The Spending Review: a glimpse of an alien world

I’ve just had a quick trawl of today’s blogs over at the Torygraph and the response to the spending review is, for the most part, unsurprising. The Great Lord of Darkness says,

I have taken a little time before commenting on yesterday’s statement by the Chancellor. It is all to easy to become fixated on one aspect or another of his plan to get us out of the ruinous situation created by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and their friends.

“Their friends” happen to be the same people who are friends with the Tory party: the bankers and Ye Wizards of ye Cittie of London. But The Chingford Skinhead refuses to lie down.

Setting aside for a moment the question of fairness, what we can all see is that it has not been, for example, defence spending which has been responsible for the explosion of spending over the lifetime of the Labour Government.

Crumbs! It’s that word again!  Since when did Tebbit ever do ‘fair’? So tell us O Great Lord of Darkness what is responsible for the awful mess we’re in?

It has been welfare, the NHS and education. The first two are the real big spenders. The schools budget costs less than debt interest. Defence costs less than schools. For some good, and some less good, reasons the Government was committed to increase spending on the NHS. That made it inevitable that welfare spending would be squeezed, with its growth being curtailed.

Hey, I know, maybe we could get the military to run the schools or just privatize education like they’ve done in Chile. Oh hang on, they’re already doing that with ‘free schools’.

David Hughes, their chief leader writer had his sights on the RMT’s Bob Crow. In a blog titled “Comrade Crow orders his call to arms but who is listening’? He says,

The RMT boss was trying to whip up the brothers into a frenzy – or at least into a glimmer of interest – by extolling the example of their comrades in arms in France.

Scary huh? But it gets better,

There’s just one problem for Comrade Bob – he’s whistling in the wind. We don’t do mob activity, we do stoicism verging on apathy.

Is that so? What about The Poll Tax Riots? Maybe Britain has changed, Mr Hughes and you’re still living in 1957 when “we never had it so good”.

New boy, Daniel Knowles who has “just graduated in history and economics from Pembroke College, Oxford” (yeah, I’m really impressed) declares that “The Left got what it wanted – they just haven’t realised it yet”. He opens with a dig at the anti-cuts demo last night at Downing Street that attracted around 1,000 demonstrators,

It could almost have been a parody of current Leftist thinking. “Stuff your cuts, we will pay (much higher taxes for decades)” would be a coherent protest. “We won’t pay” makes no sense – government money is taxpayer’s money, so someone has to pay one way or another. The Government looks strong at the moment because of that Leftist confusion. It even has a name – “Deficit Denial”. But perhaps the Coalition should be worried. In the longer run, they may be losing the argument.

The “Deficit Denial” tag is supposed to be some kind of discourse killer by the way. It’s a little like labelling someone a Holocaust denier for donating money to a Palestinian relief fund. It’s easy. It’s lazy. He finishes with this,

This Government has ambitions in that direction – higher university tuition fees, the “free schools” plan and more freedom for local government are all very welcome innovations – but it could be doing an awful lot more, not least with the NHS. At the moment, the Left is disorientated; all they know is that they don’t want cuts. Given time, however, they will regain some composure. If, by then, all austerity has achieved is less effective public services, the Left will probably win the argument, and soon enough we will find ourselves back in ruinous debt.

So young and yet so predictable. You give those Reds what for, yah? Meanwhile Jeremy Warner puts the boot into the Institute for Fiscal Studies report that the spending review will hit the poor and vulnerable the hardest,

To be honest, I’m not sure where all this analysis takes us. One of the Government’s primary aims is to reduce welfare dependency. The benefit cuts are therefore not just about saving money. Now as the IFS argues, some of the reforms announced yesterday further complicate the benefits system, and may perversely further disincentivise work, but overall it must be the case that if you want to reduce the attractions of welfare as a lifestyle choice, you have to cut benefit.

There’s the old canard of “welfare as a lifestyle choice”. I wondered when someone would mention it. I can’t think of one single reason why anyone would willingly choose to live a life on benefits. There are those who are long-term unemployed but have they all necessarily made a “lifestyle choice” to spend their lives on the dole”?

Going for the royal angle, Andrew M Brown tells us  that,

it should not surprise us that the Queen has readily gone along with the plan. Only a week ago she indicated her wish to show restraint in this age of austerity by cancelling the Royal Household’s Christmas party.

Ah, good old Betty, I knew she’d come good! She remembers the Blitz!  He continues,

Partly, the Royal Family wants to show patriotic solidarity with a suffering nation. More than that, though, Queen Elizabeth belongs to a class and a generation to whom frugality comes, if not naturally, then quite easily – and without a squeak of complaint. She represents the old-fashioned upper class, the ones who remember the second world war.

Gawd bless ’em! We really are all in this together!  But you know what?  I’ve never come across a single royal who wasn’t patriotic, it sort of goes with the territory so to speak. But all that belt-tightening means it’s caviare on weekends only from now on.

My old prep school headmaster conformed to this model. He drove an old Peugeot 504 estate, the one that had three rows of seats, and was instinctively parsimonious

Oh, do shut up.

Finally, away from the cuts. Ed West, who can always be relied on for a laugh, bemoaned a blog by Laurie Penny in the New Statesman. In “The glee with which people talk about Thatcher’s death reminds me of the inherent nastiness of socialism” he says,

Even in wartime respect for the dead is considered one of the last vestiges of common humanity when all around decency collapses (near where my parents live in Kent there are the graves of three German airmen who were respectfully given a Christian burial in 1940 by the people they were trying to kill), and yet there are thousands who openly gloat about the failing health of an elderly woman.

She’s not just any elderly woman, Ed,

Mrs Thatcher is a Conservative, therefore she is evil.

Well, that’s a somewhat simplistic analysis but you Tories like things pretty simple, so I’ll just say this: she set in train the neoliberal course of this country that created a climate that fostered and nurtured a culture of greed which ultimately led to the financial crisis and the recession that followed. Sorry, that’s about as simple as I could get.

Which reminds me, when Thatcher finally pops her clogs, I’m going on a week long bender. I may even try and organize a street party somewhere.


After cherry-picking the IFS’s finding before the election, Nick Clegg has today chosen to attack their report on the Spending Review and this time it’s personal,

Clegg said the work by the IFS took no proper account of public spending inputs, or the potential for some spending, such as the pupil premium, to improve social mobility.

I’d say that the coalition government has taken no proper account of the effect this review will have on the poor, the unemployed, children, the vulnerable and the low-waged.


1 Comment

Filed under Comprehensive Spending Review, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Media

One response to “The Spending Review: a glimpse of an alien world

  1. Pingback: Postcards From The Barricades (Part 5): Before and after in the Tory press | Guy Debord's Cat

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