Image shared on Flickr via a CC licence by Russell Higgs
Edit: I also recorded a slightly abridged version of this blog (with pretty moving pictures) which you can listen to on Youtube, click here.
This is just a quick blog post, I’m not sure what difference, if any, it’s going to make, but I have to say this, if at the very least to have somewhere to point people so I don’t have to keep on repeating myself. Warning: may contain anger.
The Tories are going to break our economy. They’re going to dismantle all that is admirable about our state in the false name of saving money.
The Tories, aided by the centre right Lib Dems, are going to tear the heart out of our country. Because they have never needed one, because they can’t conceive (for the most part) what it’s like to be anything but supremely privileged.
And they’re going to do so whilst skipping along to the tune they have a lazy, complicit, right wing media parroting ad nauseum; ‘this is Labour’s fault’ ‘in the current climate’…
Since when was applying market values to education and health provision ever a good idea? How is that working out for the US? We need expertise, and we need efficient, competent services. Market capitalism brings us to bust, or it provides us with a service at the lowest cost. How much is your health, how much are your children worth?
When did we all forget that this was a global financial crisis? Or did I hear wrong, did it not hit the US (well known for their incredibly profligate education and health provision) just as badly as us, and everyone else? When did we forget that it was Cameron and Osborne’s pals the de-regulated (hello Thatcher) bankers that got us here? When did we forget that the NHS was founded in the largest period of national debt our country has ever known?
Fallacy number 1:
‘This is down to years of Labour’s Profligacy’
Did you know that public spending (as a % of national income) in 1999-2000 was the lowest since 1957-58?
There was pretty much a similar degree of fluctuation over Labour’s terms in power as have been going on since 1950, notably with a large injection of cash following 2007 in order to stop the bottom falling out of our little capitalist world. So, y’know, probably forgivable.
And you know what? I am happy for public spending to rise.
“Estimates from the Office for National Statistics suggest that public services have improved considerably over the period from 1997 to 2007 with measured outputs suggesting a one- third increase in the quantity and quality of public services” Source (PDF)
Because it gets spent on us.
I want to live in a state that supports those who are ill, young, old, injured, made unemployed, that works to keep its citizens healthy and educated, things like free swimming, and free school meals for low income families. The amount of money it costs to keep a society healthy and educated pales in comparison to the cost of treating and supporting the ill and unemployable.
Fallacy number 2:
“The cuts have to happen”
No. They don’t. What you mean is ‘the deficit needs to be dealt with’, that is a very different statement indeed. The heart of which is making our economy better, yes?
In the light of the cuts being made/announced by the coalition government the economy has already started to stall, house prices are falling, UK employment growth has stalled, and the next quarters cross sector projected unemployment figures have already risen by 5.5% (the public sector projection is 8%, can we afford to lose 8% of nurses, teachers, doctors, police officers, social workers? And when did we decide ‘bureaucracy’ is a bad word – we do need some administrators and managers).
http://thecutswontwork.co.uk puts it excellently:
“About 1 in 5 of our workforce are in the public sector, and if they lose their jobs, they stop spending, their local shop goes out of business, the government loses their income tax and VAT and if there aren’t enough private-sector jobs to pick up the slack the economy grinds to a halt.
This is Key Stage 2 economics.”
Fallacy number 3:
“This about Big Society! Choice! Empowerment!”
This is about the dismantling of a state that the Conservative Party sees as ‘nannying’ (did you ever have a nanny?), what they mean by this is 1) ‘I’ve always looked after meself’ and 2) ‘all this pesky regulation is stopping meh being as super-rich as meh father!’*
I am much more concerned about the use of bounty hunters to police people on benefits’ cashflow, than I am about regulation meaning big business is slightly inconvenienced. Likewise I’d like state education that is run on principles of learning, not market efficiency. How about you?
The Big Society myth is about excusing further cuts with the misguided idea that the voluntary sector (whose government funding is also being cut) will be able to mop up the fallout.
The Young Conservatives say it best:
“Nobody knows what the Big Society means! It doesn’t mean anything!”
“It means cutting about a hundred billion a year from public services,” (source)
*may involve slight stereotyping.
Fallacy number 4:
“Return to growth”
Just thought I’d throw this in the mix. As we sit here on a finite planet, with finite resources, reaching peak oil in the next few years (some think already), gas a few after, and running out of all the nice things like copper and columbium-tantalite (found in every mobile phone) which run our ever-growing economies, maybe it’s time to sit down and compare net growth with net happiness. To consider how ‘more equal societies almost always do better’, and maybe how investing in a green economy will mean more than just jobs, and research industries, but energy security. And perhaps try and conduct our society with a bit of foresight, and a bit of bravery.
Because this is our future.
And what happens, if they get away with it? Well, if you’re like me, you’ll probably scrape through, poorer, harder worked, not as healthy. But our children, our environment, our elderly relatives, the millions of single parent families, disabled people, unemployed, those who work in the public sector, our research industries, the arts and film industry, and standard of living will be irrecoverably harmed.
Our economy will collapse, like the proverbial flan in a cupboard. Mass unemployment, a welfare state that can look after no one adequately, overworked, underpaid public sector workers, people homeless (Labour decreased homelessness by 73% since 2003), no adequate council home provision, families struggling to eat, and the kind of social unrest which drove post-crash 1930s Germany into the arms of the decisive, divisive leadership offered by the extreme right.
I don’t want to be a part of that society.
The Tories, aided by the centre right Lib Dems, are going to tear the heart out of our country. Not because they are fundamentally bad people, many of them aren’t, but because they are blinded by privilege.
By no means will I argue that all spending under Labour was A Good Thing. ID cards, surveillance culture, the big bad terrorist bogeyman, a focus on targets over value, all of this was bad spending. But for the most part, things improved, because when they spent (which they did at levels on a par with most previous governments), they at least understood Key Stage Two economics.
Help me. Share http://thecutswontwork.co.uk wherever you can, and uncover the reality of the Tory economic policy. Don’t let them get away with it.
When we spend money on public services we’re not throwing money away – we’re investing in people so those people can play a role in making our society function.
Without education, people can’t do skilled jobs. Without healthcare, people get sick and become unable to work. It’s way more expensive to put kids and drug addicts in jail than to run youth centres and treatment programmes. […]
Right now, the most highly educated generation in Britain’s history is ending up in the dole queue because there are no jobs – and meanwhile, the environment is falling apart, and it’s only a matter of time before another financial crisis wallops us.[…] by investing in a Green New Deal we can tackle all three problems: diversifying our economy away from the financial services, getting young people into work, and moving towards a low carbon economy.
We can’t rely on the private sector – investment needs to start now, it needs to continue long term, and what we really can’t afford is another £1.4 trillion to bail them out if they mess it up. (http://thecutswontwork.co.uk)