Friday, April 8, 2011

The battle is hotting up

And we have not even started yet. News of the Rally Against Debt is spreading through various blogs and articles. As was entirely predictable, so is the fury and hysteria on the other side.

Harry Cole on Total Politics writes that he will be joining and explains a few things much to the discontent of some of his readers:
Whether it was the more likely figure of 100,000, or the more ambitious quote of half a million that marched through London two weeks ago with the TUC, there is no denying it was good turnout. But how did they do it? The TUC spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on transport, advertising, staffing, promotional material etc. Most of this money came from the taxpayer, channelled through public-sector jobs and back into the union coffers through membership subs.

You can understand why they did it. The trade union movement is a lobbying firm as powerful and dangerous to democracy as big pharmaceutical protection agents and the infamous smoking and arms lobby. They are just as self-interested in protecting the financial interests and wallets of those who have a stake in them and will go out of their way to manipulate the media and the law to that means.

The March for an Alternative wasn’t an organic outpouring of anger that spilled on to the streets, but the end product of seven months’ work by a professional events company. And still they only managed to get less than 0.2% of the country to turn up. The spin and lines to come out of the event was that it was the true face and opinion of the British public, but this is complete rot. It was an assortment of public sector workers and students and those related to them. All dependent on seeing the status quo, and thus their interests, protected, even when it is a direct threat to the best interests of the rest of the population and the nation.
Indeed, let us not forget who paid for all that organization: that patient milch-cow, the taxpayer, and there is a good deal of unhappiness at the news that the patience is wearing very thin.

Toby Young writes about his intention to join the demo for a short time as he has family commitments on that day and describes a growing phenomenon: the nasty personal attacks aimed at anyone and everyone who has expressed support for the demonstration or intention to join. Apparently, all who do that, especially Toby Young, are worse than Nazis. (This is an argument I have experienced myself, being called a fascist for expressing the non-controversial opinion that there is nothing wrong in people buying or renting homes where they can afford it. After all, those of us who do not get housing benefits have to make decisions like that all the time.)

Mr Young, I am glad to say is unfazed by the insults and threats (exactly what have his looks to do with the whole issue?) or with the hysterical arguments about Britain entering a new dark age of poverty:
I can only assume that [Richard] Godwin doesn’t have the first clue about the scale of the cuts, which he describes as “reckless”, any more than he does about free schools. In 2010, the UK recorded general government net borrowing of £148.9 billion, which was equivalent to an unsustainable 10.2 per cent of GDP. The cuts began yesterday, on so-called “worse off Wednesday”, but in the past year public spending actually increased by several billion. In 2014-15, when the programme of cuts reaches its zenith, public spending is projected to be £648 billion in real terms compared to £669 billion in 2009-10. That’s a total cut of three per cent. (Cuts to spending on public services, if you compare 2014-15 to 2009-10, will be 12 per cent according to the IFS.) Fairly modest? Absolutely not.

According to Cath Elliott in today’s Guardian, these “ideological” cuts will mean “our valued public services being decimated beyond recognition”. So pegging public spending back to above the level it was at in 2008-09 (£640 billion), some 12 years after Labour was first elected and more than 50 per cent higher than it was in 1999-00, is going to decimate public services beyond recognition? What planet is she on? Elliott goes on to say that the Coalition is intent on “destroying the NHS”, apparently unaware that the Chancellor has committed the government to spending more on the NHS each year for the lifetime of this Parliament. In Elliott’s topsy turvy world, increasing government expenditure on a public service is tantamount to “destroying” it.
There is a good deal to be said for the argument that if something is not done about the debt, Britain will have to beg for a bail-out in the wake of the PIIGS. My argument with the way the government is going about the business is that there is no strategic or ideological thinking behind it.

The Richard Godwin Mr Young mentions is a man I described as an airhead hack but is, apparently, the Deputy Arts Editor of the Evening Standard. There's glory for you, as Humpty-Dumpty said.

I did see Mr Godwin's nauseating article in one of the Standard's frothy personal columns about everyone who intends to go on the Rally Against Debt being a creep: nasty journalists, supporters of the Taxpayers' Alliance and disgruntled UKIP types. So unlike the trustafarians who head up UK Uncut. I don't know for certain but I suspect that their mummies and daddies managed to tie up a good deal of their incomes in trusts to avoid taxes as much as possible. Nor does their care for the poor extend to the not particularly well paid cleaners who had to toil through the night to clear up the mess the spoilt brats left behind.

It is not just insults that are being thrown around but actual threats of violence against individual organizers of the demo and possibly against it as well, though my own suspicion is that those who issue threats in comments on articles and on Facebook are unlikely to budge out of their basements on the day. If these twerps knew anything about history they might find it slightly ironic that they are threatening violence on the streets against a peaceful demonstration with whose ideas they disagree and whom they call fascists. Ahem, who actually proclaimed and practised violence on the streets to suppress dissent?

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