Sunday, 14 August 2011
What a fine mess we are in!
Those wishing to see a redistribution of wealth from the richest to the poorest, as opposed to the reverse - the certain outcome of the Coalition's policies - would be better placed if they recognized that the influence of the global free market, in the UK, prevents this and ensures that the gap between the richest and poorest continues its rapid growth.
It is possible to discuss the impact of this on an ever increasing number of groups and imagine that these effects can be somehow be ameliorated, but despite George Osborne's insistence that social problems cannot be solved by 'throwing money at them', if the underlying problem is that an increasing number of individuals do not have sufficient income to purchase the goods and services to enable them to live a half decent life - the only solution is to find some way to increase their spending power and this costs money. This problem is becoming worse and is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.
Osborne's excuse that 'if throwing money at the problem were the answer - it would have been solved by Labour' on the grounds that this was exactly what they did, however, cannot be true. It has been demonstrated all too frequently since the Coalition has come to power, that the government's of Blair and Brown were simply appalling and must be viewed as the worst in living memory if not longer. They have left the nation with so many intractable problems and no money with which to solve them - even if many of the leading figures may have achieved their true aim!
The riots exposed the dark underbelly of the nation which has virtually destroyed Cameron's plan to sell Britain as a quaint land with a Queen living in her palace and a fairy tale prince and princess - where crime is so mild that the British bobbies can police the nation unarmed. The image that Cameron wished to portray has been completely demolished and there is little likelihood of it being reconstructed and rightly so because it was sheer fantasy.
Unlike Greece, whose rioters were against a government trying to rapidly install, impossible to achieve, austerity measures, because they attacked the very fabric of Greek culture - our most recent crop of rioters are not trying to influence politicians, they have gone beyond believing that they will help in anyway. A poll in June showed that only 14% trusted politicians just to tell the truth, so it is unsurprising that so many do not believe they will help in these troubling times.
So the worst riots here in living memory, although sparked by the apparent accidental killing by the police of an innocent young black man, were not an attempt to change government policy, but simply to obtain consumer goods that the mainly black unemployed youths knew they could not obtain by legitimate means. Cameron refuses to accept that there is any connection between these acts and deprivation and clearly intends to use increasingly harsh sanctions against any repeat occurrences and has the backing of a frightened nation - 33% of whom would be happy to see live ammunition used by the police!
Clearly if Cameron does not deny a link between the rioting and deprivation he is obliged to spend money to help the poorest in society, because maintaining law and order is a primary role of any government. He cannot confirm the obvious because, in so doing, he would undermine Osborne's deficit reduction plan so he is obliged to continue to deny any causal link.
Meanwhile, Osborne is busy trying to create a haven for global corporations to site their European operations here by keeping personal and corporation tax low - the most obvious sources for extra government income. He is clearly hoping to be able to scrap the 50% rate of tax introduced by Labour for the highest earners on the lame excuse that it costs more to collect than will be collected. If he is successful it will be yet another measure that contributes to the increasing gap between rich and poor.
Cameron is facing the likelihood of increasingly impossible circumstances ahead, as the austerity measures fully bite. These are likely to see more public unrest from those who still believe that politicians can and will act in the interest of the people. The police clearly have the upper hand in their dispute over the cut of 20% in their budget which no US Supercop will be able to resolve and only the most optimistic will believe that the underclass, who engaged in the riots, will not take advantage of any public disorder against the austerity cuts with a repeat of riots aimed at looting - unless some hope for a better life is provided.
Since there does not seem to be any great hope that the economy will improve and that a double dip recession appears most likely. It seems almost certain that Labour will continue to increase their lead in the polls and form the next government - which is astonishing considering it was they that dragged the country into its dire financial predicament and should have been out of office for at least a generation.
The Lib/Dems will all but disappear from the political scene, for, although they are best placed to prosper as a result of our dire circumstances, since few of our present ails can be attributed to them. They are too timid to perform the root and branch surgery to their policies necessary so that they confront the real world, but will continue to apply their sticking plaster mentality and incomprehensible 3000 word dissertations of intellectual avoidance at this time of immense challenge.