The worst thing about Osborne’s budget isn’t the cuts – it’s their popularity

Cameron and OsborneOnce George Osborne delivered the first Tory budget since 1996 the British Left predictably took to the internet – and in some cases to the streets – to protest against what was a vicious attack on living standards, the unemployed and disabled people by a government less than a quarter of people voted for and made up of Eton-educated millionaires. But while this perspective might dominate the Facebook timelines and the Twitter feeds of left-wingers like myself, the more sober view (I daren’t call it ‘analysis’) from Labour’s Blairites and the crowing Tories is for once worth heeding to – like it or not, this budget was popular.

YouGov’s initial polling indicated majority support for almost every significant policy Osborne announced. That horrible two-child limit to tax credits that one Labour MP referred to as from the days of Mao and King Herod? 67% supported it. Only 20% didn’t. The draconian and totally arbitrary reduction in the benefits cap that will drive thousands of people into poverty and homelessness? The same results – 67% in favour, 20% against. What of the cruel robbery of housing benefits from the under-21s? Exactly half of people supported you losing your right to living independently.  Continue reading

Blairite triangulation & personality politics paved way for Osborne’s nasty party

Liz Kendall for Tory Leader (spoof site)Jeremy Corbyn really doesn’t do personal attacks and nor does his campaign. You can therefore rest assured that the spoof Facebook page promoting Liz Kendall for Conservative Leader has nothing to do with team Corbyn. The Telegraph yesterday claimed it “opens up fresh Labour divisions” based on criticisms of the spoof by Kendall supporting John Woodcock MP. But negative campaigning  has also emerged from the Kendall camp itself. Most notable was the attack on both Burnham and Cooper as “continuity Miliband” candidates that came from the very same John Woodcock (as noted by Luke Akehurst):

If those who seek to take his place think the route to victory in the leadership contest is continuity Miliband with a different accent or gender (our emphasis – Ed), or with a higher level of emotional connection, they will consign Labour to another defeat at the next general election.

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It isn’t a ‘lower tax, higher wage’ economy as Osborne boasts, it’s actually a higher tax, lower wage economy

Osborne's gladstone budgetboxOne has to give it to Osborne, he’s extremely good at branding whatever he doesn’t like with a clever, pejorative – but false – jingle. ‘The merry-go-round on welfare’, ‘strivers versus shirkers’, ‘Labour left behind this economic mess’ , and ‘austerity’s painful decisions are the only way to cut the deficit’ immediately spring to mind. But they’re all wrong, or at least require teasing out to show they’re more propaganda than reality. But with the unerring aid of a prostrate Tory press and the feeble docility of a pliant Opposition, he manages to command a narrative resonant with the public consciousness which even a cursory scrutiny would show to be a raging falsehood. Continue reading

Osborne’s decadent budget

'Gideon' OsborneLet’s scotch a myth that’s been multiplying like typhus in news about the so-called emergency budget. George Osborne is no “political genius”. Take a look at the measures he’s outlined. All of them are imprinted with his partisan political economics designed as traps for the Labour Party.

  • The cut on corporation tax – any attempt to reverse it is a tax on business.
  • Increasing the inheritance tax threshold – a reversal appropriates a chunk of a lifetime’s hard work.
  • Opposing the extension of the MOT is punishing car ownership.
  • Wanting to see public sector salaries rise above 1% is “profligacy”.
  • Voting against freezes to tax credits would be not getting serious with the social security bill.
  • Fighting the conversion of grants to loans falls into the trap of allowing the successful to be subsidised by the not-so-successful.
  • Getting hot and bothered about forcing market rents on “high earners” in social housing is cut from the same cloth. And taking the field against the ill-named living wage for the over 25s is obvious political suicide, even though the recipients on the whole are going to be left worse off when the subsidy of their low pay is cut back. Continue reading

What can we expect from renewed austerity?

AusterityThe new Tory government will renew its austerity offensive shortly with the publication of an ‘emergency Budget’ on July 8. It is simple to demonstrate that the previous austerity programme caused the economy to grind to a halt (and with it the improvement in government finances).

Supporters of austerity like to claim that austerity led eventually to recovery. But this is logically impossible. A force applied from one direction, the downward pressure on the economy, cannot sequentially have the effect of lifting the economy. Most children learn these cause and effect relationships through play at the ages of 2 to 4, with marbles, wheels and water. Continue reading