Thursday 17 March 2016

What’s a bloke got to do in your job to get the sack?

The morning after George Osborne delivered his 2016 budget of failure he had an absolute car crash of an interview with John Humphreys on the Today Programme. After pointing out that Osborne had broken two of his three fiscal rules, Humphreys asked the killer question "What’s a bloke got to do in your job to get the sack?".

It's about time

The mainstream media have given the Tories, and especially George Osborne, countless free passes on their litany of broken promises, failed policies and outright lies - so it's about time they were held to account by somebody.

Take the pre-election "contract with the electorate" the Tories launched with great fanfare back in 2010. When it became clear they had broken almost every promise it contained they simply deleted it off their website in the hope that everyone would completely forget about it during the 2015 General Election campaign!

If the mainstream media had wanted to, they could have had an absolute field day with that story, but they chose not to. This meant that a hefty proportion of the 24% of the electorate who handed the Tories a majority government had no idea how much of a failure the 2010-2015 Tory led government was in their own terms of reference.

Broken promises

Just a few months ago in November 2015 George Osborne was crowing hubristically about his three fiscal rules. When he delivered his budget of failure in March 2016 he had to admit that he'd broken two of them. He'd failed to cut debt as a share of GDP and he'd failed to keep to his self-imposed welfare cap too.

Presumably he'd hoped that headline grabbing announcements (the tax on sugary drinks, more ISA giveaways, more tax cuts for the rich and his plan to force privatise every school in England into the hands of unaccountable private sector pseudo-charities) would distract attention away from the fact that he's failed so desperately in his own terms.

The budget deficit

Osborne's one remaining fiscal rule is the promise to eliminate the budget deficit by 2020. The problem here is that his own pet thinktank the OBR have stated that there's only a 50-50 chance of him achieving that, and they haven't even factored in the likelihood of another global financial sector insolvency crisis into their calculations, which makes them pretty over-optimistic considering the largely unreformed state of the global financial system.

To put this 50-50 claim from the OBR into perspective it's important to remember that in 2010 George Osborne promised that his ideological austerity agenda would have completely eliminated the budget deficit by 2015. This means that his very own thinktank say that he only has a 50-50 chance of achieving in 2020 what he promised to do by 2015!

The lunacy of Osbonomics

The idea that a combination of "lets cut our way to growth" and selling off the national silver at bargain basement prices constitutes a "long-term economic plan" is shockingly ludicrous, yet so many people seem to have lapped it up, and the mainstream media have consistently failed to question the bizarre macroeconomically illiterate assumptions that underpin the argument for ideological austerity or the blatantly cherry-picked statistics used to prop up the absurd Tory "economic recovery" mantra.

Simply assuming that all government spending constitutes "waste" and imposing across the board cuts (apart from a few ring-fenced areas like pensions, bribes for foreign states to build our nuclear reactors for us and bombing raids on Syria) is economic lunacy. A much more sensible approach would be to identify areas of government spending that create good returns on investment and spend more there, whilst cutting spending in areas that produce poor returns on investment. The problem with this approach is that the economic evidence conflicts so harshly with Tory ideology. Some of the best returns on investment include things that the Tories hate (spending on social housing, direct government investment in infrastructure projects and welfare for the extremely poor), and one of the absolute worst methods for achieving good returns on investment is showering the super-rich with tax cuts.

Selling off the family silver to create short-term revenues is so far away from being a sensible component of a "long-term economic plan" I think it would be deeply condescending to even bother to explain why.

Recycled promises

Osborne's recycling of his 2010 promise to clear the deficit by 2015 is mirrored by other Tory ministers simply recycling their broken 2010 promises in the present. A notable example is Theresa May's recycled 2010 promise to cut net migration into the UK to below 100,000 despite having overseen the biggest spike in net migration in recorded history in 2015!

It's absolutely clear that George Osborne isn't the only Tory minister who deserves to be asked "what's a person in your job got to do to get the sack?". Theresa May's track record at the home office has been absolutely dismal, endlessly oscillating between imposing right-wing authoritarian attacks on our rights and liberties and draconian half-baked family-destroying immigration rules, and Iain Duncan Smith's tenure at the DWP has been nothing short of a deadly, false economy riddled, repeatedly unlawful, desperately mismanaged shambles.

There are other staggeringly incompetent ministers in this Tory government like Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling, but the big mystery is how the trio of Osborne, May and IDS are still in their jobs after six years of such abject failure.

Who would replace George Osborne?

With such an appalling track record of failure, and his bloody-minded insistence on loading the burden of ideological austerity onto ordinary people whilst showering corporations, the financial sector and the super-rich with one giveaway after another, it's clear that George Osborne is fully deserving of the sack, but given the absolute dearth of talent within the Tory party that allowed a hopelessly underqualified professional towel re-folder to rise so effortlessly to the top of the party and stay there for so many years, who on earth would replace him?

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Austerity is a con
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

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