Today's Grauniad features a Call to Arms by the ORIGINAL "Phony Tony", Mr Wedgie Benn.
"It is time…" he says "…to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government's budget intentions."What the fluff does THAT mean? Strikes? Roadblocks? Burning lorries at major interchanges? A network of underground bunkers? Seizing control of the television channels? Strongly worded letters?
I realise, with "the A-Team" back in action, it's like the EIGHTIES never went away, so it's REALLY no surprise that Hard Labour, like the A-Team, are shooting off all over the place without ever hitting a target.
The former Viscount Stansgate continues:
"They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s…"That would be the Coalition's plans for savage cuts, just to distinguish them from Hard Labour's "more savage than Thatcher" cuts.
"…which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services."Okay, couple of points first: "NHS" That would be the NHS with its spending ring-fenced, guaranteed an increase year on year at least as much as Hard Labour would have given. How is THAT going to be "devastated"?
(Oh, "the reorganisation" – please, DO explain how channelling finding to the front line and cutting out middle management is INEVITABLY bad?)
"Education" That would be the education system that has been specifically protected from the worst of the cuts, and where the Coalition will be INCREASING funds to the schools for the worst off kids under the Lib Dem's PUPIL PREMIUM policy. How is THAT going to be "devastated"?
(Oh, "the free schools" – please DO explain how City McAcademies are GOOD under Hard Labour and BAD under the Coalition; go on, tell us how CHOICE is good under Hard Labour but people volunteering to set up more schools for MORE choice is BAD under the Coalition.)
"Pensions". Those would be the pensions where the Coalition has just RESTORED the link to earnings, something Hard Labour NEVER DID in thirteen years, where in fact the Coalition has gone further with a triple lock protection that will see state pensions rise by whichever is MOST of earnings, prices or 2.5%. How are THOSE going to be "devastated"?
(Oh, the "raising of the retirement age" – please DO explain how you were going to PAY for people to go on living longer and longer with fewer and fewer people of working age to support you all in your evermore extended retirement.)
There ARE going to be cuts, and they ARE going to be TOUGH, but these HORROR stories are really OVERPLAYING the Hard Labour hand.
How painful does it have to be?
It's often said, if you ask someone to cut 10% of their spending, they will grimace and grumble and find a way to do it, but if you ask them to cut a QUARTER of their spending then they will think it's IMPOSSIBLE.
But you've got to remember that the Coalition's proposals are not for 25% cuts THIS YEAR. We are proposing 25% cuts "in real terms" over the five years of the Parliament.
"In real terms" here means "if inflation were zero" or "you're allowed to spend a bit MORE for inflation before you work out your cut".
Look, just suppose we are looking at a Labour budget and they were going to spend £100 this year. Let's assume that inflation is the Government's target of 2%. Each year we will try to spend 4% less.
This year: we spend £96 when Labour would have spent £100.
Next year: we spend £92 when Labour would have spent £102 (that's £100 plus 2% inflation).
The year after: we spend £88 when Labour would have spend £104.
The year after that: we spend £85 when Labour would have spent £106.
In the fifth year: we spend £81 when Labour would have spent £108.
£81 is 25% less than £108. We've actually got to the Coalition's target by cutting JUST 4% each year.
Does that sound a bit more manageable now?
I don't want to oversell this. Cutting 4% in Year 1, I think we could all see that as doable. I'm sure we can all think that there are things that the Government does that it doesn't need to do. But once you've taken out those things, the so-called "low hanging fruits", it's going to get harder to keep on tightening the belt year on year.
Pay freezes will help. Recruitment freezes will help. There's no denying that those things are going to be painful, though: they mean people doing more for the same money, while prices go up (not least because we're putting up VAT!), so they get relatively poorer. And they mean young people not having as many opportunities to enter the workplace. These things are HARD.
But Hard Labour isn't interested in doing things that are HARD; they want to take the EASY route of FRIGHTENING people, and LYING to people to say that it's not necessary, that we don't need to cut spending, that the magic pixies would keep on giving us gold from the end of the rainbow (China).
"The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers' profligacy."Oh yes, I thought we'd come to this: it's ALL the BANKERS fault. That's Hard Labour's only excuse. You can't blame US; it's ALL the BANKERS fault!
Who BORROWED all that money from bankers, eh? Hard Labour, that's who! Mr Frown was spending WAY more than the country could afford for YEARS before the credit crunch. And it was all ON TICK. All those extra jobs in the public sector – paid for with other people's money; all those arts grants and community schemes – paid for on the never-never; all those promised school rebuilding programs – paid for with money that never even existed. Typical Hard Labour, expecting someone else to come along afterwards and pick up the tab for them.
And what about the rest of us? That housing bubble didn't come out of nowhere. It was inflated by people borrowing money against assets that weren't worth it.
Oh yes, the bankers were COMPLICIT – complicit up to their eyebrows, some of them – but it takes TWO to TANGO. People borrowed, and Hard Labour encouraged them to borrow, money to fund a nice life. But it wasn't ever REAL. Sooner or later the money would run out.
We were ALL profligate. Whether it was personally or whether it was because Mr Frown was buying an army of pen-pushers in our name, we all, as a country, spent far too much.
No more boom and bust was a LIE. It was the lie that Hard Labour told to keep us all running those credit cards.
Saying that the recession was "all the bankers fault" is Hard Labour's NEW lie to excuse their own GUILT.
"The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners."I don't know about you, but I don't know that I LIKE my gay daddies being classed as a "most vulnerable" by this hereditary politician. I don't know that I like seeing people bundled up in a SHOPPING LIST of "categories", either, as though we just OUGHT to owe allegiance to the Great Nanny of Hard Labour just because of some quirk or characteristic or other. I've never really liked Hard Labour's habit of putting people on LISTS… it's SINISTER… it's just a short step from that to their habit of ROUNDING PEOPLE UP. And then come the "detention orders". No, I don't like this AT ALL.
Explain to me HOW the Coalition cuts TARGET minorities, signle parents, gay daddies, and AGAIN with the pensioners? We don't even know what the cuts ARE yet, so either you can see the future (so you should have seen this coming) or you are MAKING THINGS UP.
The people who will see the cuts first aren't the people on your list; they are the people who've signed your letter who MAKE A LIVING OFF of the people on your list, those "community spokespeople" and "local organisers" who make little empires out of Government grants. Maybe we'd take you more SERIOUSLY if you were suggesting that we could save a few NURSES jobs by cutting back on some of them.
Or are you just trying to FRIGHTEN as many people as possible?
"Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden."Oh you ARE just trying to frighten people. "Expected" by whom, may I ask?
"The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest."Yes, that was "proved" by the FIB-ian society, wasn't it, and has quickly become an old favourite in the Hard Labour song book. Of course it's total nonsense, because it assumes that every single penny of Government spending reaches the "frontline", that everything they spend OUR cash on has a "cash value" to each and every one of us. And we are worse off by cuts according to how much we would have to spend to make up the difference. So it assumes that if the Coalition cut the armed forces by 10% it assumes we would have to pony up the equivalent cost to provide mercenaries to fill the shortfall. It assumes that if the Coalition cuts a layer of middle management, we would shell out to employ the bureaucrats ourselves. I suspect we might just make do with fewer bureaucrats. (Sorry Lady Mark!)
"Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors."And ALSO expect more people to be in employment; you can't just take the job losses and ignore the potential gains. Well you can, but it's DEEPLY DISHONEST.
We reject this malicious vandalism…Again, resorting to name calling. You don't have an ARGUMENT so you just ascribe ill-will rather than address an alternative point of view. No one is allowed to think thoughts the Wedgie does not allow.
…and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative…Which would be WHAT, exactly?
…with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.Because RIOTS and STRIKES are SO helping put the Greek economy back on a sound footing.
This government of millionaires…More name-calling; what's WRONG with being a millionaire?
…says "we're all in it together"We are.
…and "there is no alternative".No, that was the REAL Eighties; come back from the Time Warp.
But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.Corporation Tax is a tax on the profits of companies, not on "the rich"; I know it's NICE to conflate the two, but not ALL businesses are super-massive corporations. Most, in fact, are not.
Cutting Corporation Tax is to encourage home-grown businesses to grow and foreign businesses to invest here, so that there will be more JOBS for those working people you claim to speak for. And the Bank Levy is set to be more than the banks save in lower Corporation Tax.
As for the bonus culture, do you see anyone in the Coalition DISAGREEING with you? Aren't we actually doing MORE than Hard Labour to tackle excessive bonuses and force the banks to do actual banking and lend to businesses in need?
An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control…Like British Leyland that Wedgie nationalised so successfully in the Seventies?
…and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich…which the Coalition did already, see Capital Gains Tax
…plugging tax loopholeswith you there
…withdrawing troops from Afghanistaner, that doesn't raise any revenue
…abolishing the nuclear "deterrent" by cancelling the Trident replacement., um, likewise. Though you'll notice that the Liberal Democrats want Trident to be IN the defence review. Unlike Hard Labour.
An alternative strategy could use these resources to:No, you've missed the WHOLE POINT. You can't just say you will DIVERT the overspending from things you don't like to things you do like.
I will say this very slowly and clearly.
YOU. WILL. STILL. BE. OVERSPENDING.
Basically, the rest of his no-longer-lordship's manifesto is to OPPOSE for the sake of OPPOSITION because Conservatories are just BAD and the Liberals DON'T COUNT and are SELL OUTS anyway.
It is WORDS without POLICIES. It is POLITICS without MEANING.
How many times have you heard phrases like: the Lib Dems "sold their principles for power", the Coalition is "gerrymandering" or "partisan"; policies are "ideological"?
Which principles are we supposed to have sold out? Is it not the Labour Party's aim to get into power again? Does that mean that you've sold your principles too or that you do not have any?
If we're "partisan" for saying that a system that disproportionately favours the Labour Party must be made fairer, how does that make you NOT "partisan" for opposing that? In fact, how is it POSSIBLE for one Party to be partisan and the other not and still disagree?
And what's WRONG a bit of ideology? We just had a General Election where people supposed chose the ideology that represented them – yes, the outcome we got was a bit of a MIX of ideologies: Liberal, Conservative, whatever-it-is-that-Labour-are-supposed-to-stand-for-now-they've-dumped-Socialism. That's DEMOCRACY.
In a proper argument, these words and phrases ought to MEAN something, but Hard Labour are just using them all as synonyms for "bad".
Hard Labour have NOTHING to say. They are using LANGUAGE rather than POLICY to oppose the Coalition. They want to FRIGHTEN rather than PERSUADE anyone of an alternative. In the absence of something to say, they are just using the only thing that is left to them. SPIN.
That is the REAL irony here: Hard Labour are the ones, by their actions, who are saying "there is no alternative".