The Socialist 2 October 2013 |
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Tory millionaire tells Britain: 'Back to the workhouse!'
Millionaire chancellor George Osborne announced at Tory conference a plan to keep the country on rations until 2020!
Sentencing ordinary people to another seven lean years he might as well have been Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh's dream for all that his analysis had any basis in reality. But his message that those hit hardest by the cuts are going to be hit even harder was the chilling conclusion.
Hard-pressed families are facing £22 billion of cuts to benefits and tax credits, 70% of which will hit families with children. Osborne's family won't be hit - he has a personal fortune of over £4 million and stands to inherit even more from the family business, along with a knighthood.
Doing his best impression of Mr Bumble, the beadle in Dickens' Oliver Twist, Osborne unwittingly invoked the memory of the hated Victorian workhouses that slowly starved the poor to death.
There has been no austerity for the rich though. The number of millionaires in the country has doubled in the last two years with an additional 32 billionaires created.
People shouldn't get benefits for nothing, he declared. This from the MP who 'flipped' his housing expenses allowance to get his mortgages paid off on his mansion in Cheshire and his house in London - ending up with a profit of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But in reality his speech underlines the political bankruptcy of the Con-Dem coalition.
"Without a credible economic plan you simply don't have a living standards plan," he declared in a jibe at Ed Miliband's announcement that Labour would trim the fingernails of the gas and electricity cartels with a two-year price freeze. But Osborne's economic plan has no credibility.
The so-called deficit reduction strategy, which was forecast to balance the books by 2015 on the back of an economic recovery, has comprehensively failed. Laid bare, however, is the growing inequality caused by the Con-Dems' attacks on living standards and public services - the government of millionaires' real agenda.
Osborne tried to pin the blame on the 1997-2010 Labour governments, saying that historically it always fell to the Conservatives to undo the damage done by 'socialism'. But it was the Thatcher government who smashed Britain's manufacturing, deregulated finance and let rip the credit and housing bubbles that led to the crash in 2008.
Blair and Brown's New Labour simply carried on the policies put in place by the Tories. Commenting on Osborne's speech, Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph summed this up: "For most Tories, let's admit it, life under Labour came to be no better or worse than if they had been in charge."
The Tories appear confident that attacking benefits is a sure route to popularity but there are signs of unease even among the faithful that, particularly in the current supposed economic recovery, their policies have resulted in a steep decline in living standards, unprecedented in the post-war period. That is why Osborne pledged not to raise fuel duty, and why a Tory declared at the conference that they would be mad to oppose Miliband's proposal.
The chancellor concluded: "For the sun has started to rise above the hill and the future looks brighter than it did just a few years ago." The sun, however, has always continued to shine on the rich, who in this period of austerity have been enjoying the financial equivalent of a heatwave.
Osborne's speech does show, as did Miliband's before him, that they can dimly begin to sense the huge anger developing against the cuts and the obscene wealth that continues to be accumulated.
The only thing that is holding that anger back is the leadership of the TUC who again failed to do anything except reassure the Tories that they would not rock the boat too much. However, the Tories, the Lib Dems and New Labour will be making a huge error if they mistake the mood of the TUC leaders for the mood of the working class.