Those readers who are determined to paint Vox Political as a Labour Party apologist site may be surprised to see this blog publicising an article by alittleecon which lambasts the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer for his apparent capitulation to the Coalition’s economic viewpoints.
In it, Alex Little compares words spoken by Ed Balls at the Labour Party conference last week with those he spoke in what has become known as his ‘Bloomberg’ speech of 2010 – unfavourably.
You can visit the site to compare the speech excerpts yourself, but Mr Little’s conclusions bear quoting here. He writes: “It seems he thinks he has lost the argument and far from standing outside the consensus, he’s now lining up alongside George Osborne to see who can outbid each other on the consensus (but bogus) concept of fiscal responsibility.
“He has totally given up on trying to win the argument and is now quite prepared to pretend the earth is flat, believing that enough voters actually do think the earth is flat to benefit him politically. It’s an incredibly cowardly and cynical point of view, and one that takes us all for fools. Whether he is right about the electorate being fools remains to be seen.”
The consensus concept of fiscal responsibility is that the government needs to “balance the books”, as Mr Balls described it last week – using policies of austerity, which means cuts in government spending and services.
We know from the last four and a half years that this policy is absolute and utter rubbish; it is a tool of neoliberals, intended to create a sense of emergency in the general public in order to make people more likely to accept the strictures being placed on them – for a lie.
Fiscal austerity can never “balance the books”.
Fiscal austerity removes money from the national economy, meaning the government takes less tax every year. This means it becomes increasingly difficult to fund public services – the government must either borrow more money or reduce its spending still further by cutting services or selling them off to the private sector.
The process has been accelerated in some countries (including the UK) by the practice of cutting income taxes for the obscenely rich and corporation tax charged to large and international firms, diminishing the tax take even further.
Fiscal austerity is not about being able to “balance the books” – it is about grossly enriching those who already have too much via the further impoverishment of those who are already poor.
We have Michael Meacher’s letter in The Guardian, republished here, to remind us of the failure of fiscal austerity to do what George Osborne said it would do. There is no reason to believe that Ed Balls will be more successful in pursuing what we all now know to be a pointless cover story for what the police describe as a distraction theft.
It is the latest development in a crime that has been inflicted on the British people since the late 1970s, when Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberals devised their plan to reverse the progress of the years since Labour’s historic 1945 election victory. They believed, according to The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain that undermining the working classes “would require, not simply the disengagement of the state from industry, but the substantial destruction of Britain’s remaining industrial base. The full employment that had been sustained across most of the post-war period was seen, together with the broader security offered by the welfare state, to be at the root of an unprecedented self-confidence among working-class communities. Very large-scale unemployment would end the ‘cycle of rising expectations,’ [and] permit the historic defeat of the trade union movement.”
What we need, then, is a reversal of the neoliberalism that has allowed David Cameron to sell the UK off to anybody with a penny in their pocket. Perhaps economists reading this will correct the following if it goes astray, but it seems that, more than anything, we need:
Expansionary budgets that will put money in the hands of people who actually spend it, building up the national economy towards full employment and boosting the tax take.
Tight re-regulation of our industries – particularly finance – to ensure that the money goes where it is needed, and not into the pockets of tax cheats.
Investment in our manufacturing, service and new industries, to repair the damage caused by right-wing neoliberals – including the possible renationalisation of those that have been most seriously mismanaged.
That will do as a start. If Ed Balls can’t commit to any of it, then he needs to make way for somebody who can. This is a job for someone willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty – not some namby-pamby neoliberal apologist.
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