Pusillanimous is a good word and it’s a useful word. It sums up Labour’s last five years in opposition. The definition of pusillanimous is:
showing a lack of courage or determination; timid
Either through cowardice or weakness, the Labour Party failed to counter the absurd allegations made by the Tories that they had created the recession and had driven the country to bankruptcy, because they “crashed the economy”. One ridiculous statement put forward by the Tories and the Lib Dems claimed the United Kingdom was in a similar situation to Greece. Not a single Labour politician that I saw on television or heard on the radio bothered to counter these accusations. Instead, they rolled over and let the Tories get away with murder.
Governments don’t create or cause recessions: these happen because of external factors, like banking collapses and stock market crashes. The current recession (What? You think it’s over?) was caused by a combination of factors, the most notable of which was the subprime mortgage crisis, which was triggered by the collapse in house prices and an increase in mortgage foreclosures. Mortgage companies lent money to people who didn’t have the means to repay the loan. Household debts like these were bought by unscrupulous companies hoping to capitalize on debts. Unfortunately the high rate of default meant that these debts were ‘toxic’.
The other factor in the recession story was the banking crisis, which was caused by the light touch regulation of the financial sector that has its origins in the 1980s under Thatcher and Reagan, and was continued under Blair and Clinton. The banking crisis and the subprime mortgage crisis are interlinked. Both crises were created by unabashed greed and a lack of regulation; the very cornerstones of neoliberalism.
Governments may not cause recessions, but they can make them worse through inertia, complacency and sheer incompetence. The latter includes handing out tax cuts to the rich; attempting to stimulate a property boom and basing a notional economic recovery on inflated house prices. All of these things happened under the Coalition government and look set to continue under the Cameron regime. Labour did little to challenge these things.
One more thing: the country wasn’t and isn’t “bankrupt” as the Tories and their erstwhile partners, the Lib Dems, have claimed. If the country was “bankrupt” it would not have been able to pay its civil servants or even its MPs. If the country was “bankrupt” it would not have been able to borrow money at preferential rates of interest on the international bond markets. Another Angry Voice comprehensively debunks these myths and others.
Instead of opposing the coalition’s fiscal imprudence, Labour actually walked through the Aye lobby with the Tories and Lib Dems and condemned the nation to more austerity by committing themselves to Osborne’s spending plans.
This is from the Morning Star,
LABOUR MP Diane Abbott accused her party’s leaders yesterday of doing working people a “great disservice” by backing Tory plans for permanent austerity.
The London mayoral hopeful was among five Labour MPs who defied their whips to vote against the Con-Dems’ budget responsibility charter.
Katy Clark, Dennis Skinner, Austin Mitchell and Roger Godsiff also opposed the charter alongside 13 MPs from other parties.
But support from shadow chancellor Ed Balls saw the charter, which includes plans to slash public spending by a further £30 billion, passed by a whopping 515 votes to 18.
The Star reported that Green MP Caroline Lucas called his position “feeble and inconsistent” during Tuesday’s debate.
It’s little wonder those who would have ordinarily voted Labour decided to give their vote to another party or stay at home. I mean, why vote for a party that’s going to do exactly the same thing as the party in power? It doesn’t make sense.
And Ms Abbott yesterday revealed her dismay at watching fellow Labour MPs ordered to troop through the lobbies with Tories and Lib Dems.
“I was hugely disappointed yesterday to see the Labour Party vote in favour of further austerity and in doing so we have done hardworking people a great disservice,” she told the Morning Star.
“Instead of simply mimicking current practices we should be offering a solid alternative through investment in public services to create real and sustainable growth.”
Yet Labour apparatchiks denied this ever took place and here’s an MP saying that it had. Only 13 Labour MPs could be bothered to vote against Tory spending cuts. That’s pretty sad, but it’s also a disgrace. It’s as if Labour actually wanted to lose the election.
Whatever you think of George Galloway, he’s got the two main parties bang to rights. They are indeed “two cheeks of the same backside”.