Autumn Statement 2015

To assist Comrade Osborne about dealing with his new-found comrades, I have brought him along Mao’s Little Red Book. — John McDonnell

Last weekend, at Beyond Austerity, John McDonnell said we would see a performance by George Osborne on Wednesday of smoke and mirrors and be hailed as a genius by the media. And was proved not far wrong.

Osborne would not only not phase in the cuts to tax credits, he would scrap altogether. This was welcomed by the braying donkeys behind him. The same braying donkeys that a few weeks earlier had welcomed cuts to tax credits and screamed constitutional crisis when these cuts were rejected by the House of Lords.

He was not going to cut police budgets.

Austerity has ended was the story peddled in the Daily Mail Thursday. Looking through their reporting, it bore little resemblance to reality, but then it rarely does. Does this matter? Yes, people can only make judgements, reach conclusion  on the information they receive. What if that information is wrong? Could it be Lord Rothermere, tax-dodging owner of the Daily Mail, is bending and twisting and spinning to serve his own ends?

George Osborne was able to perform this trick of smoke and mirrors because £27 billion had been found that he did not know about. If we look over the year, it is actually around £4 billion. Although it sounds a lot of money, and it is a lot of money, in terms of government spending or GDP, it is insignificant, and could almost be dismissed as statistical noise.

Where then did it come from? Different modelling of future tax receipts  and interest rates lower than forecast, thus reducing government borrowing.

It is not the end of austerity. The cuts to the poor will simply be transferred to Universal Credits.

Labour claimed the credit for the change in tax credits. The same Labour Party that prior to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader had supported austerity, supported cuts to welfare.

It was massive public opposition that forced the backing down on cuts to tax credits, plus Labour under Jeremy Corbyn and McDonnell played their part.

In terms of end to austerity, the Institute of Fiscal Spending has described as the deepest cuts since the end of the war.

Large corporations are sitting on a cash pile that could be as large as £750 billion. They are not investing. Without investment the country has no future.

Under Osborne, investment has dropped.

We are not investing in education. One of the cuts Osborne announced was an end to bursaries for student nurses.

I spoke with a Nepalese care worker, who works in a hospital. She told me of the scandal of agency workers who are earning 2-3 times what the regular nurses are earning (the agencies will be getting more). She said these are not to fill temporary shortfalls, such as illness, these are used for normal staffing. She had considered going to university, to train to be a nurse, but she said without a bursary, it was no longer an option.

No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know.

John McDonnell quoted from the Little Red Book, required reading when Chairman Mao was in power. The words were pertinent, but were lost on the morons in the House of Commons. Also of relevance was that it was from the Little Red Book.

Harold Macmillan accused Margaret Thatcher of selling off the family silver. George Osborne is selling off the family furniture for firewood.

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