A Day In Austerity Britain

by Ray_North on March 19, 2015

images-1Everything I’m about to impart upon you in these next few paragraphs is absolutely true.

I awoke yesterday, to the voice of George Osborne telling me that under the stewardship of the coalition the economy and the country were doing really well, and that he should be given the chance to continue with the job after the election.

Ok – he would say that wouldn’t he. Putting aside my visceral hatred of the man and everything he stands for, it is no surprise that a Tory politician who finds himself in the position he does, would boast about falling unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates and relatively modest growth.

But, the reality is that these economic figures are pretty much meaningless when they are placed within the context of our nation and our society and the lives of ordinary people – because, as much as the Tories seek to extoll the virtues of austerity and Labour flounder around to come up with something different, ordinary people continue to suffer and the very elements of our state, the things that those of us who don’t have a massive bank account, rely upon to allow us to function, continue to flounder and die.

A little while later, I went to work – as regular readers know, I work in the Crown Courts – in the last few years, I have seen the Criminal Justice System reduced and diminished by cuts: court staff have been laid off, Court buildings have been closed, the probation service is significantly smaller than it was, whilst the CPS is one of the most overworked and understaffed institutions in the UK. My trial – couldn’t be heard, not because of a legal issue or the failure of a witness to turn up, but because, we simply didn’t have enough staff to run a Court, so, the complainant, the witnesses, various police officers and, indeed, the defendant, all went home to await another day – it shouldn’t happen.

Ok, few people will give a monkey’s about the Criminal Justice System, but, freed from Court, I tried to arrange a beer with my mate Miggzy from Llandudno. Miggzy is the epitome of ‘hard working family man who plays by the rules,’ or whatever that god-awful phrase Brown and Cameron have used. He can’t meet me on Saturday for a beer, because he’s just heard that his wife is being laid off from the school where she works as a TA. It’s not a massive wage, but it makes the difference to him as to whether he can pay his mortgage on time without worry each month – she’s upset so he doesn’t think going out for a beer with me is such a good idea.

I wished him well. But, he’s 42, he shouldn’t be in that position.

Later, I went to pick my kids up from school – there I spoke to another drinking mate – Big Matty Williams, he’s another top geezer, he works as a paramedic. He looked tired and when I asked why, he told me how, he had been to an old man suffering with a bad angina attack, and how there were no beds at the local hospital available for him so he had to wait with an increasingly, and understandably, fractious family until a bed was found for him.

He told me that, in the twenty years he has been doing the job, he has seen the closure of 5 local hospitals.

But it doesn’t end there – later that evening I attended at my kids school again for a Governors Meeting – we were discussing the budget, the brilliant Head Teacher told us that the school had to make significant cuts, but she wanted to keep the teacher/pupil ratio – so we spent the rest of the evening discussing cuts to everything ranging from the fencing that goes around the infants yard, to the provision of after school clubs. It felt desperate, it felt like I was failing my children, my generation was failing my children.

In some ways I congratulate George Osborne – he has achieved pretty much what he wanted to achieve, he, and his ilk have managed to persuade us that we have to live in a society where the state is pared back and reduced for the good of the economy, and the myth prevails that a good economy is one which can create wealth for the few. Well, I for one, am bored with the lie, for me, the mark of a good economy goes well, well beyond deficit requirements and GDP, inflation, unemployment rates and growth, it hinges on how well the economy is able to redistribute and recycle the creation of wealth to ensure that children are educated, the ill are looked after, the homeless are housed and fibres of the legal system are properly and fairly implemented – and, at the moment, I see none of that, and I am struggling to think of a single politician who’s even willing to address the fundamental, structural flaws that have given rise to the bullshit that we have been fed about the economy for the past twenty or so years.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth March 20, 2015 at 7:07 am

Your last three lines are the nub of the issue.

Politicians won’t address these issues because they have to finance election campaigns, and increasingly only the super-rich can give them the money. Spending limits have been relaxed and will soon be relaxed further, I have no doubt. Across the pond, a pair of brothers have promised the Republican nominee for President next year $900 million.

Globalisation and the destruction of union power mean that, in truth, your mates may work hard but they don’t create wealth – perhaps one person in a thousand does so, or even only one in 10,ooo. Soon enough they will be laid off because eastern Europeans (or Koreans or whoever) who will be willing to live in caravans or hostels will do the work they do for much less. Minimum wages, let alone living wages, are simply an incentive for the proliferation of illegal labour markets. Why has this government thought it necessary to create an “anti-slavery tsar”? In order to legalise slavery because a sufficient proportion of the 1 in 10,000 will wish to keep slaves to perform household and sexual services.

But to complain about any of this is, apart from anything else, racist. We lefties have so many principles that we choke on them, not least because we don’t like the truth that a white skin is an unmerited privilege. And given how we have treated both humans of other skin colours and the planet itself, maybe it is time we left the stage…

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Ray_North March 20, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Crikey Mike, even by your wonderful standards that is wonderfully bleak view.

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