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It must be panto season because the Conservative Party’s very own Ugly Sisters have just wheeled themselves out to deliver another helping of hilarious family fun:
Even more cuts are needed, worth billions of pounds, and there are still huge underlying problems with the economy, said Sister George, even though he knows that cuts are not the answer.
The small upturn he managed to engineer last year came from a natural upswing in the economy and the artificial housing boom that he created by Keynesian means and was nothing to do with austerity cuts. As for the economy, he’s had three and a half years to fix it! It seems clear that if there is an underlying problem, its surname is Osborne.
We may also extract some bitter humour from his words. Only days ago, his cabinet colleague Michael Gove attacked TV comedy Blackadder Goes Forth for claiming that our leaders in World War One never learnt from their mistakes but merely repeated them, over and over again, at huge cost in the lives of the working-class people who had to suffer the consequences of their decisions.
Now here’s George, telling us that he’s following up his failed austerity cuts with… more austerity cuts.
So we will see another £25 billion cut out of the British economy after the next election if the Conservatives win, including £12 billion from social security, he told us, providing everybody with an income lower than £50,000 per year with a perfect reason not to vote Conservative in 2015.
Come to think of it, why do working-class people ever vote for clowns like him?
He’ll cut departmental budgets by £13 billion, starving already wafer-thin public services and paving the way for their takeover by the private sector – on the long-disproved premise that profit-making businesses can do a better job for less money.
He’ll cut housing benefit for young people (under-25) who are just trying to get started in work – but he won’t force under-paying firms to boost their wages in order to offer a decent standard of living!
He also said – no, wait, that’s all he had to offer.
George justified his plan by trotting out the now-classic justification line of this Parliament – that the deficit was down by a third since 2010. He has been saying this for the last two years, and in all that time, the deficit hasn’t dropped at all! Last year the difference was a fraction of one per cent.
This is because the drop was achieved by cutting capital projects and there aren’t any more to cut. Taking billions out of the economy with benefit cuts and investment cuts actually harms the economy – there is less money moving through the system and therefore less opportunity for the fiscal multiplier effect to take place, for profit to be made and for taxes to be taken.
George has always had a bit of a blind spot there.
Sister George said he supported universal benefits for the elderly as they will only save around £10 million – but Sister David has suggested cutting free TV licences, bus passes and winter fuel allowances. Pensions are also taking a battering – never mind what they’re saying about the triple-lock.
David also said he wanted to cut taxes for the poor before the wealthy – but planned to do so by raising the threshold at which they begin to pay tax. This means they will not pay National Insurance either, and will have to find a higher-paying job before they can expect to contribute to their own pension fund. This means some people may never qualify for the state pension.
So they’re starting 2014 by promising austerity cuts that will harm the economy, cuts in benefits for the elderly that will save a comparatively negligible amount but will cause misery, and cuts in government budgets that will open the way to further privatisation and corporatisation of the state.
Those are the real hard truths – but you won’t hear these two characters admitting them.
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