George Osborne has snared his party in its own austerity trap – The Guardian

The deficit has not been eliminated. Depressed living standards are barely rising. This is not ‘job done’, but a record of failure, writes William Keegan.

The austerity panic propelled the economy back into depression; and, far from using public spending as a countervailing force against the cutbacks in private sector investment, the coalition’s budget cuts served to aggravate the crisis.

This year’s Reith lecturer, Dr Atul Gawande, speaks of the twin problems of ignorance and ineptitude that can beset medical practice. This applies also to economic policy.

Osborne, on the verge of his last autumn statement before next May’s election, has ended up with the worst of both worlds: he is being widely criticised, indeed derided, for having failed lamentably to achieve his target of eliminating the budget deficit during the lifetime of this parliament. Yet the austerity that he introduced so dramatically, epitomised by the emphasis on premature deficit reduction, has brought us the slowest economic recovery on record, and deep dissatisfaction all round with the depressed state of living standards.

There are commentators who place their faith in the Bank of England’s growth forecasts, and the belief that average earnings will finally take off after a long period of falling and then stagnating. Yet, even if they do, the starting level is so low that Osborne is hardly going to be in a position to repeat that dreadful phrase “job done”.

And what does our imperturbable chancellor promise if the government is re-elected? More of the same: austerity for the poor and public services, and tax cuts for the better off. But austerity fatigue is setting in: even the man responsible for control of public spending, Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander, has made it plain that enough is enough, and the Conservative plans are “eye-wateringly unfair on the working poor, who will pay the highest price.”

The coalition has led this country into an austerity trap. No wonder the Conservatives are worried that UKIP may unseat them.

There’s much more good material in this article – much of it about Gordon Brown (don’t look so surprised). You are encouraged to visit it on The Guardian‘s website.

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5 thoughts on “George Osborne has snared his party in its own austerity trap – The Guardian

  1. Pension60

    UKIP’s basic income policy is only to the level of Jobseekers, that is below the legal level it should be under the EU social charter.

    Neither UKIP nor any main so-called big party offers
    women born from 1953 and men born from 1951
    any hope against the NIL STATE PENSION
    coming after 7 years of no state pension payout for a couple,
    with three quarters of the rest getting far less state pension
    that already is on the lowest level of all rich nations bar poor Mexico.

    Austerity has not happened.
    The cost of benefits admin is even berated by The Times now as having caused…
    ‘Entirely predictable and avoidable impoverishment’…

    The £25 billion overspend is on benefits admin to all the benefits changes, not on feeding the poor, that include 13 million in or out of work and 2.6 million pensioners far far below the breadline or only just on it.

    Labour’s Mr Balls has said Labour would just continue Tory spending cuts and be even harder on welfare reform than the Tories.

    As Labour cannot form a majority government in 2015, losing as it will nearly all 41 Scottish Labour MPs to the SNP in 2015, then the Tories still win in 2015. The Lib Dems would have vanished.

    The Greens’ unique new policy set, offers me and millions like me the one and only hope to fend off penniless starvation being caused by welfare reform, that is just adding not reducing national debt (a deficit is not a debt, we’ve had one for 300 years with no ill effect):

    – universal, automatic, Citizen Income, non-withdrawable
    to the level of basic tax allowance

    – Full State Pension to all citizens, irregardless of National Insurance contribution / credit history, instead of women born from 1953 and men born from 1951 being threatened with the flat rate penson that is not more but less or no food or fuel money for life in old age from 2016

    With disabled War Veterans already in receipt of military pensions / state pensions threatened to lose disability benefits, there is no age group not suffering tax, pension and welfare reforms to ever greater poverty.

    Current soldiers lost full military pension when made redundant only a matter of weeks before fully time served.

    Labour never brought back the 1975 law that guaranteed penson payout, that was revoked by the Tories in 1993, so the old passed away at a great age without the military pensions they paid for.

    The lack of that law made it possible to deny state pension payout at 60 to women from 2013, and to bring about the flat rate penson that ends the state pension for the poorest people, even after living all their lives in the UK.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Just to correct you on a few points:
      The overspend on welfare is not on administration; it includes spending on benefit claims that were made as a result of Coalition welfare policies. The government had not factored these into its calculations.
      Ed Balls has absolutely not said that he would “just continue” Tory spending cuts. This is a misinterpretation that – as a regular reader – you must have seen me correcting in the past so you must have known when you parroted it in this comment that you were lying. Please do not lie to your fellow readers.
      Labour has not said it would be harder on welfare reform than the Tories. Again, I have clarified the differences between what he said and the way Labour’s opponents have interpreted it so there is no excuse for you to lie about it. Labour’s stance is that it will be hard on welfare spending, by working very hard to ensure that fewer people have to claim it. This will be done by pushing up wages to ensure that working people don’t need to claim benefits, by working hard to increase the number of jobs available and by ensuring that everyone who can work, is able to. It will not be done by victimising the innocent in the way the current government has behaved and any such claim is another falsehood.
      Of course Labour can form a majority government in 2015. Nobody has suggested otherwise. Nobody knows for sure that the deceitful SNP – who have built up a campaign against Scottish Labour that is based on lies – will win any of Labour’s Scottish seats at all.
      In that context, your other assertions look extremely shaky. I’m not willing to take any of them at face value and I cannot recommend them to anybody else either.

      1. jaypot2012

        Scottish Labour was in deep trouble before the campaign for Independence started in Scotland. They did start losing voters after the campaign as they LIED to the people of Scotland.
        It was Scottish Labour who kept the lie about pensions being unsafe in an independent Scotland. Scottish Labour is full of Blairites and needs to come into the 21st Century, they have no leader, they just need disbanding and re-emerging as a party for Scotland and not for London.
        The SNP have not been deceitful as Scottish Labour where already falling apart due to the fact that people started talking and learning about politics.
        Scotland has millions of people who talk freely about politics and we also know that the supposed promises will never come and that we will have to take action sooner rather than later. We also know that it was Labour that was against some of the proposals for Devolvement and yet people still expect us to vote for them – I see absolutely no reason at all to vote for them as have many millions of Scots.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        The independent pensions authority had warned that pensions would be unsafe in an independent Scotland. Labour was performing a public service in pointing this out. And, just because the Coalition government stabbed Labour in the back by saying those pensions would be safe, that doesn’t make it true. I’d believe the National Association of Pension Funds over the Coalition government on this.
        Scottish Labour doesn’t need to be a party for Scotland – it needs to be a party for Scotland within the United Kingdom. Your comment about Blairites is acknowledged – they need to be rooted out, wherever they may be.
        The SNP has been deceitful as it has created a web of lies around Scottish Labour – and Labour in general – being in league with the Conservatives as part of an elite London-centric gang dedicated to the exploitation of everyone else, just because Labour was on the unionist side in the referendum campaign. Of course Labour was unionist – Labour believes the UK is stronger with Scotland than without it. That doesn’t mean Labour is the same as the Conservative Party; they only people who want you to believe that are the SNP, for obvious reasons.
        You say the Scottish people “know that the supposed promises will never come”. They must have had a bit of a surprise when the Smith Commission report came out, then. Oh, the SNP might complain about a few quibbling details, but it seems to me (at first glance) that the promises are being kept.

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