...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 3580: It Could Have Been Worse… if the Liberal Democrats had NOT been in the Government


The Khasi of Kalabar: They will die the death of a thousand cuts!
Princess Jelhi: Oh! But that's horrible!
The Khasi: Not at all my little desert flower; the British are used to cuts!

So, Master Gideon's been playing with the scissors.

Look, of COURSE this isn't the Comprehensive Spending Review we'd have WANTED. If the Liberal Democrats had WON the election we could have got rid of Trident AND Tuition Fees. But don't imagine that this is a CONSERVATORY spending plan either.

Can you believe that the Conservatories would have put two-and-a-half billion pounds into the pupil premium? Put two billion pounds into social care? Put a billion pounds into the Green Investment Bank? Maintained science spending? Continued with Cross-Rail? Built more affordable houses?

Would the Conservatories have learned the lessons of the 'Eighties, and even while cutting the budgets have made sure that we continue to maintain enough capital spending to keep our hospitals and schools and roads and rail from falling apart? Would they have kept on those jobs and essential skills through the difficult years until the economy picks up?

Do you think that the Conservatories ALONE would have made the Bankers pay MORE than they did under the Hard Labour Party? Two and a half BILLION more? Would they have pressed to make the better off shoulder more of the burden? Would they have cut the Child Benefit of the better off?

The Liberal Democrats in the coalition have made sure that even though this is TERRIBLE for everyone, a little has been put aside to try to make it a bit less terrible for the least well off. That is why we actually AGREE with the Conservatories that Health and International Development should be protected; that's why THEY agree with US to protect the education budget.

Ask yourself this: wouldn't a MAJORITY Conservatory government have chosen to ring fence the DEFENCE budget? It wasn't. Do the maths.

You've GOT to count getting a deferral of the Trident atomic rockets a big WIN for common sense. Hard Labour had actually DECIDED to go ahead and by the enormous useless fireworks, and we managed to get it bartered down to UN-DECIDED. Putting it off until the next election when, who knows, maybe more than ONE Party will see it as a titanic exercise in willy-waving waste of money.

So everything's LOVELY is it?

No, of COURSE not.

We're a TRILLION pounds over our heads in debt and the water just keeps getting deeper. It's going to take ALL our efforts, ALL this PAIN, for the WHOLE of this Parliament JUST to turn the fluffing TAP off!

And to get out of this MASSIVE WATERY METAPHOR we're SLASHING benefits for the sick and the disabled; benefits for those in work and those not in work; benefits for those with children, just not the least well off with children; benefits for bus and train fares, so even if you want to work you can't get there; benefits for the young and homeless – sure housing benefit is a rip-off poured down the necks of middle-class landlords, but you need to reform the RENTS not just the benefit!

If you work in the public sector, you'll have to pay more to get your own pension and you'll get no more pay, even when prices go up to pay the extra VAT, for doing the work you do now and the extra work you have to do because the department is downsizing.

But so long as your union doesn't go berserk (yeah, right) you might just, just keep your job.

Tonight Mr Danny "champion of the spending round" Alexander is e-mailing Liberal Democrats to say we've done the right thing. Well we haven't. We've merely done the LEAST WRONG thing we could.

This is hard, possibly the hardest thing we'll ever do. And it's cruel. And it may even be terribly horribly wrong.

But I'll tell you what it's NOT.

It's not "ideological".

It's not a "reckless gamble".

It's not "an attack on women/children/the elderly/the poorest/any other unnamed straw-man victim".

At the end of this Parliament, the Coalition will be spending 41% of GDP on public services. That's more than Lord Blairimort and Mr Frown spent for half the time they were in power.

All Parties, ALL of them, agree that getting the deficit down is COMPLETELY NECESSARY. The differences are a question of speed, not of policy. Hard Labour say they believe in getting the deficit down just as much as we do. So they are being JUST as ideological as we are.

Ah, they say they would raise tax rather than cut spending. No, not really. The Coalition intend to cut spending by about 5% a year. Under Alistair Dalek, Hard Labour planned to cut spending by 4% a year. No, it's not ideological, is it.

And this tax they would raise. From whom? Not on "ordinary" people, says Mr Johnson and Johnson, newly minted Economics for Dummies reader. But as Lady GoreGore points out: they'd only tax the EXTRA-ordinary people, the best and brightest, the ones who found the companies and make the inventions, create the music and win the prizes. Great strategy for growth, you've got there Mr Johnson and Johnson.

Is Coalition policy a risk? Yes. Yes, of course it is. There's ALWAYS risk. There's a RISK in doing it Hard Labour's way too. We want to cut the deficit in one Parliament; they want to cut it in two. Our way there is a risk that we cut too soon and send us back into the recession that we've just got out of; their way, we won't have finished getting out of the last hole before the economic cycle means we run straight into the NEXT one with no time to prepare. And their way there's ALSO the risk of the markets losing confidence in us, the way they lost confidence in Greece. Weigh up the risks. Look at the facts. Make your best judgement. It's ALWAYS going to be a gamble; Hard Labour policy (when they HAD one) would have been a gamble. But this isn't reckless.

Ah, say Hard Labour, not Greece but Ireland! They went for austerity and things still got worse for them. Yes, they did. But they got worse IN SPITE of Government action, not because of it. They got worse because Anglo-Irish bank was STILL bankrupt because of all the over-priced empty houses that they built. They got worse because all the businesses that had flocked to the Celtic Tiger flocked away again. No, I'm afraid it's "Nul points" for Hard Labour's Eurovision entry: "Economic Comparison".

And for the record, an "attack" is when you deliberately and illegally invade a Middle Eastern country with the intention of KILLING people. I realise that Hard Labour have some difficulty recognising this. And no, I'm REALLY not ever letting that go.

People are going to get HURT by this, people we don't WANT to get hurt – we don't want to hurt ANYONE, but people we PARTICULARLY don't want to get hurt will still get hurt. But they are going to get hurt because the economy is in TATTERS and this is the FALL-OUT.

Hard Labour left us with the WORST legacy. I know, you EXPECT me to say that, and they refute it, but EVERYTHING, EVERY SINGLE THING that they say amounts to excuses and denials and oh no it isn'ts.

We have the WORST debt/GDP ratio of the G20, that's all the proper grown-up economies and a few basket cases thrown in. And we're worst. Even if you somehow claim that the borrowing through the recession somehow DOESN'T COUNT (which is what Hard Labour are doing) then they had proudly managed to get us back to the same level of MESS as the disastrous Mr Major Minor left the country in back in 1997. As though this is something to be PROUD of, rather than a record of WASTING an entire DECADE of boom. As though this was "okay" rather than a totally DISASTROUS place from which to start the worst recession in post-War HISTORY.

We have to cut benefits and fire soldiers and cancel schools, but we also have to spend five billion quid to build two aircraft carriers which we don't need and which won't have aeroplanes on them, one of the ever, because Mr Frown went ahead and signed a contract that makes it more expensive to cancel them than to build them.

There WAS a choice to hurt those people. It just wasn't ours.

Honestly, if he'd been a COUNCILLOR we could have SURCHARGED him personally for the whole five billion!

Still, at least we can flog one of them. I hear Kim Jung-Un is looking for a new fishing boat. (Just kidding, folks!)

So this ISN'T the Spending Round we wanted. The time is wrong. The company is wrong. The economy is more wrong than you can spend a month of Sundays explaining.

But remember this: when Great Britain needed us, we stepped up to the plate.

If it fails, for sure, blame us. It won't be so much as we blame ourselves. Believe me, we ALREADY blame ourselves enough. We're crying BUCKETS.

But if it succeeds, just you remember who it was who did this and did it RIGHT.

It was the Liberal Democrats.

1 comment:

Richard Gadsden said...

I remember Conrad saying that when he joined the Liberals, his dad said he'd never vote for the party of the Somme. I regard not letting Labour off for Iraq as revenge.