Politics In Retrograde

Following IFS report on George Osborne’s so-called emergency budget.

When David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party on 6th December 2005 he famously declared that he stood for ‘change’ and ‘compassionate conservatism’.  The reality has, as the IFS reported today, proved to be far different.

Cameron is tediously fond of the word ‘change’; he used it frequently during his campaign for the Tory leadership and even more during the General Election 2010.  He still overuses the word now, even though he is Prime Minister.  Psychologists may suggest that his overuse of the word demonstrates a pathological need to prove something he knows is categorically untrue.  His government is pursuing very old, archetypically Tory policies; smaller government, cuts to public services, removing investment from state education, breaking up the NHS and the Welfare State.  There is nothing different about Cameron’s brand of conservatism and there is a distinct lack of compassion.  In fact it represents a moral vacuum.

What has changed – if indeed it can be called a change – is the scale and severity of this government’s attack on the poorest in society.  It is unparalleled in modern times; even Margaret Thatcher would have blanched at some of the policies this government is pursuing.  During the leadership debates Cameron tried to suggest that Gordon Brown was using scare-tactics to manipulate the electorate – this has become appallingly ironic.  His government is trying to frighten the public with gargantuan, meaningless deficit figures to con them into supporting cuts that are brutal and destructive. 

No one is denying that cuts have to be made, but the burden of these cuts should not be placed on those who are least able to cope with them.  Furthermore, the vast majority of British people were not responsible for the deficit – it was the banks, the fabulously wealthy (who avoid paying their taxes) and the financial sector; the very people this government is protecting and some of whom are Conservative Party donors.  The deficit could be settled more easily by tackling these guilty parties and until the government admits this it has little credibility.

To call this ‘compassionate conservatism’ is not only a lie; it is a joke and one in very bad taste.  David Cameron obviously believes that if you’re going to lie, do it in such an outrageous fashion that some people are bound to believe you.  This is actually ‘cynical conservatism’, George Osborne’s constant braying of “We’re all in this together!” is alarmingly reminiscent of the generals of the Great War ordering soldiers to charge into shell-fire from the safety of gourmet dinner-tables in plush hotels.  It is an insult to the public’s intelligence to make such a claim and drastically apparent that the rich-men of the Tory front-bench are not suffering one iota from the cuts, nor will they.  They will not be made unemployed, they will not lose their homes, their children will still be privately educated and they will still receive private healthcare.  So what sacrifice are they making? 

What this government seems to have forgotten is although they are trying to roll back politics to the Victorian era, we are not living in Victorian Britain.  The public can gain access to information and the vast majority of us can read (even if their attacks on education may threaten that).  Just because the Tories claim that the deficit was caused by Labour overspending on public services doesn’t make it so; it’s just another falsehood.  We all know it was caused by the international banking crisis – it was on the news.  Retroactively claiming it was caused by Labour investing too much money in the NHS and so forth is just ridiculous.  Not only that, most of the public do actually like public services, the clue is in the name.  Some of us even remember the mess the Tories left public services in after 18 years of their rule.

This is the reason why this IFS report is so welcome.  It has confirmed what most of us already knew; George Osborne’s budget is a regressive budget.  His budget will hurt the poorest people in society while protecting the wealthiest, and one only had to look at his face when he delivered it; he was cynically enjoying every minute.  It was if he getting some sort of sadistic sexual pleasure out of the cruelty of it – and now the mask is off.  He may say the IFS’s analysis is wrong, but in the immortal words of one individual who helped bring down a Conservative government, “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”


4 thoughts on “Politics In Retrograde

  1. Those comments are about an earlier budget as you know, Irene. I didn’t approve of that budget either to be honest, even though it was a Labour budget. I was not a member of the party at that time and even if I had been I would have criticised it. However, I think the comparison of the British deficit with that of Greece is misleading and has been used by the Tories to muddy the issue and scare the electorate.

    The Osborne budget is far more cruel than the Labour’s and judging by the way the IFS have critiqued it they agree with that analysis. Cuts have to be made but there is much fairer and sensible way to apply them than Osborne’s. His cuts are too savage and lack ‘compassion’ – it is the Tories utter and complete denial of their blatant cruelty that I find offensive. If the measure of a society is in how it treats its less fortunate citizens then this Conservative budget is certainly ‘regressive’ and threatens to plunge us back into the pre-Welfare State 1930s.

  2. Hi Andy

    I agree 100% I have been uttering those same thoughts to friends and family myself. I’m also sick of people blaming Labour for what was a WORLDWIDE meltdown of the banks. I think the torries give Laboor too much credit if they think they can have THAT MUCH power!

    The NHS is the wrong place to make major cuts in the budget. After spending 3 weeks in hospital in January I have sen first hand how hard they work. And again I agree with you that most on country depend on the NHS. A hell of alot more than the number of people who don’t.

    Anyway great post!

    Lisa Marie

  3. I didn’t have time for Cameron before the election. I have even less now. To me he is a hypocrite. I think he is out of touch hasn’t a clue what it means to struggle.
    I used to be Conservative ! so this gives you an idea how I feel about Cameron now !
    I mentioned in an earlier comment he has his head in the sand. I would love to know why he doesn’t pull Nadine Dorries MP into line as for heavens sake she is never out of the Daily Mail, the radio and TV. One only has to watch her up against an MP who actually seems to know what they are talking about to see and ask—how the heck did she get Elected. Oh yes of course her daughters went to a very posh private school Ampleforth or some name like it.
    There it seems one parent was Lady something or other and Chairperson of the Conservatives.
    I have followed her blog since 2005 and it’s all about her personal life and dogs and night’s out. This is when I woke up and thought mm !! Send Mr Cameron a letter and ask when this MP is going to stop NEEDING attention. Of course I didn’t get a reply and should have known better. I just wanted to know how he seems utterly unaware how this MP conducts herself and fine she can have all the attention when she actually does something worthwhile.
    Still wouldn’t send my vote back to the Conservative party though !
    Born on a Council Estate my foot. We knew her family and waited 6 years for her to admit she was not born on a Council Estate. Moved there yes much later.
    So with MPs like Cameron has goodness knows the future looks grim.

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