“A Chancellor who will be judged harshly by history”
It’s a serious one this week, I’m afraid, and it was Osborne wot made me do it…
Anyone that read ALAW #116 will have been left with the advice that “sometimes the first thing you have to do is to suspend belief and the second thing you do is to suspend disbelief”.
I had to do that just a couple of days before Christmas when listening to George Osborne on the radio. He had the brass-neck to deny that his blueprint for austerity after the Tories’ election victory in 2010 had any rôle to play in the UK’s current homelessness crisis. Instead, he blamed ‘bad policy’.
Er, that would be policy related to housing, benefits and council services then? Policies that he and his chums in the Conservative Party have imposed on the UK over the last eight years!
And what was Osborne’s great contribution to housing policy? Well, from the Independent newspaper’s analysis it was this: In the end, aggressive monetary loosening from the Bank of England came to the economy’s rescue, along with one the Chancellor’s very worst policies, a “Help To Buy” scheme that stimulated consumer confidence in 2013 but only at the terrible price of perpetuating the country’s housing disaster. (See this, from the Guardian, to understand why.)
Homelessness not enough? Then how about the prison crisis, a crisis led by “budget cuts, poor political decisions and frequent changes of political direction” according to a former Director-General of HM Prison Service. Or the crisis in special educational needs provision that is directly attributable to cuts in local government funding? Or the crisis in social care for vulnerable adults? Or the crisis in support for young people presenting with mental health issues? Or the wider NHS crisis with the lowest per capita number of doctors, nurses or beds in the western world?
Osborne’s political manoeuvre was to masquerade his ideological cuts to public services as austerity. “Money doesn’t grow on trees” was the ideologues’ battle cry! Except it did if you were a banker, with £435 billion ‘spent’ up to August 2016 on ‘aggressive monetary loosening’, so-called ‘quantitative easing’ (‘printing money’ in old parlance), to bail out the banks after their affair with the sort of casino capitalism engendered by Thatcher’s deregulation of the 1980s.
And it is Thatcher’s ideological experiment in neo-liberalism that has since been fostered by the likes of Osborne and his Bullingdon Club cronies.
“Trickle-down”, they said when “flood up” was what they meant and the great British public swallowed it hook, line and sinker; its 30 pieces of silver transformed during the 1980s into a few measly shares in British Gas or a short-lived and quickly spent windfall from building society de-mutualisations to be followed by a global financial collapse sponsored by sub-prime free-market think-tanks.
An austere political trope
Left the homeless with nary a hope,
So let no-one deny
That censure must lie
On the shoulders of Osborne the Dope!