Robbed by George Osborne… while the royals play decoy


Original post from The Guardian

‘…………….By 

The chancellor is applauded while the poor get poorer, and Glasgow names its new hospital after Her Majesty. Enough said

 'Bread and circuses': Prince William and family after the christening of Princess Charlotte last week. Photograph: Mario Testino/Art Partner via Ge
‘Bread and circuses’: Prince William and family after the christening of Princess Charlotte last week. Photograph: Mario Testino/Art Partner via Ge

Each time you think the gas that has anaesthetised British working people for generations is about to wear off, the Tories find a new vein of naivety and we all duly return to our slumbers. To observe the reverence and veneration with which the first Tory budget for 19 years was received on Wednesday, you’d have thought that George Osborne had pledged personally to tour the UK’s edgier arrondissements handing out a free Curly Wurly to every street urchin.

There was something for everyone in this one nation budget for working people, trilled the Oxbridge lickspittles, working hard for the cause in the London commentariat. It was left to the Institute for Fiscal Studies to intervene two days later to attempt to lift the scales from our eyes. IFS director Paul Johnson said: “The changes overall are regressive – taking much more from poorer households than richer ones.”

This year’s sleight-of-hand to keep us all moving along peacefully in line was Osborne’s rebranding of the minimum wage as a national living wage at £7.20 an hour. The Living Wage Foundation already calculates a proper living wage at £7.85 outside London, while the losses that millions of families will experience through cuts to their tax credits utterly negate the effect of those few crumbs from the chancellor’s table.

Stitched into the fabric of this budget was an old, familiar pattern: dozens of little impositions on the worst-off in our society and the ringfencing of the privileges and advantages that ensure the UK remains among the most unequal societies in the developed world, according to Oxfam. More than 13 million families will lose £260 a year, while 3 million families will lose around £1,000 a year, mainly owing to the cut in what workers can earn before they qualify for universal tax credits.

In such small and wicked ways are the ramparts of the old social order reinforced. In the same week, we were reminded how familiar Osborne is with the way tax laws can work for those at the top of society. Earlier in the week, Channel 4 revealed that his family business pocketed £6m in a property deal with a developer based in a tax haven.

Bang on cue was the release of the latest pictures of a royal baby, Charlotte, the progeny of William and Kate. We’ve had Kate pregnant; Kate with the new baby, pictures of the new baby on her own; pictures of her with her big brother and now the christening. The latter were just charming enough to avert the eyes of some of the masses from the raid on their household incomes. The role of the royal family in recent years has come to resemble that of useful idiots to the British establishment. The fecundity of this otherwise unremarkable and dysfunctional clan of underachievers has provided decades of marriages, children and jubilees, which the real ruling class deploys to make the rest of us think that this must be the natural order of things.

The handmaidens of this royal bread and circuses act are the British army. Thus multitudes of the youngest and bravest from our poorest communities are routinely sacrificed in somebody else’s tawdry little war to ensure that Big British Business keeps the profits up. As an added knee to the groin, we confer pantomime commissions in the armed forces for the royals, even though most of them will have only seen action cowering behind rocks on a shooting estate, slaughtering Scotland’s wild beasties from safe distances.

That many of these businesses routinely avoid paying corporation tax and, as theGuardian reported last week, are still handed £93bn in grants and hidden subsidies is simply further evidence of why Britain has one of the most deferential, meek and supine citizenries in the world. While most of Europe has experienced revolutions and other social convulsions, we and our ancestors have dutifully fought in the wars of empire and avarice and have our tummies tickled by the insincere smiles of a Walt Disney royal family.

Once, for a few golden decades, we had a Labour party that intervened to ensure working people might have a few of the benefits that had been the exclusive entitlements of the aristocracy: good health, decent homes, proper wages and a solid education. That party no longer exists and the final proof of its demise was written in Osborne’s budget. That some of Labour’s big ideas for alleviating austerity and inequality found their way into the spending plans of this latterday Sheriff of Nottingham tells us all we need to know of the extent of the harrowing of Labour. How radical can your plans be if they’re acceptable to George Osborne?

Furthermore, it confirms what many of us have long suspected: that the anatomy and matrixes of power in England evolve in the drinking clubs of Oxford and Cambridge. There, some are chosen to represent Conservatism and asked to uphold ancient privileges and the writ of the free market, while others are asked to represent Labour and to ensure that the workers don’t get too many ideas above themselves and that a semblance of democracy is maintained.

In Scotland, it seems, deference and knowing your place in the old order of things remain endemic. Even when something approaching a significant political upheaval occurs, there are reminders of how tough it will always be to effect real and radical change. Thus, when Scotland’s newest and biggest super-hospital, the South Glasgow University Hospital, was completed last year at a cost of £842m it was regarded as a glittering symbol of the egalitarian principles of the NHS. This was before its name was changed to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in honour of a woman with no connection to Glasgow and whose family, courtesy of we, the idiot taxpayers, will always be treated in the country’s most expensive private facilities.

George Osborne’s raid on the incomes of the poor will cause many more west of Scotland families to be treated at South Glasgow, yet none of them was consulted about the name change. It was simply decided and nodded through by the civil service mandarins whose job it is to ensure that Deference, Privilege and Entitlement will prevail, come what may.

 

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