning to food banks like the Trussell Trust in order to feed themselves and their kids. 
 Niggle 18: The Coalition government signed up to one of the worst rip-off deals in history by agreeing to bribe the French and Chinese into building us a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C. Not only will this power station end up being the most expensive object on earth by the time it's completed, Coalition ministers agreed to pay double the market rate for the electricity it produces for 35 years.
Niggle 19: The Coalition government oversaw the worst UK productivity crisis since the early 19th Century, which is hardly surprising at all considering the boom in exploitative McJobs, and millions of workers subjected to increased workloads for decreased pay. 
Niggle 20: The Coalition government had a very illiberal attitude towards criticism and dissent considering one of the component parties was the so-called Liberal Democrats. One of the ugliest pieces of legislation they passed was "the Gagging Law" designed to prevent organisations like charities, community groups, trade unions, and think tanks from criticising government policies. 
Niggle 21: One of the most savage Coalition policies of all was their draconian benefits sanctions regime. 5 minutes late to sign on, suffer a heart attack during a meeting, miss an interview because you're in hospital to comfort your wife after your child was stillborn ... Fuck you! No money for months. Not only have people been sanctioned for the harshest of reasons, but it soon became clear that jobcentre staff were being actively pushed to comply with sanctions targets. Just think about it. If you're instructed to condemn 4 people per week to absolute destitution, is it easier to quickly trick a few people with mental health problems or learning difficulties into making a sanctionable mistake, or to spend hours and hours trying to catch out the minority of hardcore benefits scroungers who know the rules better than you know them yourself? Vulnerable people died because of this horrific punishment system.
Niggle 22: The Coalition government decided to hand a huge tax break to fracking companies by slashing their corporation tax rate in half. They did this because they knew fracking wasn't financially viable without such a vast tax break. Numerous senior Coalition ministers had clear financial interests in the fracking industry when this decision was taken. 
Niggle 23: The Coalition government promised that by 2015 their hard-right austerity programme would have completely eliminated the budget deficit. When it came to 2015 and it was obvious that they'd failed, they simply rebranded their failure as a success by endlessly repeating "we've cut the deficit by a third" as if missing their target by 66% is super-brilliant. Now we're in 2017 and the deficit still hasn't gone, and the Tories are predicting they won't be able to eliminate it until 2025. Over 15 years to do what you said you would do in under 5. Good work guys! 
Niggle 24: The Coalition government's obsession with hard-right austerity dogma dramatically prolonged the recovery from the 2007-08 bankers' crisis because "let's cut our way to growth" is an idiotic policy at the best of times, but it's economically suicidal when the private sector is hoarding assets rather than spending, and when the cost of government borrowing has been reduced to an all time historic low with central bank interest rates set at only marginally above 0%. 
I've stopped at 24 niggles because it's a nice round number, but there are so many more niggles I could have written about (the VAT hike, Bedroom tax, DRIPA, Internet snooping, the Libya disaster, Corporation tax cuts, soaring child poverty, railway chaos, legal aid cuts, flooding our schools with unqualified teachers, the social care crisis, tax-dodging, the prisons meltdown, ruination of the adult education system, armed services cuts and aircraft carriers with no aircraft, the massive trade deficit, selling arms to tyrannical regimes on their own blacklist of repressive states, mental health funding cuts ...)

The worst thing is that the combination of all of these factors (especially the erosion of wages and working conditions, the massive increase in in-work poverty, house price inflation, spectacularly missed immigration targets, public service deterioration, and the needlessly prolonged recovery period) created the surge in public anger that manifested in the "fuck this" Brexit vote.

So Liberal Democrats and the so-called centrists can try to delude themselves that the Coalition was a great success story with just a few niggles if they like, but it just goes to show what an out-of-touch bunch they are.

The reality is that hard-right Brexiteers like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove deliberately rebranded the niggles (or  "shocking failures" as normal people call them) of the 2010-15 Coalition government as failures of the EU, in order to con the British public into voting for Brexit.


Of course the 2010-15 government looks less bad now than it was at the time, because in comparison to this post-referendum chaos and incompetence, every single government in living memory looks a lot less bad than it actually was. But this kind of comparison is delusional, because it was the niggles/catastrophic failings of the 2010-15 coalition government that led directly to the situation we're in now.

It's utterly ridiculous to whitewash the failings of the 2010-15 government because they weren't quite as bad as the government is now, because the state of the current government is a direct consequence of the ruinous failings that these bloody awful centrists and Lib-Dem apologists are now trying to whitewash away as just niggles

Anyone with any sense can see that the pathetic state of the current government is the biggest Coalition failure of all, not a reason to create a revisionist story about how bloody great they were in hindsight.

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