Nearly five years into the ‘Osborne austerity’ and we are faced with the unedifying spectacle of the two major political parties competing to see who can deliver the best austerity. “Vote for us, we can deliver better misery, more bankruptcies and greater inequality”. Are we really going to buy this nonsense? Clearly the Tories believe we will, and Labour don’t seem to have, or dare to have, any better ideas.
For five years now we have been fed the line that austerity is the only way to deal with the deficit. There is no alternative if the deficit is to be reduced. This has been a cruel, but deliberate deception.
Fed half truths and blinded by a fog of political verbiage, we have been duped into believing that austerity is the only answer. It isn’t. There are alternatives, alternatives that would not have put thousands of businesses out of business, driven hundreds to suicide, destroyed the welfare state, condemned millions to a life of penury and allowed the wealthy few to accumulate even greater wealth. But there was never any mention of alternatives. No, austerity was an opportunity that no true blue Tory could pass by. Milton Friedman and his Chicago free market gangsters would have been proud of the boy Osborne. He grasped the opportunity that crisis offered and the trauma of shock to drive through his selfish, destructive, dishonest agenda – and we swallowed his medicine with hardly a peep.
What is so appalling about the austerity programme is that a. It isn’t necessary, there are better alternatives and b. that Osborne and his party cohorts are prepared to see through an austerity programme that does deliberate harm to the poorer members of society to satisfy a twisted party ideology.
Osborne’s cry that “we’re all in this together” is very much part of his cruel deception, for in together we are not! For the very wealthy and most of the middle class, the real pain of austerity has been skilfully manoeuvred passed them. The tribal Tory constituency must remain inviolate. And yet it is in the hidden advantages allowed to this constituency, and beyond the knowledge of ‘ordinary’ folk, that the alternatives to austerity exist.
So what are some of the alternatives to austerity? Let’s take tax reliefs, there are nearly 1300 of them. The total annual cost to the Treasury is estimated to be nearly £100 billion. £20 billion of this is pension contribution tax relief, a very middle class perk. There must be at least £50billion to be saved from tax reliefs. Tax. Every year HMRC fail to collect £35 billion in tax revenues, an enormous sum. Reason? An over complicated tax system that is crying out for reform, and a Chancellor who deliberately slashes HMRC funding resulting in fewer tax inspectors. And what of a specific tax to deal with the debt problem? The Germans introduced a ‘solidarity tax’ to pay for reunification. This is a very fair tax because it is based on taxed income so those who pay more tax contribute most. So far it has raised over £120 billion. Surely a specific tax to raise revenue to deal with the debt crisis would have been a far more sensible thing to do than to impose a cruel austerity on those who are innocent of the crimes that caused the financial crisis? And to introduce an austerity that crippled confidence and slashed much needed tax revenues has got to be one of the stupidest reactions to the crisis. But then there is Osborne’s party political agenda, that is clearly more of an imperative than the common good of the British people.
There are alternatives to austerity, there always have been, but this government has chosen to ignore them and impose a cruel, but deliberate deception. They must pay the price in 2015.