This afternoon a privately educated chancellor born into privilege proved just how out of touch he is with the reality of so-called “hardworking families” in Britain.
As the Tories once again stressed economic and fiscal responsibility, it is important to remember that this Government has borrowed £708bn in the last five years compared to Labour borrowing of £292bn over thirteen. To put that into perspective, if the Tories continue the way they are going they will have borrowed £1.8trn in the same period that Labour borrowed £292bn. The deficit targets have been missed, productivity continues to plummet, the only reason money continues to go around is because it is based on a reliance of credit. Meanwhile wages have stagnated as people are working harder and longer for less and less.
Not all hope should be lost, however. The Labour campaign against the Tory tax credits cuts, led by Jeremy Corbyn even before he was leader, won out in the Commons today. The Chancellor’s embarrassing climb down over his assault on working people shows that the Labour Party has started to firmly stand for working people once again.
I share Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s feelings when he said he would throw up if Osborne mentioned fixing the roof while the sun is shining (which the Chancellor duly did); while it is always shining on Tory mansions, for the rest of Britain, Osborne has welcomed in a five-year hurricane. McDonnell was right: the Tories told us that today the deficit would be gone, that borrowing would be under control - but rather than that pledge being met, we have been greeted with another five years of failure.
With no knowledge of the reality of life for British people, this Government can easily cut the state from roughly 45 per cent of GDP in 2010 to 35 per cent by 2020 without ever having to come into contact with the reality it creates: poverty, deprivation, depression and fear. Any good news or ‘white rabbit’ announcements made by the Chancellor should be taken with a pinch of salt. The apparent maverick of economic responsibility offered no sign of where the funding for such plans will come from.
David Cameron doesn’t understand what it is like to worry about emergency tax taken from your summer earnings as you head back to university in London to pay extortionate rent bolstered by estate agents’ fees that are levied on tenants, not landlords. Many families will be ripped apart by the announced public sector job losses and children will be plunged into poverty through changes to housing benefit.
As the Tories reduce the rate at which the state supports its people - through a 25 per cent cut to the Department of Health, a 22 per cent cut to the Department of Energy, a 37 per cent cut to the Department of Transport and so on - their ideological vision of a small, unsupportive state becomes a reality. Great news for Conservative voters with private healthcare schemes and a buy-to-let investment plan, but yet another hurdle for the normal people they are so out of touch with.
The Shadow Chancellor brought the Chancellor and the Tories back to reality where tax credit cuts were concerned. And now the British public desperately need a new deal on the economy. Austerity may pass the political popularity test, but it fails the real-life economic one.
With every Tory announcement comes more sorrow and pain at the expense of the poor and to the profit of the rich. Fighting poor policy works, so for the good of the nation we must never let Osborne wield his axe again.
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