The British people have been deceived about the need for ‘austerity’ cuts to public services and benefits. The local elections on May 4 are a chance to express our anger at this huge lie. Make sure you use your vote to show your anger at this cynical manipulation by the Tory liars.

Simon Wren-Lewis re-states a valuable point in his latest Mainly Macro post – that the UK has suffered under Conservative austerity policies, not because there was a need for spending cuts but because the Tories had an excuse to impose them.

He writes:

I tend to agree with Kevin Drum in this: he says that basically politicians did what they wanted to do, and economists were simply used to provide some kind of cover for politicians’ decisions. This is the argument I make in my General Theory of Austerity paper.

The clearest case of this is probably the UK. George Osborne opposed the fiscal stimulus in 2009, and what changed is that he became Chancellor in 2010. So in this case there was no change of view, just a change in who was in power.

Professor Wren-Lewis calls the policy deficit deceit: reducing the state using fears about the deficit as a pretext.

You could perhaps argue that the Treasury and the Governor of the Bank [of England] encouraged George Osborne, but I think he would have done it anyway: he was never one to let economics get in the way of achieving a political goal.

So there you have it.

There was no economic necessity for the austerity cuts that have been imposed on the United Kingdom – no need for the cuts to benefits, most particularly for women and those with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

No need for wage restraints that have kept pay rises below the rate of inflation and put working families into poverty while employers paid themselves huge salary increases.

No need for the Bedroom Tax.

No need for cuts in Westminster government grants to devolved regional parliaments/assemblies, or to local councils.

No need for the unreasonable changes to the work capability assessment that have caused many thousands of unnecessary deaths.

No need for the provocation of hate crime against the sick, the disabled, and people from foreign countries who live and work in the UK (who, we already know, weren’t stealing our services away from us, as the Tories claimed – it was the government that was rationing those services).

It was all just a flimsy excuse to inflict harm on the most vulnerable people in the country.

And far too many of us fell for it.

How could we be so stupid?

Was it because we were conditioned to believe the lies that have been pumped out to us on a regular basis by government spokespeople who have been turned into Tory propagandists – supported by a compliant right-wing media machine?

Why did we stop thinking for ourselves and start letting these creeps do our thinking for us?

And isn’t it time we turned the tables on them?

There are local elections on May 4. You have an opportunity to make a change, at the ballot box. Don’t miss it.

Source: Henry Farrell on economists and austerity

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