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Posts Tagged ‘budget

Britain ideological obsession to a morally bankrupt economic policy

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The 2008 financial crisis

The emergency budget this coming week is expected to bring in significant tax rises; but how serious are Britain’s economic problems and is cutting now the right way to go about tackling them?

It is quite amazing how quickly the discourse has changed, not just in Britain but across the European Union as a whole. From ‘we need to spend, we need a fiscal stimulus to keep our economies out of recession (or even depression)’, to the assertions from Nick Clegg that we must cut back on everything we’ve done in the last two years or ‘face ruin’ and run the risk of strangling any growth that has been gained.

In fact so deep are the planned cuts across Europe that President Obama last week wrote to all nations warning them to watch just how far they go with their austerity plans. However certain countries, and Britain is definately one of them, appear ideologically committed to cuts in order to maintain an economic policy that proved itself bankrupt during the financial crisis of 2008.

Yes the deficit must be addressed. We in Britain in particular have the worst budget deficit in all of Europe, but why stifle the growth we so desperately need, why enforce so much social pain and so much economic suffering to the vast majority of the public?

The argument about cuts and increases in tax will continue to be fought about for a long while yet and be done by much more able people than myself. However, underneath this front-facing battle for agreement I consistently find that there are some very murky realities that continue to be overlooked.

The first is that for all the banging on about cuts being made by the politicians they personally appear to be largely immune from any wielding of the axe. Secondly, the big areas aren’t being discussed. More money is scheduled to be spent on defence and there has been no public scrutiny of the costs of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirdly, the role that the Liberal Democrats are playing in all this shows just how easily the goalposts can be adjusted when personal and party political ambitions for power come into play.

Independent columnist Yasmn Alibah-Brown described this coalition as ‘like a big-blue whale and a little goldfish’. True to life, the goldfish is keeping as quiet as goldfish do and it seems somewhat wrong that any party can so clearly go against many of there manifesto promises to the country. The European-wide commitment to austerity plans demonstrates the deafness of the political classes to the reality of what is happening on the streets across the continent.

Unsurprisingly then, it will once again be left to the ‘small people’ to take the brunt of a problem caused by the so-called ‘big people’ in our society.

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Written by Robert Dale

June 21, 2010 at 7:42 am

Article – the strikes are significant, but they won’t determine the election

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Here’s an article I wrote for Catch21 – the UK’s first internet television channel based at Westminster – run by young people, for young people

It’s looking pretty certain that the general election is indeed going to be held on May 6th. So the budget Alistair Darling ‘unveils’ this today is really a bit of a lame duck – despite claims that it won’t contain any ‘giveaways’, he can say pretty much whatever he likes as there’s very little chance he’s going to be walking back into the Treasury come May 7th.

Be this as it may, the budget does still remain politically significant. Not least because of the current disputes over British Airways cabin crew, but more so because of the rail strikes that are looming large on the horizon -if there is one way you really you want to infuriate middle England it is to grind all the commuter trains to a halt. Yes the grounding of planes will annoy a few thousand people, but if the trains stop we will begin to see some real anger emerge from the hundreds of thousands who daily use Britain’s rail network.

The disputes therefore could not come at a worse time for the Labour government as they’ve exposed their dependency on the trade unions. Unite (who represent the BA cabin crew) have given £11million to the party over the last two years and funds 148 of its constituency offices.

Ironically though, it is precisely because of this closeness that Gordon Brown decided to speak out against Unite last week. Clearly Number 10 feels the union should be more sensitive to them just weeks before a general election.

But need the Labour government worry so much? Are these strikes going to re-awaken the fears of the 1970’s and sap momentum from their recent resurrection in the polls?

If the country was in good shape then maybe yes, but there are so many things that people are unhappy about, so many things not to vote in favour of Mr Brown for that, if anything, his offensive tactics will help the Labour cause rather than hinder it.

Consider the storm whipped up by the Conservatives following the revelations in Andrew Rawnsley’s book ‘The End of the Party’ that labelled the Prime Minister as a ‘bully.’ The ploy backfired and the public actually accepted his aggression and hard-line approach as the required method needed for the tough times.

Spared this time around from attacks by the Tories (who are quite happily sitting back on this one and allowing it to draw energy away from the Ashcroft debacle), Brown is hoping public sympathy will be thin and sparse for the BA staff – Labour will be keen to point out that these workers already get paid double that of those peers who work for Virgin Atlantic and other companies.

However, strike or no strike, the mere fact that the issue is back in the media spotlight helps foster this image that Britain simply isn’t functioning – the old cries from Thatcher’s 1979 campaign of ‘Labour isn’t working’ are reverberating again.

Written by Robert Dale

March 24, 2010 at 12:11 am