GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

 

Six months ago, Britain's left had an enthusiasm gap too. Prior to the General Election of May 2010, a lot of progressives were disaffected with the Brown Premiership, jaded after 13 years of New Labour. However, despite the makeovers and compassionate conservatism, the Tory Party still wasn't detoxified from the days of Thatcher and Major. David Cameron hadn't sealed that deal. So many people I know decided to experiment with their votes. Our first ever Prime Ministerial TV Election Debates had a huge impact too. For the first time the leader of the smaller third party, the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg, got equal billing with major party leaders Gordon Brown and David Cameron. He looked plausible, articulate, and could throw his hands up in Ronald Reagan fashion ("there you go again") when the two big party leaders slugged it out.

Six months ago, <b>Britain's left had an enthusiasm gap too.</b> Prior to the General Election of May 2010, a lot of progressives were disaffected with the Brown Premiership, jaded after 13 years of New Labour. However, despite the makeovers and compassionate conservatism, the Tory Party still wasn't detoxified from the days of Thatcher and Major. David Cameron hadn't sealed that deal. So many people I know decided to experiment with their votes.  <img src="http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e199/peterjukes/motley%20moose/Clegg-Cameron_thumb.jpg"> Our first ever <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8621119.stm>Prime Ministerial TV Election Debates</a> had a huge impact too. For the first time the leader of the smaller third party, the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg, got equal billing with major party leaders Gordon Brown and David Cameron. He looked plausible, articulate, and could throw his hands up in Ronald Reagan fashion ("there you go again") when the two big party leaders slugged it out. 

For a while the papers were filled with Cleggmania. The media narrative was all about this new force in British politics. The polls spiked up and Mark Penn explained how consumer politics had changed the UK forever. Many 'progressives' (like my son and his mother) decided to vote tactically. They were bored and disappointed with New Labour not being radical enough. So why not go for a more radical alternative? The Lib Dems were different. They must be more progressive. (No less an authority than Jerome Armstrong on MYDD told me they were way to the left of Labour)

As it turned out, the swing to the Lib Dems wasn't great. Come election night, thanks to anomalies of first past the post, there were actually fewer seats for them. But the Lib Dems had, in the seat where my son and his mother live, stolen enough votes from Labour to let the Tories in. More importantly, for the first time in living memory there was a 'hung parliament' with no one party with an overall majority. And what happened next? Our first Coalition government since World War II.

Now you'd think, given the overwhelming overlap of policies, especially on welfare, Europe and Green issues, this would have been a Labour/Lib Dem Coalition. But thanks to the Parliamentary mathematics, the abrasive style of Brown and the subtle shift in Lib Dem thinking since Clegg had taken over, a Conservative Lib Dem Coalition was created.

Of course, we on the left immediately called it the ConDem Coalition, but the public liked to see Cameron and Clegg outside Number Ten together. They looked young. They looked different (even though they went to the two most elite private schools in the country). Meritocracy, pragmatism, youth and reasonableness had returned the the land. The cameras flashed. The media fawned.

***

Five months into office, using the cover of the bond markets, cajoled by the Right Wing Press (mainly controlled by an American Citizen called Rupert Murdoch) this so called 'Liberal Conservative Government' has announced, in its Comprehensive Spending Review, the biggest cuts to government spending since 1921.

The ostensible reasoning for this is clear. They say they don't want reduced spending: it's not ideological but practical: this hurt us more than it hurts you. Britain had until recently the biggest annual deficit in the G7. This is largely due to the massive bailout of British banks two years ago (bigger than the US as a proportion of GDP) and the loss of tax revenues in an economy which had become over-reliant on financial services and the City.

£82 billion has been slashed from the budget for the next five years - that's 25 per cent of all government spending - double that the French have been proposing, and larger than any other major industrialised nation. Unlike Ireland and Greece, there was no real problem with raising money on the bond markets. Our bonds are fixed for longer terms than most countries our actual accumulated debt in on the low side - below France and Germany.

There are some salient differences with the US. Military spending has been cut by 10 per cent, and international aid and healthcare has been ring fenced. Taxes are also going up, but mainly in indirect VAT which regressively impacts the poor rather than the better off. Over half a million public sector jobs are to be cut. The Coalition says this is 'non ideological' but the state has grown too large an employer (though it actually employs a lesser percentage than under Thatcher).

The Coalition says private sector 'growth' will take up the slack, but with another 700,000 jobs being lost in the private sector thanks to the knock on effects of the cut backs, the private sector (still starved of loans since the banking crisis) has to create 2.5 million new jobs in the next five years... during a world wide recession when exports are suppressed.

But since then, the changes to benefits and house provision have been announced. New affordable housing projects have been shelved. Housing benefits for the low paid, elderly, sick and unemployed are now capped, and will no longer follow market rates, leading to the exodus of hundreds of thousands from our expensive inner cities, and the end of the unique mix of different classes and incomes which has made London such a diverse place. In a year in which the CEOs of the top 100 FTSE companies say their pay rise by 35%, the proposed cuts and tax rises(themselves a result of the bank bailout and credit crunch) will fall inordinately on the poor.

The revered Institute of Fiscal Studies calculates the bottom 10% will, on average, lose about 5.5% of their net income compared to roughly 4.5% for the top 10%.

Let us remember that the 5.5 per cent cut will affect people on very tight budgets, who can barely feed themselves healthily. Whereas the cuts on the top 10 per cent will result in fewer luxuries being bought. But just forget the social injustice of this - think of the economic impact: public sector deleveraging at a time of private sector deleveraging risks creating a double dip, and the kind of deflationary stasis Japan has suffered for the last decade.

As for the deficit, it could be increased by the loss of growth thanks to these cuts. As Paul Krugman said in The New York Times last week.

Both the new British budget announced on Wednesday and the rhetoric that accompanied the announcement might have come straight from the desk of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary who told President Herbert Hoover to fight the Depression by liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers, and driving down wages. Or if you prefer more British precedents, it echoes the Snowden budget of 1931, which tried to restore confidence but ended up deepening the economic crisis.

Britain's Coalition Government is conducting a huge social and economic experiment. Though they claim to be 'classic liberals' much of the programme of cuts takes the tax and benefit system back to the early 20th Century. The inequality of the Gini Coefficient, ramped up massively under Thatcher and only marginally offset by New Labour under Blair and Brown, is set to increase again markedly. Once again a whole generation could be lost to unemployment. Our inner cities could be eviscerated. Already the BBC has had it's de facto independence removed by stealth during Comprehensive Spending Review.

As more has dripped out over the week since they were announced, it becomes clear these cuts have been hurried, ill thought out, often unenforceable and with hidden costs down the line. The Coalition could also fail before its five year term is up, especially if civil unrest follows the clear injustice of the plan.

However, all that is in the future, and as it stands, the poorest in our society are having to pay for the mistakes of the richest. Every Lib Dem voter I know, including my son and his mother, now regret what they did in May.

So, when you think about voting next week, and either think about abstaining, or casting your vote tactically to 'send a message' to a tired or somewhat discredited administration.... Think what happened here. And think again. Crossposted from Motley Moose

Tags: Con Dem Coalition, Democrats, obama, UK Elections, mid term elections (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

This seems

much more productive than the demonization and parsing of blame on the eve of the midterms.

Blocking a party that wants to eliminate the Dept. of Ed. and slash financial regulation seems like the most important thing possible at this point.  Nothing else matters.  We'll have plenty of time to yell at each other on Wed.

Britain's endeavor to toss public servants out of work en masse and cripple the economic contributions of those they serve seems like the prescription that McConnell, Boehner, and Palin are pushing.  When it doesn't work, they'll blame the immigrants and have cocktails with their ever more wealthy friends.  If we can't see any daylight between Obama's policies and these enough to stand up, not for his agenda, but for ours, we deserve what's coming.

by Strummerson 2010-11-01 12:10AM | 2 recs
I would hope

that you were preaching to the choir here, but I'm not sure that is true.

by MS01 Indie 2010-11-01 12:19AM | 3 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

woe.  bad times.

seems to me fightin' old labor sounds like hillary.

and the pretty lib dems like Obama.

with the same shiny enthusiasm of the new

and the buyers regret and remorse soundss familiar too.

---

nice wrting

The cameras flashed. The media fawned...

 

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 04:47AM | 0 recs
So, This Change Again in 2012...

What are we talking about, tyres or credit card providers or something?

by Shaun Appleby 2010-11-01 04:58AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

Absurd analogies.  I admire Hillary for many things, but she's always been significantly to the right of Labour, just as Obama has.

Glad you got the "nice wrting" dig in, just to keep up your bold stance against insults and personal attacks.

But the MOST important thing is to keep up the aging and divisive grievances, especially in an explicit GOTV diary on the eve of the midterms.   Smells like a morally bankrupt move to me.

by Strummerson 2010-11-01 05:34AM | 1 recs
I Thought...

The writing was actually pretty good.  Just sayin'.

by Shaun Appleby 2010-11-01 05:39AM | 1 recs
RE: I Thought...

damn right.  just re read this;

"Meritocracy, pragmatism, youth and reasonableness had returned the the land. The cameras flashed. The media fawned."

that kind of stuff just POPS.

real, real good.

 

how he finds that to be a "dig" at him - well...oh well.

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 11:28AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

 

Hillary had the support of close to 100% of the AFL CIO.  Old Labor indeed.

you said you were going to not bother with me again.

stick to your word.   

stop stalking.

 

 

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 10:39AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

damn right.  just re read this;

"Meritocracy, pragmatism, youth and reasonableness had returned the the land. The cameras flashed. The media fawned."

that kind of stuff just POPS.

real, real good.

 

how he finds that to be a "dig" at him - well...oh well.

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 11:27AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

I didn't find it a dig at me. I think Shaun is being ironic. But thanks for the kind words on the writing. 

by brit 2010-11-01 11:32AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

no my british brother

strummerson thought my compliment was a "dig" at him. lets just leave that there.

shaun wasnt bein' ironic - he was agreeing with me that this was really well written.

since your are far, far away and im of a curious (though hidden here) nature - what is it that you do over there?

y'know thinking about this - the last brit ive had any interaction with at all was with our side of the deep blue's hitchen brother over brown liquid and smokes...

(hes not quite a friend - almost -  but weve done events together and he stood up for me one time over a job something and ill never lose respect for that.  he also yelled at me once when i said the bushies were using him..but thats a long story and he was right.  i sure know that his views almost always move my own. the f-ers got an extra gear in his cranial transmission than me and other normally semi bright folk.  i havent written him since the big C announcement..been meaning to...but...)

id love to know what someone like you now thinks of him and i someday just gots to understand how he and his brother interact culturally in the media mix over there.

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 11:49AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

You're talking about Peter Hitchens I guess, who is a well known right wing columnist here, though somewhat overshadowed by his more famous brother.

I have reservations about both, but Chris was/is the better writer. Like many in the literary set here though they seem to cross over from Vanguard Marxism to NeoCon Islamophobia with amazing ease. Both have shown the 'rock and roll' trajectory of someone like Keith Richards (whose asinine autobiography has just been published here): radical drunk fighting against power grows up to be radical drunk celebrating their power.  

 

by brit 2010-11-02 08:23AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

Hardly stalking - you're one of the most prominent posters on this site at the moment. 

Hard to miss you, bro. But show a bit of spine please. 

by brit 2010-11-01 11:31AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

the guy is abusive and endless with his taunts and since i cant crawl thru the wires and flatten his nose - its frustrating

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 11:51AM | 0 recs
RE: GOTV: You think YOU'RE screwed? A Cautionary Tale from Britain

I think it's pretty clear who the abusive one is.

Only one of us keeps threatening physical violence.

Thug.

Brit is trying to unite and motivate us.  

You are only interested in indulging your grievance fantasies and dividing us.

Shame on you.

by Strummerson 2010-11-01 07:55PM | 0 recs
I meant

of course to the right of your "fightin' old labor."  Not necessarily the Clintonian/Blairite triangulating 3rd Way New Labour.  But I'd happily take those disappointments over the conservatives here and there, as I do Obama's gradualist and corpratist shortcomings.

We've a choice.  We can either heed Brit's warning.  Or we can join changeagain2012's effort to aid and abet the enthusiasm gap while blaming everyone else.

I hope most here know which is the better course.

by Strummerson 2010-11-01 05:47AM | 1 recs
RE: I meant

look - id prefer not to ever have you comment again on anything i ever write but let me clue you in.

i wrote that post about RI in an attempt to help the democrats up there.

since your bullying ways have driven everyone away from this site - what is said here is seen by no more than a few hundred people - probably fewer - and theyre already politicized either to vote or firmly stay home on purpose -so whats said here has zero effect on voting.  none

but... i wrote that post and when not one person commented on it in two hours - hullo anybody there etc - (again, because you and yours bullying ways have emptied this place out) i got on the phone with a dem friend and acquaintances up in RI to get the diary seen and circulated and sent to local media in order to show that there were progressives who supported caprio and were very upset about the way that obama had stabbed RI democrats in the back.

the diary being on the front page was very good because it was sent out for local people to pick up and read on their mobiles after president clintons rally ended at 5:00 pm

hopefully those people didnt know that this site really doesnt exist any longer.

which is due to you and - your bullying obama enforcer pals.

yesterday you wrote that there were limits to what you are willing to allow the boundaries of obama criticism to be here.  

That shocking anti-democratic arrogance is entirely the problem with your type and why no one who had pro Hillary feelings is willing to come here as long as they know that they will be abused if they step outside of the acceptable lines of allowed dissent that your type get to decide upon.

 

You feel justified in smacking and insulting anyone that you think is a detriment to turn out, when i believe its more that you are so base and tribal and that you enjoy battering on others that dare not to agree with you and your oh so honorable and dutiful brilliance.

if we are allies of any sort - that relationship will end in 32 hours.

i simply and fervently dont like you and i dont mean just your politics, i mean YOU as a person.

youre rude, arrogant and abusive.

if you spoke to me in person as you have here - id break my 10 year pledge of no more fisticuffs and leave you blooded.

I CHOOSE not to have any sort of relationship with you.

I have that right and your endless taunts about this being an "open forum" doesnt change that .

You have violated all acceptable norms that are the basis for any sort of civil exchange.

You hate me and my attitude of opposition to obama - I loathe your politics, your abusive nature and your attitude that you are the "decider" of whats acceptable dissent.

Lets leave it there.

Since its obvious you just MUST have the last word - go ahead leave one final "literate" poison pennings at my royalist thug diary -(let us not hijack this well written diary too) and then after that, pretend I dont exist. 

now i must go - 

please stick to your word that you are never going to bother with me again.

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 11:21AM | 0 recs
RE: I meant

OMG WTF GOP

Having posted a diary and comments, you now say you don't want a response.

Having been rude and abusive, you threaten violence when you get it back.

Really, grow a thicker skin. You won't survive long in political debate if your aggression reverts to whiny victimhood (and back) so quickly. 

by brit 2010-11-01 11:29AM | 0 recs
RE: I meant

so sorry to put this here - it was a personal note to him - but i have no way to keep it private of course.

but you werent around for  the hours of abuse i suffered (woe was me) at this dick's endless taunts yesterday eve.

he wrote about 4o comments at a diary i was trying to use politically - and seen by certain people who normally wouldnt come her and were being sent here - and not one of them was on topic and everyone was a taunt.

i asked him at least 2o times to please stop and eventually i blew my gaskets out and oh well..

i LIVE in the world of real political debate.  I have worked in down and dirty politics in the locals and in DC since i was 14 - 30 years ago. I have produced thousands of hours of radio debate - heck an hour a day from capital hill during the impeachment with congressman from both sides every friggin day...

but i never have had to endure endless taunting of the childish sort that these net nerd children use - lord...

im more than willing to bang it out over the issues - but when one starts on with the illiterate uneducated troglydyte stuff - well, im not willing in real life to take that abuse - maybe thats because no one has attempted it since i was 12.

and yeah, im not against physical violence when it comes to insult.

ive cut it out of my life in recent years - but the irish political world i come from (i worked for biden as a boy and he and his world raised me politically) any man who would suffer such taunting without raised fists - aint no man at all. (we once had a televised mayors debate that turned into a fistfight - it was great!)

again - i love arguments - ive argued with almost all of the top right wingers in dc - in person - its these snide net assasins that frustrate me and is why i almost never come to this or any site like it anymore.

by changeagain2012 2010-11-01 12:13PM | 0 recs
RE: I meant

All hail the glorious sainted martyrdom of changeagain2012!

Let's see:

You oppose hijacking other peoples' diaries.  

BUT here you are.  What does this have to do with the diarist?

You oppose insults and personal attacks.

BUT you come into this diary to do nothing but attack and threaten me.

You want nothing to do with me.

BUT you carry over our dispute from another thread into this one.

Funny.  If it looks like a hypocrite.  If it types like a hypocrite.  You know the rest.

As for blaming me (and my "type," you ridiculous bigot) for destroying MYDD.  This is absurd.  Just part of your twisted persecution complex.  It's a bit circular, you see.  Just because you can't justify this tripe means that you are being bullied.  The fact that someone is willing to stand up to this tripe that you cannot justify means that you are being bullied.  Because you are being bullied, you think your tripe is justified.

Wake up.  It's your "type" of PUMA delusion diaries that destroyed the traffic on this site.  

And your boast of being involved in politics at the WH level loses credibility with every post you type.  It's just really hard to believe that the Clintons would have kept this level of thinking around.

But what do I know.  I'm no professional political operative like yourself.  Just a committed activist who thinks that you are trying to aid and abet the enthusiasm gap on the eve of a critical election.  It's not what we need right now.  But of course, your website grievances MUST take precedence.  Shame on you.

For the record, if you did take a swing at me...

...I wouldn't blink before turning my back and walking away.  Who's the thug?

 

by Strummerson 2010-11-01 02:56PM | 0 recs

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