Saturday, 9 March 2013

Osborne reveals the true face of Thatcherism

The gratifying vote by EU finance ministers to support caps on bankers' bonuses was all the more satisfying for being 26-1.  The single dissenter was that paragon of economic probity, George Osborne, who provides several pleasurable opportunities for swiping at the Tories every time that he opens his arrogant, mendacious mouth.

More pleasurably still, it came as the Swiss (outside the EU, but a model for the detached relationship fantasy clung to by the Tory right) voted in favour of similar legislation.  Apart from demonstrating the moral chasm that exists within the Conservative ranks, it is a stark reminder of the completely insane views that underpin our current economic direction.  The denial of responsibility and corporate obligation clashes wonderfully with the social poison being spread by welfare cuts and the refusal to exploit the current economic crisis to achieve shifts in both wealth distribution and the climate for infrastructure investment.

The myths that Osborne continues to subscribe to are pernicious and damaging.  On his narrative, the global economic crisis triggered by asset bubbles and unregulated banking was the sole responsibility of Gordon Brown.  Brown may be culpable through inaction, but in the face of global neo-liberal hegemony he was swimming against a tide.  Osborne has merely to ensure that the opportunities for private pillage of public wealth and the destruction of society are resumed with the minimum of fuss and a smokescreen that allows his cronies to escape obloquy.

Yet this is a totally hypocritical and falsely-reasoned position.  While the City and the banking classes squeal about being wealth-creators, the real wealth creation in terms of manufacturing and services bumps along the bottom of a Depression that could have been scripted as a fable against the neo-conservative paradigm at any time since the 1870s.  At best financial services can act as a catalyst to genuine economic benefit, but as has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of most rational observers, their perpetrators are only too happy to gamble, so long as it is other people's money.

What we see is an obscene inversion of morality.  Osborne and Boris defend the rights of the City to pay huge sums of money even as the economy flatlines, and as welfare cuts will hit across the country in a way that may trigger the worst social unrest since the Coalition came to power.  Older, wiser politicians (step forward Vince Cable and Ken Clarke) who have experienced the full grotesqueries of the 1970s and 1980s, call for infrastructure investment and boosting the country's capability, but are laughed out of court by Cameron, Osborne and all the other mini-Thatchers who believe in making a fast buck for themselves as the expense of the wider community.

About the only consolation is that this European intervention will prove difficult to argue against.  It is clear where the current Tory party views its interests to lie - as when they are kicked out I am sure that most of the trustafarians will scurry off back to the boardrooms where their ineptitude will be regarded as services rendered.  The Budget approaches, as does a spending review.  We shall see even more of the cant, hypocrisy and self-serving that are taking Britain back to the 1980s.

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