CHANCELLOR OSBOLLOCKS: THE DEFINITIVE DECONSTRUCTION
In a preface to Wednesday’s Budget, The Slog cuts through the rhetoric of cuts, and puts Osbornomics to the sword
Between August 2010 and the start of 2014, George Osborne claimed to have effected some £83bn in ‘cuts’ to various Government expenditures. He told Radio 4’s Today programme at that time:
“When you see people on the telly who say that welfare can’t be cut anymore – or, even worse, promising they will reverse the changes we’ve already made and increase housing benefit – ask yourself this: what public services would they would cut instead? What taxes they would put up in their place? Or would they borrow and spend more, and risk our country’s economic stability again?”
Underlying these specious ‘choice’ options are three untrue assertions by the Chancellor:
- That the only alternative to spending cuts is tax increases
- That the Government is not borrowing money any more
- That the country’s economic stability depends on spending cuts
We’ll get to the wherefores in a few paragraphs – along with the forthcoming Fourth Lie – but before we even start to deconstruct the serial mendacity of George Osbollocks, let’s look more closely at the real sums involved.
Soon after the Chancellor’s £83bn claim, the ‘net’ result of those cuts turned out to have been less than half of that claimed. At the start of 2015 (just one year later) the right wing Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the running total then was £35bn.
Camerlot loves to blur and complicate these figures, but it’s not hard to put them into sharp perspective. First, £83bn is ALL government spending cuts. Second, the euphemistically termed ‘net’ outcome is the Civil Service (who are profoundly complicit in this process) way of saying “we fought back and explained why we had to survive”. On the same principle, in defence expenditure it tends to be the sharp-end squaddies who get fired – not the brass hats. Just fancy that.
So sticking to ‘welfare’ (into which all kinds of anomalies are thrown) the Government itself accepts that only around 60% of total cuts are welfare-related. Which means the real level of savings made by May 2015 at the expense of poorer people was around £21bn – or, over five years, under £5bn a year.
Hold those latter figures in mind: their relatively small size is inversely proportional to the Himalayan mountain range of lies you have been told about the ‘necessity’ of such cuts, ‘Britain’s need to live within its means’ and all the rest of the tosh.
“The only alternative to spending cuts is tax increases”
There are myriad alternatives to tax increases. To find them, however, means trying to decode the innately dishonest accounting of Whitehall Sir Humphreys.
In the clearest figures available on total spend estimated for the current fiscal (2015-16) there is a sum 3rd in size behind healthcare and pensions….and bigger than welfare. At a whopping £66bn, it is dubbed ‘Other Spending’
Drill down into that, and you find lots of tiddlers, plus another total at the bottom called – again – ‘Other Spending’. This comes in – way ahead of the sum saved on welfare to date – at £35bn.
In this twilight zone, we find these two oddities:
- General Government 9.2bn
- Protection £13.8bn
8.2bn of general goverment turns out to be ‘executive and legislative functions’, of which there are only three – the Commons, the Lords, and the Cabinet. The Slog has established that this does not include Whitehall, which has its own separate budget.
So we’re being asked to believe here that it costs £8.2bn to run, staff and administer a total of around 1600 legislators, staff and ministers of the Crown. Frankly, I don’t believe it.
‘Protection’ involves police, fire services, prisons and the Courts. But within this is £1.6bn devoted to ‘public order and safety research and development’. Translated, it means water cannons, gridding and other forms of crowd control: it’s for protecting them, not us.
Drilling further still, there are some less than tiddly-piddly sums at this second level, and these are the ones that leap out:
- Broadcasting & publishing services £4.3bn
- Economic enterprise development £3.8bn
- R&D Economic Affairs £6.1bn
- Cultural services £1.9bn
Every of these becomes a kind of sub-atomic zone peopled entirely by sets of initials beginning CK or GK. No further explanation is given, but they are all potentially explosive: broadcasting and publishing (now the politically neutral COI has been conveniently abolished) is, I know, abused on a daily basis: it is NOT the BBC, but it is a quiet third-level accountancy dumping ground in which to hide things like covert media manipulation and paid for PR…for example, of an anti-Brexit nature.
It is clear that NONE of the economic enterprise and ‘R&D’ is real research, because – laughably – that is recorded elsewhere at £0.0. But the total for this grand project is a whisker short of £10bn. As the non-financial economy of the UK has actually shrunk by 18.2% since Osbollocks began ‘rebalancing’ the UK economy, I would contend that – for all practical purposes – these spends should be diverted to the amelioration of people pauperised by austerity-fuelled recession.
Towards the end of my years working as an adman with the COI as a client, I met several senior civil servants and ministers. Based on what I was told at the time, my most likely ‘explanation’ of the numbers above would be a combination of cockups, consultants and hidden political communication budgets thieved off the taxpayer.
It comes to a total of £16.1bn PER YEAR…or 73% of the total cut from frontline welfare over FOUR YEARS.
In total, the dubious and/or unexplained costs of UK government per annum come to a total of £40.4bn per year….just short of the total budget for the Defence of the United Kingdom.
And I didn’t even start peering in the Defence budget. That is not what I’d call “no alternative to cuts in welfare”.
“The Government is not borrowing money any more”.
Deconstructing this nonsense is the work of a few lines: not only is the Government borrowing more money than ever before, it is servicing 50% more borrowing than when it came to power…and still running a £79bn deficit every year.
Osbollocks gets round this reality in two ways:
- By lying in his Budget speeches. During the 2014 speech he claimed the Government was “paying off the National Debt” and that it had “eliminated the First World War debt for good”. The Government is managing (just) to pay off the interest on the National Debt (if interest rates rose we would be in deep trouble) but the figure gets bigger every year because they overspend every year. The First World War debt was pure fraud: a transference via new debt bonds into the market and off the Treasury balance sheet.
- Constantly confusing the layperson by treating ‘debt’ and ‘deficit’ as the same thing. After 2014, this involved him in lying even about this, because he failed to reduce the deficit completely, and increased the debt massively.
These are the clear and immutable facts: the debt is the National Debt all up going back over more than a century; the deficit is how much more the Government spends than it earns.
The latest moving annual total for the 2016 fiscal DEFICIT is £79bn. By this time, it was supposed to be zero.
The latest total NATIONAL DEBT is estimated to be £1.53trillion. In under six years of Osbollocks nurture, it has risen almost exactly 50%.
It is an abject political failure, a total betrayal of every UK citizen beyond the fatcat 3%, and a hopeless performance made appalling by the unnecessary hardship imposed upon those who can least afford it.
Which brings me to the final fib…
“The country’s economic stability depends on spending cuts”
Were there even an atom of truth in this genuine Goebbels of a lie, we really would be in a mess many, many times worse than the one we’re in.
Let’s be really, really generous to Osbollocks and say that his TOTAL welfare savings over six years – ie, by the end of this fiscal – will amount to some £30bn net in that year. There’s no way he’ll reach that, but let’s just have some nice round figures to concentrate the mind.
Assuming savings of £30bn, and a National Debt of £1500bn (also very generous to the Chancellor) his savings will represent just 2% of the debt.
In actual fact, the Chancellor’s own estimate for 2019-20 fiscal is a mere £12bn saving on welfare spend. That will be a microscopic percentage of the Debt by then, which is on track to balloon to at least £1.7 trillion: to be exact, 0.7% of it. He might as well try to lower sea levels by urinating on the land.
The National Debt (and this is at the lowest interest levels in recorded modern history) costs £60bn just to service. That of is twice the size of the welfare cuts.
He could save (see earlier) a third more by cutting out just the most obvious incompetence and waste…and leave the welfare budget alone.
If he had done this since 2010, some £40bn would have been added to Britain’s gdp. In the Spring of last year, Price Waterhouse Cooper calculated that at the then growth outlook, this would produce “a temporary drag on UK growth”. Since that time, however, the rate of growth outlook has been variously cut between 4 and 10%. £40bn more IN the economy and £49bn OFF spending costs would have been £89bn more ‘economic profit’. Now that would have paid off all the interest….and improved the growth rate.
The truth is that the Chancellor has taken discredited ideological decisions to please his MPs, and political decisions to please those in the 3% who keep the Party going. This is why the three big lies have been necessary, it’s why they’ve had to get bigger as the failure became more obvious, and it’s why he will now compound the problem by asking the poorest 50% of the country to subsidise the unpleasant greed of the 3% by even more.
It is obvious already that Osbollocks is going to blame the ‘unexpected global slowdown’ for the fact that his economic and fiscal policies have been a dismal failure. The Smuggies will accept The Fourth Lie because it suits their book so to do.
The Brexiters will – quite rightly – continue to point out that from 2019 onwards (or thereabouts) the UK could remove a further £41bn of costs by leaving the EU. Had Camerlot done this when it came to power, since 2012 we could have put some £120bn into deficit and interest reduction. But such is, of course, strengstens verboten under the terms of our Special Relationship with Amerika.
The global slowdown was no more unexpected than our own local disaster of Friedmanite monetarism and overly financialised capitalism since these depraved ligthweights came to power. They have inherited the debt legacy of “business friendly” Blairism, and will likely bequeath to us the corporate State of Camerlot.
I implore the Decency Spectrum yet again: we have no need to insult these people, merely to work during every waking hour to hoist them by their own petard.
It involves nothing more than the revelation of undisputed fact to vapourise their lies.