Thursday 27 June 2013

This is the Worst Government Since Thatcher

No actually...... Its infinitely worse. Mrs Thatcher did have a North Sea Oil bonanza (which should have made the country rich, and a load of public assets (such as utility companies) to sell off. These acted as a buffer to prevent the true scale of the economic disaster she presided over to become apparent. Now that the family silver has all been sold off there is not even a fig leaf left to cover Osborne's embarrassment.
The blame for all this collapse is now being directed at the public sector, aided and abetted by the appalling Eric Pickles- probably the first ever Minister who volunteers for extra cuts for his sector. How he must hate Local Goverment.  
Lets get a few things straight.
1) The north east is not 'dependent' on public sector jobs. Many public sector jobs were transferred to the north east from London by previous Governments because it is cheaper in terms of office costs and ionterms of wages (since no London weightings). It was also considered an important tool in balancing the economy. Britian has a very London centric economy. This is not the fault of people in other parts of the country. It is the fault of successive Governments in not building effective infrastructure and transport networks to other parts of the country. Admittedly this is one area which the current Government is trying to address though it is too little too late.
2) The fact that some people WANT to work in the public sector should not be a bad thing. Public sector jobs include functions such as health and social care, sanitation and publci protection which are absolutely essential to a civilised society and a healthy economy. Look at the financial costs which individuals and businesses are currently suffering because of pot holed roads that councils simply cant afford to repair. Public service is not a luxury or a destination for the feckless. It includes some of the most important jobs in the country. BY their very definition all public services are essential. These functions were given to the public service because it was felt that they could not be left to the public sector. There was once a time in Britain when a fire truck would go past a burning building if it didn't have the right insurance certificate displayed on its front.  We should be pleased that good people want to go into public service. Our families' education and health are dependent on them.
3)  Osborne claims that private businesses are being starved of good workers because pay is more attractive in the public sector. This is not true. Many skills needed for public sector are not easily transferable to the private sector- they involve different skill sets.   
In my area of Northumberland we have lost a number of small and medium private sector businesses big and small in recent years. When interviewed in the local press the owners always cite the poor state of the economy as reasons for their demise. I have never read of any local businesses being unable to recruit people. There are not enough jobs to go round. The main effect of the slashing of the public sector in our region has been to deprive the local economy of purchasing power and reduce confidence in people to buy things. If your local Government job is currently under threat because of endless cutbacks stretching ahead then you are not going to feel confident to task out a loan on a new kitchen. My car has 120,000 miles on the clock- I don't feel sufficiently confident to buy a new one. I will run this one out till its ready for the scrappy.
4) Increments  for public sector workers are not unearned pay rises. They reflect the fact that as people mature in a job role the level of responsibility they are required to adopt increases with their experience. Normally when a public sector worker gets a promotion, the starting salary for their new role is not very much higher than what they were earning before. Only as they become experienced does their remuneration start to properly reflect their role. I am not opposed to performance related pay to reward above standard performance- but Osborne is proposing it just to save money at the expense of workers  who are NOT repsonsible for the mess we are in - while bankers (some of whom ought to be in jail) are still walking off with bonuses.
4) Labour is still allowing the Conservatives to dictate the agenda and their failure to respond to Osborne's agenda with an alternative will probably cost them the next election.
Austerity has failed. This is the conclusion in an article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. It advocates against the U.S. adopting austerity measures because they have failed in Europe.
Labour need to advocate a bold agenda for change, development and growth  and DARE to believe in a future of prosperity where workers private and public sector are all valued and given a fair dayus pay for a days work. A society which cares about supporting the most vulnerable and offering and good public services for all citizens.
I didn't like Blair's stance on the Iraq war or some of New Labour's policies around privatization of public services but at least he did promise- and deliver - increased prosperity.
If Labour are to become electable they will need to match his boldness and optimism.

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