Nick Clegg has criticised Corbyn and Labour for “Demonising Austerity” . This will no doubt anger many of us but worryingly it will probably fuel the fire of those that support austerity measures.
He has personified austerity. As if austerity is a defenceless being that has feelings.
So let us take a look at the meaning of the word austerity.
** Spoiler Alert – Austerity is not an actual person **
The truth is that austerity has been falsely used.
True austerity would mean cut backs in all government spending including MPs salaries but that hasn’t happened has it?
The average basic income for an MP increased from £67,000 a year in 2015 (the year they won the election and got into power without the Lib Dems) has rose to £74,000. A whopping 10% !! Hardly ‘tightening our belts’.
Well perhaps they can console themselves that they solved the deficit problem, which surely was the reasons they introduced austerity in the first place? But that hasn’t happened either.
In fact the deficit has increased by 53% (and that is taking into account inflation, otherwise the figure would be much higher).
So what exactly has austerity ‘achieved?’
If you can call a 134% increase in homelessness, a rise in the deficit, a pay cap on public sector workers so severe that now 17% of nurses now have to rely on foodbanks an ‘achievement’ then yes it has achieved something.
The biggest ‘badge of honour’ that austerity has achieved is the UN finding that the Human Rights of disabled people has been violated by austerity. That is surely something to write home about?
If Nick Clegg would like to point out exactly what positive outcomes austerity has achieved, then I will gladly listen to him. Because I don’t understand how can you ‘demonise’ a severe economic policy that has left millions in poverty.
What about the feelings of families that have to choose between eating and heating? Do their feelings not matter?
Many of those in favour of austerity may cry well how do we deal with the economic problem that we have following the Global Crash of 2008?
Well there is an alternative…
Perhaps we need to think outside of the box that is Neoliberalism, we have afterall been in this situation before.
The Great Depression of 1931 was followed by austerity and a World War that plunged many of the poor into even worse conditions than they were already living in.
Similarly, the Global Crash of 2008 and subsequent recession led to the introduction of austerity measures in 2010, and an increase in poverty.
Has no one learned yet that tightening our belts after an economic crisis does not work?
On the back of the austerity that followed the Depression, Labour Party created the Beveridge Report of 1942, which set out a grand vision of public spending much like the Labour Manifesto of 2017 did. It provided an alternative to austerity and eventually it was accepted and proved very popular. It led to a landslide victory for Labour and the creation of NHS and the Welfare State. After years of austerity and changed the social and economic landscape of the UK for the better and it was just what everyone needed.
So when will we learn from previous mistakes and eventual victories?
The Crash could have been avoided. Remember, it was caused by the over inflation and free market economics, much like 1931. Keynesian economics would have controlled the over inflation that preceded the 2008 crash and would have opposed austerity measures that followed.
Keynesianism is an economic theory that works on the belief that economic demand determines economic output, in other words the more the public are willing and able to spend, the better the economy will perform. And this means investing more into public spending, not less . If the public have more money to spend the economy recovers quickly. If the public are skint and poor, how on earth can they spend anything? It’s quite logical really!
Today we see that austerity has not reduced the debt but that the government are quite happy to spend generously when it suits them with the £1 billion DUP deal, so how long can we live under a false austerity?
The Tories voted against the public sector pay cap only a fortnight ago, flying in the face of hopes of an end to austerity.
The optimist in me however, would like to think that we are on the brink of a radical change for the better and that it is only matter of time before we have a government that rejected austerity.
For now though if Nick Clegg wants to defend and personify austerity then we should treat austerity as a person.
And in that case (Mr or Mrs) Austerity should be punished by the UN for its’ Human Right Violations and stand trial for fraud. It has been lying to us all from that start.
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