Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Ever feel like you've been conned?


When the Lib-Dems enabled the Tories back into power in 2010, the Coalition government immediately launched their hard-right austerity agenda.

the two main themes the Tories used to push this right-wing ideological nonsense were fear-mongering over the size of the budget deficit, and the idea that we all have to make sacrifices together.

They promised that if we made the cutbacks then the entire budget deficit would have been eliminated by the end of the 2010-15 parliament.

Ever since they realised that they were not going to fulfil this promise they've been continually shifting the goalposts. As the 2015 General Election approached they even recast their failure to do as promised as a wonderful success story with the unbelievably brazen "we've cut the deficit by a third" narrative!

In 2017/18 the budget deficit was still an incredible £40.7 billion, and the Tories are now projecting that the deficit won't be gone until 2031! A staggering 21 years to achieve what they bragged they would do in less than 5!

When it comes to being "all in this together" it's even worse. Since 2010 UK workers have suffered a devastating collapse in the real value of their wages. It's so bad that the UK is on a par with crisis stricken Greece for wage deterioration!

To make matters even worse the Tories imposed massive real terms cuts to a whole range of in-work benefits like Tax Credits, sick pay, parental pay, Council Tax Relief, and Child Benefit, meaning that not only were people's wages collapsing, the top-up benefits to help low paid workers get by were being stripped away too.

Meanwhile the Tories continually lavished tax cuts and handouts on corporations and the mega-rich.

Since the Tories came to power in 2010 the upwards redistribution of wealth has been so severe that British workers have suffered a wage collapse as bad as the Greeks, while the mega-rich minority have actually doubled their wealth!

Of course austerity was never going to work if it involved cutting back the wages of millions of workers in order to fund a massive increase in the decadence of the gilded class.

If the government is spending less on infrastructure projects, and the public have less to spend because the value of their wages is collapsing - of course there's going to be a collapse in economic demand and a shortfall in tax receipts.

If the national economy is being held in an ideological choke hold in order to fund a massive upwards redistribution of wealth to the mega-rich, of course both the public and the government are going to end up borrowing more and more and more in desperate efforts to stay alive.

It's appalling that so many people ever fell for this economically illiterate austerity narrative in the first place.

Of course the Tories are to blame for their greed and their economic illiteracy, but we also have to look at why so many people are susceptible to believing Tory economic fairy tales.

The first thing to note is that virtually none of the 93% of us who went to state school received even a basic education in economics. Had the public had even the slightest smattering of economic history, then we'd have known that "let's cut our way to growth" has never worked, and that the proven way of kickstarting a post-crisis economy is through targeted investment in infrastructure and services that generate good returns on investment (think of the New Deal in the US, or the post-WWII investments of the Attlee government).

Then there's the mainstream media, who steadfastly refused to hold the Tories to account for their economic incompetence. When they tried to rebrand their failure as a success with their lamentable "cut the deficit by a third" narrative, they should have been absolutely torn to shreds. Every time they've shifted the goalposts they should have been torn to shreds.

Thanks to endemic levels of elitism in British society mainstream journalism is still heavily dominated by those who did go to private fee-paying schools, so they should have known that austerity dogma was economically-illiterate ahistorical rubbish from the beginning, but they refused to call it out.


Then there's the so-called 'centrists' who were complicit in the Tory austerity con. The Lib-Dems actively participated in the austerity con between 2010 and 2015, and the Labour right-wingers who controlled Labour's economic policy during the Miliband leadership actually decided to pathetically imitate Tory austerity dogma, rather than vehemently opposing it. Their aim was to nick a few thousand 'soft Tory' votes in marginal constituencies, but they failed to factor in the fact that a dollop of Tory-lite austerity gruel was always likely to drive away multiple traditional Labour voters for every 'soft Tory' it attracted.

Then there's Brexit, which could never have happened without the massive wave of public anger caused by devaluing wages, destruction of the social security net, and collapsing public services. Had there been any real political opposition to Tory austerity dogma, people could have focused their anger at the Tories, but instead the extreme-right gleefully filled the political void by blaming immigrants and the EU for the consequences of hard-righ Tory austerity fanaticism.

So thanks to failures in the education system, the mainstream media, and the austerity enabling political 'centrists' the Tories have managed to get away with this outright con for eight devastating years, resulting in the slowest post-crisis economic recovery on record, and the looming threat of another even worse crisis in the shape of a ruinous Tory "no deal" Brexit.

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