John Clark writes…
First published: July 2013 – Gazette & Herald
Tony Blair moved the Labour Party to the right. It has stayed there. Cameron moved the Tories to the centre, got elected and then moved back to the right. The Liberal Democrats promised to change the way politics were done. They ditched all this for the chance of grabbing power and propping up the Tories. Labour has now completed the circle by saying they will not reverse any cuts unless they can make savings elsewhere. MPs are, in the words of the public, “all the same”.
The latest piece of vindictive brutality is extending the delay before claiming unemployment benefit. Job Seekers Allowance pays out the massive sum of £10 per day: so the government takes £31 away from low paid working people. This may not be much to a member of the cabinet on subsidised meals and alcohol and free 1st class rail travel. To the worker on the minimum wage it is massive. As all parties are on the right and not standing up for the poor, very little opposition is heard.
The present mess is not the fault of the benefit claimants, not the poor, not the low paid workers. The main cause is the greed and incompetence of the bankers. It is ludicrous to make the innocent suffer but go on rescuing, supporting and trusting the guilty. Money is printed, given to the banks and they are expected to lend to business. Which they don’t.
Instead of the government putting money into the banks and the banks not lending, how about a solution that ignores the banks? What would happen if the government ‘gave’ the money to local councils? These councils could build hundreds of thousands of ‘Affordable Houses’. Benefits would include:
- A larger number of families would have a new good quality environmentally sound home.
- A large number of building and allied trades would have contracts.
- Employment would be created for hundreds of thousands in the building industry. This is probably the hardest hit industry in the current recession.
- People on unemployment benefit would become people paying income tax.
- The British economy would grow by this amount.
This week the ConDem government extended the austerity programme to 2015/16. That’s 6 years and still counting. Paying off the debt from the Second World War took 60 years from 1946 to 2006. When that figure was at its worst in the late 1940’s Britain borrowed to invest in Council Houses, roads and the NHS. Borrowing was to invest in the future, not to pay off short term debts. Investments in affordable housing described above would be far preferable to the present downward spiral. Similar programmes could be developed for Renewable Energy, Care for the Elderly, Public Transport etc.
The ConDems will not do it. It does not fit their political philosophy. What is hard to believe is the lack of support for any alternative. The 1945 Labour Government believed in investing for the future. It worked then. It is needed now.