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A British ‘fiscal conservative’ writes… July 14, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading this from Matthew D’Acona, the Guardian’s in-house Tory, I was struck by a line or two. Here they are… 

Corbyn’s continuing campaign needs to be no less ferociously focused. As a fiscal conservative, I have argued and continue to argue in favour of deficit reduction. But there is no doubt that in the word “austerity” he has found a shorthand for all the government’s failures – real and perceived. It now connotes much more than an economic strategy, evoking, as the phrase “winter of discontent” did for so many years, a much broader sense of unease. It’s society, stupid.

I’m tempted to ask ‘as a fiscal conservative, albeit one who thinks that society is important, or at least has some importance, what are your limits?’. Does he stand over under funding of libraries, education, public sector workers, and so on? Because one thing that strikes me after many many years of looking at these matters is that in capitalist societies it is either directly or indirectly the state which provides so much of the webbing that constitutes ‘society’. And this doesn’t have to be at all ‘political’ (albeit it is to the extent that everything is). It’s not that non-state, direct or indirect, societal activities don’t take place. Clearly they do. But a proactive state strengthens them – provides give in the system. And this has numerous knock on effects. Employment, social solidarity, but also, and crucially, an opening of space for all manner of entities – again some not at all connected to the state but able to function because – well, people have decent jobs, know that there may be a bit of funding here or support there that assists in getting organisations and groups up and running  have spare time, are able to devote some of that excess time back in to the society, – and in ways that they find interesting and rewarding. Sports, cultural activities, etc.

But this is obvious stuff. Still, what would his answer be?



1. Phil - July 14, 2017

Reminds me of 2010, when the Tories ran on a platform of deliberately starving the public sector on the basis that the gap would be filled by ordinary people being public-spirited and volunteering – the Big Society. What’s interesting about this was that it was entirely speculative – they couldn’t point to anywhere in the world where people actually had stepped up and volunteered in the kind of numbers and with the kind of level of commitment that would be required. And yet it was the only positive justification for what was otherwise quite plainly a hugely destructive course of action – and one that would, among much else, cut away at the roots of people’s actual capacity to be volunteers (in their adequately-funded spare time), as you say.

I was thinking earlier today that Boris Johnson reminds me of Slobodan Milosevic – an intelligent but cynical politician, knowingly unleashing massively destructive forces purely for the sake of his own career. I had thought that David Cameron was more of a Tony Blair type – the changes he makes may be destructive but he truly believes, deep down, and in the long term, when history judges, etc, etc. – but on reflection I think he goes in with Milosevic as well; I’m not sure how he can have believed in what he was doing, except in the sense of believing it was for the best for him and his circle.


WorldbyStorm - July 14, 2017



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