Someone explain democracy to me again… I missed it the first time…

June 26, 2010

If the public finances are in this bad a state then we need to discuss why.

If  every time someone tries to discuss it- the response is  ‘Labour left it worse than we thought’- they should probably ensure that the treasury and the Institute of Fiscal Studies change the figures they publish to show that.

Cos so far- they don’t.

If you say that because of this problem, you are going to remove the ability of working people to pay for their home, regardless of how much they work- and you feel it is justified, you should say so.

If you feel that any woman who has a child with a man, should be left in poverty if she separates from him- and her only route out should be a new relationship- then say so.

Public debate. Is fine, that’s democracy right? If that is what people want- hey ho.

When you lie about what you are doing, when you call the people you hurt scroungers, and you refuse to debate actions which will have consequences for millions of people, and base it on advice from a nutters like the Centre for Social Justice,  in the face of an entire body of social policy research, you are on dodgy ground.

If you want people to ignore a global economic crisis, which may be far from over- then fine. Say so. You don’t mention the £1460billion in personal debt, or the still overvalued housing market, the fact we don’t produce anything, or the fact that countries across the western world are having the same problem, caused by the same people.

You don’t get to the deny that debate to the people who vote, and who are affected, and then blame it on them.

If you want to cut back essential public services, make people homeless, jobless-= then do so, and say you are doing it.

Do not pretend that those people were not doing the job they were asked to do by the government, or imply that it is their own fault that they will be made jobless and homeless.

If you are going to make millions of people unemployed- you do not then make being unemployed a crime, which results in you losing your home, you job, and your life. And you certainly don’t call it incentivising work.

If you think anyone who receives state support is a scrounger, you should really tell them BEFORE they vote for you.

You certainly do not do this- and then mount an entire budget on the idea that the people who will pay for this, are those who caused it. Am fairly sure ‘Big Society’ was about the state not being necessary- because this ‘big society’ was going to take over. How precisely does pushing people out of their communities and  making sure they are seen as morally lacking and undeserving, tally with that?

Nick Clegg’s pretense that he was a third choice during the election, robbed us of our chance to debate the seriousness of our economic situation. As has the refusal of Labour to acknowledge their mistakes in deregulating, and not being stringent enough when handing over the bail out.

If Labour had been open about the scale of these mistakes- perhaps then we could have had a debate about why we deregulated our financial sector to the point where we have personal private debt of more than our GDP, and a public balance sheet sinking under the weight of the private debt it has already accomodated.

Perhaps the debate that ensued could have been an informed one- one where the public understood what had happened- and why this recession was different to the upteen recessions that built up to it.

Perhaps the Conservative party would have been forced to address the fact that the economic policies that allowed this, were shared by them. Instead of just being allowed to try and fix it using the same assumptions, and the same ideaology.

All in all though- noone will do this. The people paying are public service leeches and benefit scroungers.

We can’t see past a ridiculously small political cycle when we are in the midst of a global economic crisis, and even if we did, we have no opportunity to debate it. There is no political will on any side for this. There never has been.  We have the memories of golfishes, and are watching politicians look at the sky asking the market that brought us here, what it wants us to hand over next.

Here is a piece of advice to those reading. Get past the political cycle. It is a sideshow. We are in a global economy- and we have messed up on a grand scale. We need to figure out where we messed up- but until we are actually allowed to debate it- we are watching our public purse being turned over to private hands. And we really need to assess whether the hiccup we are experiencing, is as bad as it can get. Because we still don’t produce anything, our sub prime market never really popped, and our credit bubble and property bubble are both intact. And when that public purse is gone-here is hoping that those things don’t prove to be a bigger threat than the deficit.

We need to ask ourselves what is the role of a national government in a global economy? Is it to protect corporate interests, or the interests of voters? They are not the same thing-not by any measure. Is there any mechanism in a global economy, to force a company to protect national interests?

If you add up bank bailouts worldwide, we have poured trillions and trillions and trillions into their coffers- and they don’t appear to have addressed any of what was wrong yet. In fact they are actively resisting countries trying to bring them to account and are much too big for governments to to do so. If a government can’t bring them to account, and their actions can leave entire continents in dissarray- isn’t there a problem?

Because if we are going to have a complete market economy- then I want to know the market will provide. If the nature of a global economy is that there is no incentive for companies to do this- then I want someone else to be doing it.

When our taxes are purely subsisiding oil wars and banks- where is the incentive to pay them? If I want to subsiside a company in market economy, I CHOOSE to buy their products, with my money. Not really what taxation was for.

I want a government that will protect me, not an admin arm of Goldman Sachs, because as far as I knew- I didn’t vote for anyone at Goldman Sachs.



  1. Hello Lisa,

    Firstly Happy blog-Birthday!Secondly, reading the above, would it be okay if I recommended your blog to my economics students?I try to get them to read blogs that are about the *effects* of economics as well as the subject itself-and this is an outstanding example.

    Have also posted a comment under ‘The Budget & Me’.As single parent myself, have spent the last few days feeling alternately angry and sick…

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa, Help the bumble bee, paulstpancras, John Turner, R Gordon and others. R Gordon said: more about the budget from @lisaansell http://bit.ly/9qxXOP […]

  3. Interesting post. It made our Weekend Reading Blogosphere Picks.


    • Yay!

  4. Excellent blog Lisa. Think we’re all feeling a bit impotent at the moment. And if we feel that way, God knows how the young are going to feel at the way politicians are letting them down.

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