Austerity and economic failure to continue

Follow your dreams (cancelled) by BanksyThe Tory election campaign is based on the claimed success of the government’s economic policy, as the hype around the latest budget confirms. In reality the Tories’ economic record has been unprecedentedly poor. Their economic policy is not primarily aimed at increasing growth or prosperity but rather at effecting a fundamental change in the economy which entails a very large transfer of incomes from workers and the poor to big business and the rich. This project is very far from complete and is set to continue. Continue reading

If you are going to tell porkies, tell big ones

porkie piesIf you are going to tell porkies, tell big ones. That seemed to be the Chancellor’s strategy in yesterday’s budget.

It was as if the past five years didn’t happen. The worst fall in real earnings in recorded history a total fall of 7.9% and even this is on the basis of the lower CPI index. No other real earnings decline comes close. The IFS says his tax and benefit changes since 2010, including the big VAT rise, have cost families on average £1,127 a year. Nearer £2000 if you are a public service worker suffering from the UK and Scottish government pay policy. Continue reading

Osborne’s claim of a let-up in austerity in next 5 years is a lie

Osborne party politicalGeorge Osborne didn’t deliver a budget yesterday. He delivered a party political broadcast on behalf of the Tory party in which analysis of the macroeconomic state of the economy, which is the real purpose of budget statements, was almost totally absent. Osborne’s speech yesterday had two aims. One was to give the impression that the worst of austerity was now over and the sunny uplands beckoned if you vote Tory at the election. The second was to shoot as many Labour foxes, i.e. Labour’s successful attack lines, as he could squeeze into an hour on his feet in the Commons. Careful analysis of the figures after the speech was over showed the magnitude of his failure on both counts. Continue reading

George Osborne’s core vote budget

Osborne's gladstone budgetboxI don’t know where this idea originates from but apparently, at least in Conservative Party circles, George Osborne is considered something of a political genius. Then again, among his people, Michael Gove is thought of as an “intellectual”. So we’re talking a very low bar here. Yet wanting to see the best in everyone, I’ve patiently tracked Osborne’s performance over six budgets, five autumn statements in the middle of winter, and seen too many interviews with Gormless Gidders. Each time I look for that spark. I’ve even borrowed the Large Hadron Collider to scrutinise Osborne for particle-sized flashes of brilliance. Nothing has shown on the scanners. How big does an atom smasher have to be or, in this case, how long should scrutiny carry on before you affirm the null hypothesis? Continue reading

Osborne’s budget giveaway for pensioners: never have so many lambs been so ripe for fleecing

848429_sWe are now being presented with yet another almost unbelievable example of how ruthless the Tories are prepared to be in their own interest at the expense of the gullible and vulnerable. Already last year Osborne ruled that 320,000 savers a year with ‘defined contribution’ pensions would no longer have to buy an annuity – they could take the cash in their pension pot and run with it wherever they liked, whether buying a car, taking a world cruise, tapping into the buy-to-let market, or whatever feelgood bonanza took their fancy, and whatever the long-term consequences of running out of money. All for Osborne to cash in on the pensioners’ vote.

Now he’s proposing to go much further in today’s budget giveaway. He’s now intending that any of the existing 6 million pensioners who missed out on last year’s offer because they were already locked into annuity contracts should now have the opportunity to escape these agreements. The rush for the exit has already started, even though taking out and spending capital reserved for lifetime income could well disqualify such a person from free social care later. Continue reading