“This emergency Budget deals decisively with our country's record debts. It pays for the past. And it plans for the future. It supports a strong enterprise-led recovery. It rewards work. And it protects the most vulnerable in our society. Yes it is tough; but it is also fair.”
And those of course were indeed, the opening, pinging words of our newly installed filthy rich kid, snobby and very aristocratic Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. But first let me just say, ever since that dreadful day when Conservative and Liberal fell into each others capitalist loving arms, a cloud of agitated depression has fallen over me, and I guess, that I’m not on my own as the true horror of a coalition made in hell unfolds in front of our eyes.
So for a time on Wednesday, numbed and gyrating still from the previous days Budget (mugging) which we were told was an emergency I decided to listen to the England/Slovenia World Cup Mach on the old radio, there was two reasons for this, not that suddenly I’ve been converted into an England fan or a national flag waver, no such transformation. I was intrigued after the first two games to discover and to learn if the team was able to perform any better after and following the media and fan lambasting of the team, and to check out the contribution of Jermain Defoe throughout the game. I was not disappointed, with Defoe that is. This sudden interest can only, and I do assure you, attributed in the fact that Jimmy Defoe who is father to the above mentioned now hero of England’s stumbling cheering, no longer barracking fans, happens to be my nearby neighbour here in Canning Town. I can tell you that Jimmy is one proud dad; he was elated, exultantly proud and joyful when I spoke to him yesterday, he told me that Jermain not only scored the first goal of the campaign, but was the first black player to score a goal for England in a World Cup tournament – So well done Jimmy and well done Jermain!
My only fear is that the coalition would take some course credit for the England performance, and up till now haven’t seen anything, just hope it stays that way?
What's especially significant about the emergency Budget has been the advanced and careful PR surrounding it? Clegg and David Cameron both have experience and training and PR backgrounds and its plain to see. Every day a minister or other stands up to tell everyone the problem is far worse than expected, and the public are then softened up for the bad news. Clegg then spouts progressive messages to keep the lefties in his party on side, even if they remain ill at ease with the general thrust of what is happening. This entire process has been rigidly mapped out, not just economically and politically, but also in terms of public relations.
Well three day’s on from the Budget delivery, we are still analyzing its possible impact on working people, and will dissect, break down and examine what is clearly an attack on the working classes in due course.
Meanwhile we think, that’s Brian Hopper and myself who is just back from his holidays (Cyprus) lucky bugger, that Clement Attlee’s last years in office may be of some interest because most of the welfare state (now under attack) as we still know it was put in place in the post war Labour government. The National Health Service (NHS) provided universal health care, State secondary education was free for all. The state was building social housing on council estates. There were new unemployment and sickness benefits (now under attack), free school dinners and milk (now under renewed attack). Yet the government that had done all this barely scraped back at the polls, its majority slashed from 146 to just five. The next year, it was gone.
Why did this happen?
The seemingly endless austerity measures were the main reason. Food rationing ended in West Germany on 6 January, 1950. However in victorious Britain, though, everything except preserves was still on ration. An adult had an ounce and a half of cheese a week, an ounce of cooking fat, and six ounces of butter, then there was the eight ounces of sugar, two pints of milk and the one egg. To the (and Brian will remember this) dismay of children everywhere, sweets, which had gone off-ration in April 1949, were restricted again in August. ‘Unexpected demand was blamed, a poor excuse in a nation that had not been able to indulge its notoriously sweet tooth for almost a decade.
The meat ration was at its lowest level. During the war, it had stood at 87 per cent of pre-war consumption. The government now cut it to 69 per cent. The reason was a breakdown in talks with Don’t Cry for me Argentina, which supplied much of the imported beef. The Tories seized the publicity opportunity and splashed the matchbox-sized meat ration across its election campaign posters. The bacon ration, too, was less than in the war, down on three ounces a week, or three medium-cut rashers, which was not going to make a government popular in a country that, loved the full English breakfast.
Well that’s something to think about, when Labour try to run capitalism, we can see the pitfalls.