It’s not as outlandish a proposition as one might initially think, and by that I don’t mean that I’m accusing George Osborne of having any far right wing tendencies, just right wing tendencies. Because under the pretext of austerity, he’s pursuing the ideological agenda of the right, namely minimum state intervention, greater private sector involvement in what remains of what’s left, cutting taxes to enrich a few but to impoverish many.
Welfare cuts aren’t well, fair, which proves that George Osborne really does put the con into Conservative
It was Goebbels – Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda – who said
“The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous. “ Humpty Dumpty said pretty much the same thing, that words can be given whatever meaning one chooses. If people then misunderstand you because they didn’t bother to establish what you meant, then the fault lies with them. Lie of course, being the operative word. Which brings us neatly back to Goebbels.
Because George Osborne’s use of the word recovery does not equate with any traditional definition of the word, it might do in the world in which he lives, but given he’s on a salary of £134,000, owns a 15% stake in his family wallpaper firm and stands to inherit a baronetcy, his world is far, far removed from mine. And the vast majority of people the budget will adversely affect. Recovery means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ”A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” George Osborne must have his own meaning – one which he hasn’t felt the need to share with anyone else if he deludes himself that what he advocates is “A return to a normal state. “ If he does, he puts me in mind of the guy who goes to collect his car from a garage after a repair, only to discover that it’s now 4ft long.
Back however from the genius of Chris Morris to the brass neck of George Osborne. In his budget on Tuesday he announced, with a face that is straighter than he is, that “Because we seek a truly national recovery, today I also ask our banking sector to contribute more. But as our banking sector becomes more profitable again, I believe they can make a bigger contribution to the repair of our public finances.” That’s a monumental understatement. It deftly avoids apportioning any of the blame on the banks, who were, let us not forget, all in favour of the light touch of regulation that helped create the conditions for the state we’re all in. And while we’re on the subject, wasn’t it the very same banks and other financial services who were steadfastly against any government intervention in financial industry until they found that actually, they were in favour of the government – the taxpayer – bailing them out of the mess that they had helped to create. As Caroline Lucas MP said, addressing the crowd on a recent anti austerity march.” It wasn’t the poor who caused the economic crisis. It wasn’t people on Jobseeker’s Allowance who brought down the banks. It wasn’t people with disabilities who wasted billions speculating on risky financial markets. So that’s why we’re here to say: stop punishing the poor.”
Once again proving that George Osborne puts the con into Conservative he went on “I am today raising the rate of the bank levy to 0.21 per cent. This will raise an additional £900 million a year.” Sounds almost impressive. Until that is one realises that the Royal Bank of Scotland – of which the taxpayer owns a 79% stake in – paid bonuses amounting to £588 million last year. And that’s just one bank! Just take a moment to reflect upon that, as one considers the other cuts to public services George Osborne announced, and then think of how craven the government is to the whole banking sector. Adam Curtis made an excellent point in his short film for Charlie Brooker’s Wipe 2014, when he pointed out that hardly anybody had been charged, let alone jailed for financial scandals. Despite a steady stream of scandals, hardly anyone has had to chew a prison pillow. You can take your pick of banking scandals – there’s no shortage of them – from the Libor rate fixing scandal, the PPI mis-selling scandal, various money laundering scandals, interest rate hedging scandal, the foreign exchange rate scandal….
My point is that if any of the banks’ fined – essentially a slap on the wrist given their vast profits – were benefit claimants then they’d have faced a very different fate. Yes some high profile bank chief executives do make the press, but their humiliation is intense but short lived and they have a rather agreeable severance package and pension to console themselves with. Unlike the seemingly constant fly tipping of human nature that is the media’s obsession with benefit scroungers.
If the media was serious about exposing people sponging off the state, living it large, while the rest have to live it small, they could instead look at corporate welfare, which is estimated to cost £93 billion a year. Whereby the government decides to subsidise corporations and businesses, estimated because no one is sure. Are tax-credits a form of corporate welfare? Lets think shall we? Tax credits are only available to people who are in work and are a means by which the government tops up the wages employers pay. So in effect the taxpayer is subsidising employers who pay low wages, (and that’s only one of many examples of corporate welfare). For a more comprehensive and less contentious analysis of what it means in practice and the cost to the UK I’d urge you to have a read of Kevin Farnsworth’s – an academic who’s trawled through countless papers so I don’t have to – eye-opening article revealing the sheer scale of greed. http://www.renewal.org.uk/articles/the-british-corporate-welfare-state/
Speaking of greed – one that firmly imprints the boot-mark of the state upon the face of the taxpayer and pushes it right down into the mud – is there any more obscene contradiction of the ‘we all in this together’ nonsense than the fact that whilst elsewhere benefit claimants are facing swingeing cuts, one household is seeing its benefits increase? The Royal family prove that falling out of the right woman’s womb dramatically improve your life chances, because that’s all they’ve done.
My worry of exhausting your patience prevents me from mentioning the taxpayer owned remaining stake – the 79% which cost us over £45 billion – that Osborne plans to sell off, will generate a projected loss of £7.2 billion. Or that by sneakily changing the way benefits are calculated Osborne saves £40 billion a year. This country has enough money, it’s what George Osborne chooses to spend it on that’s important. So when he says the budget is a ‘contract for Britain’, is he meaning a contract full of hidden nasty surprises, rather like a ‘phone contract someone else has taken out on your behalf, that because they’re not paying for it, they’ve only skimmed it. Or the fact that the budget deficit has increased by 50% under George’s stewardship of the economy.
Which brings us neatly back to Goebbels:
“The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous. “