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Osborne decimating the State will finally trigger the resistance

Osborne no cuts collage by CounterfireOsborne’s central objective, he would have you believe, is to cut the deficit. He has failed: the deficit he predicted would be £40bn this year turns out to be £100bn and, worse still, it is actually now rising because of the fall in the government’s income (tax receipts) brought about by his own policy of squeezing wages. His other key concern is holding down and reducing taxes. In this he’s succeeded: such reduction in the deficit as there has been is almost exclusively the result of cutting public expenditure and benefits, the only exception being the rise in VAT which hits the poor far harder than the rich. In Osborne’s parallel universe the State is the residual item: it has to make do with what the first two principles leave over. Indeed I would argue that the shrinkage of the State as a result of the first two strictures is not just an unfortunate side-effect, but the real latent objective of the whole exercise.

But the State isn’t just an imposition on the body politic for the levying of taxes. It’s an instrument for bringing into existence the vision of society that will inspire, enthuse and activate the members of that society. The proper way to conduct government is the reverse of the Osborne method. It should start with a trajectory of the vision to the desired income, including a strategic long-term programme of investment, and the merits of tax changes (including on whom they fall) against particular uses of public spending in pursuit of this objective would then have to be carefully weighed year after year.

It is truly remarkable, and alarming, that the consequences of Osborne’s latest mini-budget on the nature of the State, which can only be described as existential, were not even mentioned by him last Wednesday. Either that is the result of Olympian insouciance or a determination to foist on Britain a kind of society so extreme (1930s style) that it will never win electoral consent, therefore best to keep mum about it.

So what would it look like? The NHS, which all the experts believe is heading for a slow-motion car-crash, will collapse in its present form by 2020. Further reductions in schools expenditure will short-change prospects for this and future young generations. The welfare system will descend into the means-tested discretionary poor relief of the Victorian era. Access to justice via legal aid will all but disappear, leaving enhanced and broadly unaccountable power in the hands of employers, landlords and the moneyed classes. Trashing the environment will proceed apace, so long as it yields big profits (share oil and gas to the fore).

This is fundamentally what the next election should be about.


  1. David Ellis says:

    The Tory talk about the deficit is all about pretending they are acting in the interests of all the people. Hitchcock might have called it a MacGuffin. The reality is their concern has been solely about the consolidation via austerity of the position of the super rich. Much of their great wealth was tied up in the bankers’ Ponzi Scheme which collapsed in the UK owing the corporations and super rich some £6.7 trillion. Shoring up the banks so they could make good on their worthless bonds by cutting public services and printing money has resulted in the greatest redistribution of wealth from poor to rich since capitalism began and we are only at the beginning as huge swathes of the economy both private and public are liquidated and the deficit is hugely added to to pay out the mega rich though how much it has been added to has been disguised by the assault on public services and welfare. The Tories do not care about the deficit and never have. What they care about is their super rich paymasters.

  2. Rod says:

    “This is fundamentally what the next election should be about.”

    But it won’t be because fundamentally the Labour Party is on the same side as the Tories.

  3. Barry Ewart says:

    Good points Michael. David absolutely true. Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration Rod although Labour may just want to manage capitalism better whilst those on the left have more ambition for working people. I am a democratic socialist and want to restructure society, redistribute wealth and empower working peoplev plus work with our brothers and sisters around the World to do the same. But where are your ideas to help working humanity? As Rosa Luxemburg argued the best thing we can all bring to the table is critical thinking – you may both be right re your negative comments but where are your positives – time for some of the Left to stop “Eating bitterness” and liberate themselves by using their imagination and offering ideas about how the World could be. Yours in solidarity!

      1. Barry Ewart says:

        David, I had a look and whilst I would not disagree with any of this philosophically I felt it could have been written in the late 19th Century. Could you seriously take these ideas in this language on the high street, the estate, to a workplace? It reminds me of some in the Labour Representation Committee resolutionary socialists – I am on the left in Labour and am a member of LRC – I come from a working class background and experienced poverty but through higher education was liberated from this but you never forget. If you look at all my posts for example on democratic public ownership – I think you will see the ideas are straight forward, in simple language and could be understood and discussed widely. But perhaps we may also need to be facilitators of topics to be discussed and draw ideas from working people from below. As a democratic socialist I don’t want to score points or self actualise (and I am not referring to you- we are both on the same side) but with our brothers and sisters in the UK and around the World I actually want us to win! Yours in solidarity!

  4. Barry Ewart says:

    Someone once said there is an inch of difference between the Tories and Labour but that inch is important. The priority is to get this vile coalition out but as I say we really need a mile of difference
    To liberate democratically and peacefully working humanity. All ideas greatly welcomed!

    1. Robert says:

      We are hearing labour is now going to the center where Blair was. and they are going to cut the state, and the public sector, which is interesting I wonder who will suffer when you do that the poor. he says he has to do more to get wages up by what paying people eight quid Min wage in five years time.

      I suspect labour will lose Scotland to the SNP because it looks like Murphy will win that and that will be another Progress Blair -rite taking over in a country dying out for a real left of center party.

      This is looking more and more Kinnock politically with labour being dumped by it’s working class trying to get Tory voters to back it up and losing and then will come the battle between Progress Blair and the labour left.

      1. Barry Ewart says:

        Yes Robert but it’s clear Progress et al clearly haven’t read and haven’t a clue. It’s the democratic left who are now slaughtering the centre grounders and capitalists with ideas and possible solutions. Keep hope alive!

        1. Robert says:

          My hope ended the day ATOS knocked on my door.

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