We’re at a point now at which even the austerity-pushers in the media are looking at Britain’s crumbling infrastructure and saying ‘maybe we should spend the bare minimum on this stuff‘. Among the public there’s been a hunger for public spending for years; now we’re at a point at which you can voice that feeling without being dogpiled by the nation’s thickest columnists. And yet – and fucking yet – Labour are using this situation to promote – of all fucking things – more austerity – i.e. the thing which got us here in the first place – the thing which we know from history never works:
Jonathan Reynolds explaining that the next Labour govt won't invest in and rebuild our public services after 13 years of Tory cuts unless they increase economic growth first. #BBCLauraK pic.twitter.com/iTQkSWUk07
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) September 10, 2023
Another crumbling concrete breeze block in the wall
This is a very simple situation. We can’t send numerous children to school because there’s a chance these buildings will collapse like Liz Truss’s premiership. Anyone who isn’t a complete clown would say ‘well of course we’re going to un-deathtrap these schools – of course we’re not going to crush your children to death in defective concrete – of course we don’t exist solely to transfer wealth to the already wealthy‘. This is what Jonathan Reynolds – shadow secretary for business and trade – had to say:
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Jonathan Reynolds says the Tories were wrong to cancel a Labour program to refurbish and rebuild our schools, but he refuses to say the next Labour govt will refurbish and rebuild more schools that the Tories have committed to doing #TrevorPhillips pic.twitter.com/0ICvkJMLIZ
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) September 10, 2023
For those of you who can’t stand to watch these liars running their lying mouths, Trevor Phillips asked:
Would you commit to building more new schools and repairing more schools than the current government has committed?
Of course I want to be able to do that, of course I look to previous Labour governments that have been able to do things like that, but if we have an economy – whatever the recent revisions from the ONS about our performance since the pandemic – the fact is that this has been 13 years of poor economic performance and that limits the kind of policies and aspirations you’ve got. Until you’re fixing the economy it will be more difficult.
A bemused Phillips responded:
So you see what the problem is here, Mr Reynolds. You’re spending a lot of time telling us that the government’s wrong, but you can’t ever say you would do something different.
And here we get to the crux of the problem.
Austerity doesn’t work
Outside the mainstream media bubble, people have been making three key points for over a decade:
- Austerity doesn’t work.
- Austerity has never worked.
- You can’t fix the problems created by austerity with more austerity.
How do we know that austerity doesn’t work? Because we tried it – multiple times – and it didn’t work. Remember when you were a kid and you wondered if you could fly, so you concentrated really hard, but it just didn’t happen? It’s like that, except you presumably stopped trying to fly some time ago. With austerity, it’s like we know we can’t fly, but we keep finding larger things to jump off in our efforts to prove it works.
Here’s a graph showing that although the Tories sold austerity as the solution to the 2008 recession, it actually ended up being one of our slowest recoveries ever:
Here’s a very informative passage from Raoul Martinez, writing for Novara Media in 2017:
When the [2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat] Coalition came to power, neither history nor mainstream economic theory provided any support for the claim that cuts were the only way to reduce the deﬁcit. Cutting spending in a recession has been tried many times and – without exception – failed. For instance, in the aftermath of the First World War, the US, Britain, Sweden, Germany, Japan and France all adopted austerity policies with devastating impacts on their economies. President Herbert Hoover’s austerity response to the 1929 economic crash was followed by the Great Depression.
The historical failure of austerity as a response to economic crises resulted in a widespread consensus among academic economists that, since recessions are caused by a reduction in demand (and when there is no room to offset cuts by reducing interest rates), cutting spending only makes the situation worse. The textbook response to economic downturns, as any student of the subject knows, is to increase spending. By spending more in the short term, a government can reduce public debt faster because smart spending creates jobs, increases tax revenues and releases more people more quickly from dependency on the state.
However, as governments began to embrace austerity, a handful of economists produced research telling them exactly what they wanted to hear.
Demonically-smirking austerity mongers
For context, this is what Reynolds looked like when he was introduced as the returning shadow secretary for business (following this week’s reshuffle). Imaging being this smug when your job is to tell an audience of millions that their kids can get fucked:
It would be hyperbolic to suggest that actual demons have infested this man; it would also be naïve, as Satan would at least have the sense not to smirk.
How does a person turn into this? Maybe Reynolds has an awareness of all the freebies that Keir Starmer has accepted from wealthy interests – more than every Labour leader since 1997 combined according to openDemocracy – and he knows he’s on the same gravy train? Maybe he just hates young people because of their flagrant hairlines?
Even after looking at the decades of evidence we have on austerity not working, some people will still be squealing that tired refrain: ‘but there’s no money‘. As people have pointed out, however, there’s loads of money – it’s just concentrated in the hands of the few:
Jonathan Reynolds like the entire Labour Party:
"Nothings working on our country." yet "We can't spend more until we have a healthy economy."
But then Labour rule out a wealth tax. Does the super rich hoarding billions whilst children starve look healthy?#BBCLaurak
— Zack Polanski 💚 (@ZackPolanski) September 10, 2023
There’s actually a lot more wealth in recent years it seems, as this harrowing headline and article from Oxfam highlights:
Ten richest men double their fortunes in pandemic while incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall
New billionaire minted every 26 hours, as inequality contributes to the death of one person every four seconds
The world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion —at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day— during the first two years of a pandemic that has seen the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall and over 160 million more people forced into poverty.
“If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet,” said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher. “They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.”
We can’t have safe schools, but the richest among us can purchase a fourth swimming pool at the fifth house they bought for their third favourite dog.
Feel like smirking yet?
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