The story is not the chancellor’s humiliating U-turn and eliminating the 45p tax rate cut for the rich. Given the mutinous mutterings over the weekend of Tory grandees (and Michael Gove) in Birmingham for their party conference, Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision today seemed unavoidable. However, mere minutes after his humiliating U-turn, Mr. Kwarteng hinted that additional cuts of up to £18 billion per year are on the way for ailing public services. The chancellor has said that department budgets would not be increased to account for growing inflation, a move that economists warn will have “extraordinary” ramifications for the health service, schools, and other public services. Mr. Kwarteng justified adhering to expenditure estimates for 2021 even though inflation is now twice the expected high of 4%. Keeping spending “inside the envelope of the CSR [the Comprehensive Spending Review]” is “a question of good practice,” he said earlier on BBC Radio 4.
We warned yesterday that if this government, based on the ideology of free markets, imposed more austerity measures, our public services would be decimated. The confirmation of the reduction to department budgets comes as the Treasury plans real-term benefit cuts to fund their enormous tax giveaway to the rich, which will continue despite the decision to maintain the 45p higher tax rate.
The public are now facing a triple whammy: a rising cost of living scandal; benefit cuts; and the degradation of public services that serve as a lifeline for those in need. The decision comes amid rising concern from experts about the record NHS patient backlog, ongoing school funding cuts, the social care crisis, and a significant backlog in the court system. This conservative government will continue to devise policies that reward their city friends rather than fix the problems facing hardworking people.
Events will continue to be used by this government as an excuse, making it appear as though the cabinet has no control over the policies it implements. Unless, of course, the decision soothes the party faithful. We’ve moved past the days of new Labour and burying bad news; this Conservative government refuses to take responsibility for any of its misguided policies. The chancellor would have the public think that the recent spike in mortgage rates is unrelated to his banker’s budget. Instead of taking responsibility for his unbudgeted statement, Mr. Kwarteng today pointed the finger at the increasing interest rates in Japan and the United States.
One budget (fiscal statement) down, and the economy is toast; conservative voters with mortgages now face an uncertain future, unsure if they will be able to make future payments.
Trussonomics was the most fleeting conservative economic strategy in history. There was not even a trickle of money for people in need. Thankfully, Ms Truss is no Margaret Thatcher. The bankers’ budget of tax cuts and a rush for growth has been returned to sender c/o Tufton Street.
We have seen significant harm done to public services over the last twelve years by this Conservative government, harm that will take decades to repair; we simply cannot afford to let them be mishandled by the Tories for another two years. Ms Truss speaks of building world-class public services funded by a high-growth economy. However, her plan has been an utter failure.
A plan that failed on day one of market scrutiny
The ideologues in the cabinet are not suited to modern politics. Those who deny global warming is happening, who defend the capitalist ruling class’s hegemonic authority, who celebrate empire, monarchy, and national pride, who push for more deregulation, who oppose labour unions, and who seek to impose more neoliberalism on our public services need to be gone. Ms Truss and her chancellor continue to experiment with the country’s economic well-being. No one, not even conservative voters, approved this economic plan.
The public interest is no longer being served by this political party.
Now is the time for an election.
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