Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Austerity, injustice and the forces of callous Conservatism

did not get where I am today predicting the future of the Labour party’s electoral prospects; nor, for that matter, by forecasting the outcome of a referendum called by a prime minister prepared to gamble with the future of the United Kingdom in order to keep his party in office.

For, although it may now be conventional wisdom that Ed Miliband was never going to win an election in a thousand years, it did not seem such an odds-on bet to David Cameron at the time, when, frightened by the threat to his position by Ukip and his Conservative colleagues, he committed himself to the coming referendum.

But what seems to be generally agreed is that Cameron’s election gamble paid off handsomely, with no shortage of assistance from the Scots, while the Labour party has gone outside and may be some time – even, according to the pessimists, some decades.

It is also glaringly obvious that the travails of the Labour party are taking up an unconscionable amount of media space, and therefore diverting attention from the truly appalling economic and social record of this government.

But first let us at least attempt to put a spanner in the works of those critics who are trying to damn almost everything the Blair/Brown governments did on the domestic policy front. (I wrote enough about my views about Tony Blair and his misadventures in Iraq at the time.)

The background was that, although my old friend Ken Clarke was a successful chancellor who presided over a sustained economic recovery between 1993 and 1997 after the travails and humiliation of Black Wednesday, his success with the budgetary accounts was at the expense of Britain’s public services.

This running down did not begin under the premiership of John Major and Clarke’s chancellorship; the bad work was done by Margaret Thatcher. But it continued under the Major premiership, which was unfortunate, because I, for one, have never doubted Major’s good intentions.

Thus, when the Blair/Brown duumvirate came to power in 1997, there was a lot of work to be done to improve the National Health Service and the state of our schools and transport infrastructure.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Unfortunately there was a slight delay because, out of a desire to gain economic credibility with the financial markets and other sceptics, Brown announced a two-year freeze on public spending before he finally got going.

After that, much was achieved and – partly because of the impact of that freeze on average spending and borrowing levels in the period 1999 to 2007, before the onset of the financial crisis – the statistics for borrowing and debt as a percentage of gross domestic product under Brown compared favourably with those of the Thatcher/Major years.

This, of course, did not stop Messrs Cameron and Osborne from blaming the subsequent increase in public sector borrowing and debt on Labour, when it was entirely attributable to the consequences of the banking crisis.

Then came Austerity. Now, I keep meeting people who claim that the talk of austerity is exaggerated. And, certainly, it is possible to wander around Covent Garden and the West End of London and wonder what commentators such as myself are going on about.

But the evidence from the nation at large is loud and clear. A growing number of our fellow citizens are becoming homeless or poverty-stricken – or both – as a direct result of this government’s obsession with cutting spending on social services.

In a addition to trying to improve the public services, Brown, when he was chancellor, devoted much Treasury time to trying to alleviate the plight of the least well-off. Some called it “redistribution of income”, but often it was a case of simply trying to stop things from getting worse.

However, under the present chancellor there has been a determined, and mean-minded, attempt to destroy the “Brown settlement” – not least with the policy of cutting tax credits. When the injustice of this policy dawned on those who are not exactly poor but were also threatened, they had no hesitation in complaining to their MPs, and Osborne had to back down in his recent budget. But the suspicion is that the attack on tax credits has merely been kicked into touch.

Now, it must never be forgotten that whole point of the chancellor’s obsession with achieving a surplus on our current and capital accounts is so that he can cut taxes.

But, given that the Labour party has gone outside, we are dependent for a shift to a more humane strategy on a change of heart from within his own party. It is about time that prime minister Cameron was true to the beliefs of his professed Conservative party heroes Harold Macmillan and Ian Gilmour and rediscovered “compassionate Conservatism”.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.


You May Also Like


Professing to be the lead in Thai relationship with over 1.5 million enrolled single people, Cupid Media’s ThaiCupid brings the one in every of...


An exclusive article form Orestis Karipis In the 1930’s and 1940’s acid was the weapon of deceived husbands and wives in the Western world...


Read more about switzerland women here. Swiss ladies and men are not reknown for being the most chatty, outgoing or spontaneous when meeting strangers...


In food, if there is one thing you can say without fear of contradiction, it is this: Britain loves burgers. The UK market is...

Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved