‘Great Britain is a good place to live if you are rich,’ said a Russian multi-millionaire in an Observer Magazine article. Great Britain is a great place to live in you’re searching for a tax haven to launder funds and your accountant advises you not to use the Cayman Islands, as it’s too risky. Great Britain is a great place to live if you have the right sort of parents to take up the slack if you don’t have either of these options.
Great Britain is not a bad place to live if you have a second home, own a house and have a steady income, or a job that pays substantially more than the median income.
Even those on the median income, dual income, Great Britain is swings and roundabouts.
Great Britain isn’t so great if you are poor. I guess that’s always been the case. We live in a fuck-you, throwaway, society. Poverty, ignorance, disease, squalor and ignorance, Beveridge’s five giants, once in retreat have all returned with the cosy glow of Thatcher past. Austerity does not mean less plum pudding for the poor. It means food banks and soup kitchen, sleeping on the streets and sanctions. It means a redistribution of income from the poor to the rich. It means the poor should hide themselves away below stairs and turn their faces to the wall when meeting their betters, as they were forced to do, in my grandparent’s generation. This is public face the younger generation sees day in day out, and if they’ve any sense, they will know they have no real choice and no real voice. It remains more probable than Aberdeen winning the Scottish Premier league this year, 2015 (and I’ll even throw in the next ten years, 2015-2025) if you are born poor, you will remain poor.
The Labour Party what is it for? It flung away the last election with stupid stunts such as matching the Tory public spending cuts carved in stone. (A throwback to Blair/Brown’s first two years in power). Will lose the next election. And the election afterwards. If there is any Labour Party to mop up after that it will be more unrecognisable as it often has been, most notably ganging up with the Tories in a ‘Better Together Campaign’ in Scotland.
The Conservative Party is the only game in town and don’t they know it. Austerity, austerity and more austerity. The message that has had more hits than Shang A Lang. Let’s play it again: a surplus on our country’s capital and current accounts are possible as long as we don’t have any poor people, spongers, sick people, criminals, asylum seekers, resident aliens, (but you are allowed a get out of jail card—as long as you are not actually in jail—to be elderly). The working poor need to doff their cap more, work longer hours for less money to increase productivity and compete with those abroad. That’s liberal orthodoxy. There are exceptions – those that went to the right public school, the right university and have the required sort of accent – those that would have us believe we’re all in it together.
Our Chancellor, George Osborne, seemed to miscalculate the numbers involved and the fuss he would cause with his attack on subsidising those in work, by paying tax credits, and then attempting to take the credit away. Only he didn’t. There’s no credit in that. His sterling work in renaming and re weighting child poverty to something else entirely didn’t kick up much of a public fuss. Osborne has several advisors all paid by the public purse. Fuck you as a philosophy seemed to work well in the case of kids, why not adults? It’s got nothing to do with me, was the general public’s response. And his efforts to delay government reports of who would be affected by tax-credit cuts were ineffectual because number crunching can be done on a laptop and charities are ahead of the game. A Chancellor U-turn, spinning on the finger of the House of Lords, is a once in a generation time-share option soon to be shut down and never seen again.
Ah, trade unions, remember them? Now we have apps and agencies. Neither pay much attention to what economists call externalities. By that we mean the infrastructure of society. Pensions, sick pay, holidays, the NHS, the state of our schools, the way that we get to work, the infrastructure involved. Public housing! Fuck you. If you need any of these then, really, you are beyond the pale.
Austerity, who would have it but poor. Who needs it? Not the rich, but it is a great fill-up to accumulating wealth. Profit warning: you’ve never had it so good. Public warning: you’ve never had it so bad. Public service, I remember then well.