Posted by: Admin | October 21, 2010

Another fine mess you’ve got us into…

As I write, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is delivering his speech in the House of Commons, outlining the Coalition Government’s long-awaited public spending review. For anyone who has been marooned on Planet Zarg for the past 18 months, cuts are required as the government is only able to raise £548bn from taxation to fund a predicted £697bn spend in the year ending March 2011. We all knew it wouldn’t be pretty, but they do say that if we take the medicine  – a spending cut of 19% over the next 4 years (whilst £700bn a year is still planned to be spent) – we’ll all be feeling much better by 2014.

As with all politics, what strikes me most are the incongruities: Cuts in welfare are to save the country £7bn pa, yet over the next 4 years 490,000 public sector jobs will be axed. That means almost half a million taxpayers no longer paying their taxes. If, as with previous civil service cuts, the gap in services is filled by the private sector, then remaining taxpayers will pay more for the same services currently provided by public sector workers. I’ll bring the smoke, you fetch the mirrors.

In France, one million citizens took to the sreets today to protest at the raising of the retirement age to 62. By 2020, our British state pensions will not be payable until the age of 66. It makes sense to keep older workers toiling longer when so many young people are out of work, doesn’t it?

Speaking of young people: the last Government declared its aim to get 50% of young people to university. With fees set to rise and talk of graduate taxes etc, the next generation is being set up to go through life burdened with the kind of debt that caused the current global financial crisis. Lessons learned or sins of the fathers repeated? With education becoming so elitist, we should welcome the announcement that free entry to museums and galleries is to continue, with building projects at the Tate Gallery and British museum to go ahead. At least the hoi polloi will be able to afford a little culture.

Osborne claims the Government’s plans will “bring Britain back from the brink.” Alan Johnson, Shadow Chancellor, answering for the opposition, described the “deepest cuts to public spending in living memory” thus: “Today is the day that abstract figures and spreadsheets turn into people’s futures, people’s jobs, people’s pensions, people’s services, their prospects for the future.” Bit rich coming from the Party at the helm when disaster struck, but then again, the new leader of the Labour Party, Ed Milliband, was wearing the same colour tie as the Prime Minister.

Click here for a round-up of the key issues.

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Responses

  1. “Sins of our fathers indeed” there and here.


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