There was also, yet again, a complete absence of a fundamental reform to the banking system so that the causes of the 2008 crisis were addressed. We've been told how much more austerity we need and that this will fix the public spending problems which were a symptom of the banking crisis. Yet, there was a complete absence of any explanation of why the crash happened. Unless you buy the argument that the feckless poor did it. Unless you think that the banking collapse was just a bit of bad luck whilst the existence of the welfare state is a dangerous luxury that the rich can't really afford anymore if they are going to be able to trickle their wealth down to us.
We are promised a further £30 billion of cuts. Promised it by not just the Conservative Party but by Labour and the Lib Dems. UKIP are of course radically different. They will hold the feet of the Chancellor to the fire to ensure that he delivers the £30 billion cuts quickly.
This is not responsible economic management. It is ignoring the core problem of too much instability in a wildly uncontrolled free market. It is ignoring the issue of too little sustainable business resulting in the biggest ever deficit in the UK's balance of payments at 6% of GNP. It is failing to invest on the transformation that is required to deal with a low energy future. It is insisting on an out of date extremist ideology that the free market can solve every problem and government destroying.
What we actually need is a sensible balance of the free market doing what it is good at and local, national and international government doing its part efficiently. Running a properly integrated public railway system. Running a well resourced health system. Providing a proper welfare state safety net. Steering investment into critical areas such as research into new antibiotics, utilisation of solar technology, and energy efficient homes and products. Making sure producers pay the real cost of the impact of the products and services they supply and subsidising producers to adapt to a circular economy where we reduce the plastic waste mountain and re-cycle the vast majority of what we consume.
I was therefore overjoyed the read the common sense that came through in the Green Party's reaction to the budget. Since you are unlikely to be able to see much of the press statement on TV or in the newspaper, I thought it might be helpful if I included it here. This is what it says:
* Austerity is a failed political project
* We are not ‘all in this together’
* We need to see a radical departure away from the business-as-usual economics on display in today’s budget
* Tax breaks for oil and gas are ‘eye-watering’
People struggling to get by will find little cheer in the Coalition’s final budget, says the Green Party. Greens call for an immediate end to austerity-led economics and a rebalancing of the economy so that it works for the common good.
The Green Party is unashamed about its ambition to increase both government spending and taxation to help create a fairer, more sustainable society.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s budget announcement of £1.3 billion of tax cuts for North Sea oil and gas production with no new investment in renewables shows how out of touch this government is on climate change, says the Green Party, the only party truly committed to transitioning to a zero-carbon economy.
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:
“This final Coalition budget offers little hope to the many millions of people across Britain who are struggling to get by. Austerity economics has failed.
“Incomes are still lower than they were in 2010 (1), household debt is up (2) and inequality continues to plague this country. In the world’s sixth-biggest economy, people should not have to queue at food banks or work in insecure jobs that don’t pay enough to get by on.
“We need to see a radical departure away from the kind of business-as-usual economics on display in today’s budget. That means building an economy that works for the common good, an economy that pays people a Living Wage, protects our public services and invests in renewable technologies that cut fuel bills and help combat climate change.
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and the Green Party’s Economy spokesperson, said:
“This is an electioneering Budget from a Chancellor who puts politics above people.
“That Mr Osborne would have the nerve to suggest ‘we’re all in this together’ is astonishing and shows just how out of touch the Government is with those it’s supposed to serve. What typical Tory smoke and mirrors.
“No – we are most certainly not all in this together. Food bank use has rocketed. Hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs have been slashed. Zero-hours contacts are rising. Brutal cuts to services and welfare have hit the poor hardest – while the richest have seen their wealth rise.
“And all this while granting another eye-watering tax break, at public expense, to multinational oil and gas companies - and just weeks after a cross-party climate pledge. Investment in home-grown renewable technologies would mean more jobs and greater stability in the long term – the business case is incredibly compelling, and a just transition to a zero carbon economy is absolutely crucial to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South-West and the Green Party’s Finance spokesperson, said:
“We believe that austerity is a political project, designed to reinforce the power of financial and corporate elites, and achieve the long-held ambition of those on the right in politics of bringing about the shrinking of the state.
"What stands out in this budget is the huge tax breaks for the fossil fuel dinosaurs, which will drag us back from the cusp of a green energy revolution. This is a hugely wasted economic opportunity to drive the transition to a zero carbon economy. Now is the time to divest from fossil fuels not drive forward further exploration. We know that two thirds of the known fossil fuels must remain in the ground if we are to limit global warming to 2C.”