Ann Pettifor

Verdict on Autumn Statement 2012, part two

(Photo source: The Guardian)

After my commentary on the Guardian last Wednesday, I expanded my ideas about the Autumn Statement in a piece published on the Huffington Post.  Read the original here.

This Was Not a Budget Statement, it Was a Defeatist Political Capitulation to Despair

Two million unemployed and one million under-employed people; a construction industry mired in deepening slump; green energy suppliers ignored; retailers with few customers coming through the door – all these listened to a British Chancellor carefully today, and heard only one thing.

There is no hope. Nothing can be done. The slump is ‘permanent’. The only ‘cure’ is to hurt the poor, and deepen the crisis.

The Chancellor, backed by the vast majority of the British political and economic establishment, has capitulated to the bankers and to depression. He, the Treasury and the OBR have nothing to offer the British people but defeatism.

Labour is trapped and foolishly focusses on the deficit and debt – just as Mr Osborne wants them to frame it – instead of focussing on the nation’s vast crater of economic inactivity.

Corporate tax receipts fell precipitously in October not because the tax is too high, but because economic activity is too low. And this is wrongly presented to the nation as inevitable, as a ‘permanent’ loss.

Not true. There is massive spare capacity. Ask the 3 million un- or under-employed. Ask the construction industry. Ask the engineering sector. Ask the alternative energy sector.

The Treasury’s deliberate policy is not to utilise it.

Instead yet another £70bn of bank bailout costs are added to the burden to be carried by today’s and future British taxpayers.

Instead of making Starbucks, Amazon etc., pay more, the Chancellor cut corporation tax – to increase competition with other countries, and hasten a ‘global race’ to the bottom.

Instead of making London’s super-rich pay more in ‘mansion taxes’ the Chancellor chooses to cut benefits to the very poor.

This was not a budget statement. It was a cruel and defeatist political capitulation to despair.


2 thoughts on “Verdict on Autumn Statement 2012, part two”

  1. This “not a budget statement” is what we let the chancellor get away with!
    We don’t stop him.
    Until we are heard, change can’t begin to occur. It’s time to acknowledge
    that’s it’s in our hands whether or not we get heard.
    ‘The powers that be’, the chancellor, insist we believe it’s out of our hands.
    how could it be, when 400 strong hold power?
    As with just about everything in life, it boils down to a decision.
    Hillel: If I’m not for myself, who will be for me, if I am for myself alone,
    who am I, if not now, when?

  2. Osborne is engaged in class war from the top down. No matter how he dresses it up – a Comprehensive Spending Review, a Budget Deficit Reduction Plan, if the effects of those policies is to make the poor poorer then that is class war no matter what he does to the rich. The top 10% may be marginally worse off, but most can afford to cut back a little.

    Quite apart from the pathetically narrow ideological mainstream economics of Osborne and the other parties, this is not just an economic and political problem but a longer term cultural shift. So many people think of themselves as middle class and ‘don’t do class war’ that they seem incapable of recognising when it is done to them. I don’t think he would have got away with it during the 1960s and 1970s. But 30 years of neo-liberal economics seems to have dulled people’s brains and their ability to think collectively rather than as individual consumers. Thatcher’s plan summed up in her ‘Ecomomics is the method, the aim is to change the soul’ seems to have worked (Stalin would be proud of the sentiment).

    We’re stuffed until middle England is sufficiently financially hurt to fight back. I’m not going to hold my breath as historically there has always been a masochistic tendency amongst the population who will suffer and think austerity is a good thing. Merry Christmas!

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