Ready to go on

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tuesday - all's well!

I'm delighted to announce that my younger brother is well and just needs to rest. That should be easy - not!! He's a Civil Servant and, like all of that breed, is bound to be feeling the pressure of the absurd Coalition Government cuts.

I know that's a bold statement but I will try to back it up. You see, personally, I believe that the cuts, as they have been presented to us, are motivated by politics rather than necessity. Admittedly I'm not an economist but would that make any difference? I have heard various economists talking on the radio over the last few months and none of them seem to agree on this subject.  Some say we should be cutting nearly all spending, reducing the tax burden and, whilst paying of the deficit, letting the wonders of private industry drag us out of the mire on the road to productivity, growth and fortune. Who's fortune, I say? And wasn't it private industry that got us in to this mess? Didn't the banking system, the core of all private finance, rely on the public's money to stop themselves from going bankrupt? Not because they didn't have enough money in their banks, but because they didn't trust their fellow bankers enough to lend any of it to each them? Did I miss something? I don't think so? We had plenty of public funds available then, didn't we, when bankers needed it. Why haven't we got it now that pensioners need it?

At the same time, I have heard economystifiers claiming that cutting public spending will starve the country and throttle any growth that may be about to happen. It seems to me that every time anyone says they wouldn't cut public spending (usually they only say they wouldn't cut it so quickly, but that's because they are scared to present such a radical argument) the interviewers on the BBC instantly jump down their throats and say, "Well, everyone agrees that we have to make cuts, so where would you make them?".

Firstly, I don't agree that we need to make cuts, in fact it could be argued that we should be spending more? In many ways we have been. The Bank of England has been 'quantatively easing' the country for ages. What's that if not spending money to get us out of the hole? It's worse. It's just printing money! Still, as I don't agree that we have to cut something then not everyone agrees and the interviewers are wrong. And I'm sure I have others who would support me?

As a percentage of GDP the deficit is nowhere near as high as it is in many other countries. It's not as high as it has been in this country on numerous occasions in our history. It just seems a lot because we have had such a strong economy that is was at an historically low point. In comparison with that it seems to be high.

Spending money, public money, isn't always just like burning it or throwing it away. I cite the arts, my field. For every pound spent on the arts, the arts industry produces three pounds at least in tax revenue. If  I offered you a 300% return on your investment you'd bite my hand off or not believe me, but that's what my industry delivers year after year. And yet we are, under this government, being slashed to the bone. How much money do you think it will cost us all in twenty years time in prison, policing and hospital costs to deal with the forgotten class of young people that we are producing. How will they ever feel 'involved' with our society, Big or not, if they feel they have deserted by everyone else? How much more is it going to cost us in the future when we have to police all those delinquent children/adults that had no help when they dropped out of schools? It seems to be school policy to exclude children regularly, which, in my town, means there is always a group of 15 year old lads in the town centre during a school day, looking for trouble. I live in Tunbridge Wells for goodness sake. If it's happening there, what's it like in Toxteth?

And all the other cuts are, as we can already see around us (and this is early days) going to leave a legacy that will cost us a fortune to repair or replace. The roads, underfunded schools, lack of social services, no new hospitals; on and on the list goes. Will private industry do that? Only if you believe we can return to Victorian philanthropy? Admittedly that built some beautiful buildings and some lovely parks but it still left children up chimneys.

We've seen this all before with Margaret Thatcher and her belief in free enterprise and it's miraculous ability to provide. It didn't. It did for her and her mates (Nigel Bloody Lawson writing in the Times this week telling us the cuts should be deeper! When did they ever impinge on his twating life - bastard!). They all live in sodding Chelsea and are only concerned that their bank shares having quadrupled in value over the last year as a result of our money being 'loaned' to them.

Cameron and his 'whipping boy from Eton' Chancellor were, and are, dyed in the wool Thatcherites. As far as they are concerned she wimped out. They have had to wait all this time for the opportunity to push her policies through to their natural conclusion. They have been planning it since they were at school. It is irrelevant that they are in a coalition apart from the fact that it gives them a chance to spread the blame. They have always been against public spending, government and local council interference and taxation. And this is the perfect opportunity for them to get away with it.

Under the shadow of the financial crisis they can implement policies that they have wanted to introduce for years. The economic situation, as described by them, gives them a way to do it as if they are doing us a favour rather than because they fundamentally believe in it. "I don't like it but I can't help it" they cry. Liars!! "And it's all Labour's fault". Bollocks. Wasn't it the banks who loaned money to anyone and then wouldn't loan money to each other, even though they actually had the funds available? They could have stopped the whole thing in it's tracks but they did what capitalists always do in the end; they let go of their drowning partners hand and clung to the raft alone. Gordon Brown moved so rapidly to prop up Northern Rock that he probably stopped the whole economy from going in to melt down. At the time I remember feeling that we should let the buggers fold. How wrong I was. I wonder if Cameron with his laissez fair attitude to business would have acted so quickly or so decisively? I doubt it? And then we're told that we really need to lower the tax burden on business. Soon they'll be claiming this has to apply to the rich, otherwise how are they going to fund the charitable giving needed by the Big Society? You think that's absurd? Check out the amount a company director can take in profits now before being taxed compared to what is was a year ago?

So how would I go about it, I hear you cry? Well, I'm still not sure that we actually need to do anything? I think we can bear the burden of this debt and still function perfectly well, whilst providing money for schools, hospitals, benefits, road and rail building and general investment in us a a nation. We don't have to be profligate. We can easily scrap Trident. That's due to cost us billions, isn't it? Or we could spend more? Why not? It's easy to raise funds. Introduce a transaction tax. A tiny tax on every financial transaction that happens in the money markets. They could cope with it easily and it would raise tens of billions every year.

If banks are so important to us and yet seem to be able to make such colossal profits then let's nationalise them. We already largely own several of them, though they won't let us call it that. If you don't want to go that far then tax them properly. You don't have to go mad, just tax them as we ordinary people are taxed. 25-40% of their income. In fact let's all pay that, shall we? Not just the people who don't have enough money to pay accountancy firms to organise their yearly tax 'avoidance', but everyone. Close the tax loopholes, make everyone pay the same percentage of their incomes in tax and let's see how many of the super-rich jump ship? It would need to be a hell of a lot of them before we found ourselves with less money as a country than we receive now, if all the ones who stay pay their full whack. Then we can let children go to university without burdening them with ridiculous debt, we can help children to become educated and give them hope. We can build better hospitals and fund them, improve our schools and give them back their playing fields so that we are healthier as a nation. We really can be a big society.

Do you think I've revealed my true political standpoint? Probably, but that is what I am. I may be wrong, but they're not right. At least, what they are doing is not.

Tomorrow, more jolly theatre japes, I promise x


  1. A Very interesting read, I agree with an awful lot of what you had to say, it makes a lot of sense, to me anyway.

    Hard to believe they still claim they're not ideological cuts. I was one of the hundreds of thousands peaceful marchers on saturday, I marched for my son's future, which, if something is not done, looks grim and I all I've ever hoped was for him to have AT LEAST the upbringing that my parents were able to provide me (and that was during Thatchers 80's), sad to say I might not be able to provide that for him.


  2. Just out of curiosity, Mike, do you get much support in Tunbridge Wells? I remember election night 1987 in Maidstone, where I was one of only 4 people in the entire pub who'd voted anything other than Tory - it was a depressing feeling and probably why I've felt so much more at home in Manchester!

    Just wondered if, this time around, the good burghers of the affluent south east are feeling the pinch?


  3. "We had plenty of public funds available then, didn't we, when bankers needed it. Why haven't we got it now that pensioners need it?

    Remember that the money lent to the Banks is half repaid, and the rest has to be repaid within 18 mnths (and will be); the money used to give the clearing banks capital will be recouped in the next few years, (probably at a profit), when the Government sells their stake in the market you dislike.

  4. Received this tweet today. Very interesting article but then I would say that wouldn't I?

    @fentonstevens Did you see Johann Hari's latest, pretty much echoing your Blog about the cuts - tinyurl.com/6kbs5ac