Week 12: Villain – George Osborne

by George_East on March 23, 2014

Tory_VillainThis Week’s Villain of the Week (and sometimes it feels like every week’s Villain of the Week) is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne

Last week was budget week and it ends with the Chancellor triumphant.  The polls have narrowed to a 1 point Labour lead that may have disappeared completely within a few days; the press are eating out of his hand, extolling his genius again (the omnishambles budget of 2012 is long forgotten); and he is even increasingly looking like the natural successor to David Cameron as Tory leader again, after being pretty much written off for much of the last couple of years.

The budget also completely wrong footed Labour, leading to a piss poor response form Ed Miliband and a few days of confusion while Labour figured out what its pensions policy even was.   The outcome – pretty much what George said.   Osborne not only out foxed Labour, but has also set the pensions policy agenda for the foreseeable future.    Like everything else, the message is that the state needs to get the hell out of pensions and stay out.

The tabloid Tory press portrayed the budget as a victory for pensioners and savers,  and so it was if you could afford to put aside £15,000 per year in savings (not so much if you earn £15,000 per year) or if you have a huge pension pot and can therefore afford to make substantial cash drawdowns rather than have an income.   Osborne’s moment was captured by that former left wing Lib Dem, pensions minister, Steve Webb, who declared that if pensioners wanted to spend their pension pot on a new Lamborghini that was up to them.    That would take a pension pot of £350,000 or so and even then would thereafter leave the pensioner with nothing left from his or her pension pot and reliant solely on the state pension.

On the other hand the message to those on low incomes or dependent on public services was: austerity for ever.  The rise in the income threshold to £10,500 will not make a blind bit of different to those in low paid part time jobs who do not even earn that sum.   It won’t help the unemployed, or those pensioners without the luxury of a private pension pot.

You see – George Osborne has no use or need for those who most need the state’s help, because they, on the whole, either don’t vote at all or if they do vote they don’t vote Tory.  Actually it is not quite true, he does have a use for them, but it is only as a group to demonise as spongers, scroungers and malingerers.   They exist to be a wedge issue in his tin pot Machiavelli schemes, rather than as  real people with real problems.

This was then potentially the budget that won the next election (or at least the budget that made the Tories far more likely to be the largest party).  It was also the budget which paved the way for the final dismantlement of most social protection and what are left of the public services – ‘the dead hand’ of the state must be removed.    If that leads to poverty and starvation, then that is the fault of the poor and the hungry.

Bread and circuses, crumbs from cakes. Enough will be satisfied with that in the end.   Gideon will be laughing all the way to the welfare state’s grave.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Fionauk512 March 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Every day I think my disgust for this government can’t grow any deeper and yet every day I am proved wrong.


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