Look Left – The autumn statement, the failing chancellor, and the NHS

Shamik Das looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.

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• George Osborne delivered his autumn statement yesterday – with cuts, pain and ever more austerity the order of the day.

And once again, it was the poorest who bore the biggest brunt, as this chart shows. The distributional impact of the measures announced yesterday shows the top ten per cent fare better than the bottom 40 per cent. The raising of the personal allowance is just one example of a measure where the benefits are felt higher up the income scale, as this chart shows.

As IPPR’s Kayte Lawton points out on Left Foot Forward today, affordable childcare rather than tax cuts would better help families – not that anyone should be holding their breath; as Alison Garnham of the Child Poverty Action Group wrote on Left Foot Forward, the chancellor did not make a single reference to child poverty, which will be made worse by his cuts to benefits, plunging more and more families into poverty than ever before. In the UK. On the eve of 2013.

• We’ve more on George Osborne’s autumn statement in the following articles on Left Foot Forward: 

Watch Ed Balls mock the chancellor’s many u-turns (and we’ve got more details of the u-turns on Cameron’s Corkers); the impact on cities; political reaction from across the country; how the OBR is still betting on booming fixed investment to boost long-run growth; the never-ending rise in borrowing; what it means for transport; and the dire need for Osborne to adopt a new fiscal rule. And on the environmental impacts, see our reports on how Osborne’s dash for gas is dashing hopes for growth, and will worsen fuel poverty.

Bad for the enivornment, bad for the economy, bad for those out of work, bad for those in work – and there’s still two-and-a-half years of Osbornomics to go…

• The UK Statistics Authority confirmed what everyone knew this week – that real terms NHS spending is down under the Tories.

In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, UKSA chair Andrew Dilnot queried their claims “real-terms spending on the NHS has increased across the country” and “we have increased the NHS budget in real terms in each of the last two years”, concluding “expenditure on the NHS in real terms was lower in 2011-12 than it was in 2009-10”. Ouch.

For more on the UKSA slapping down of David “The NHS is safe in our hands” Cameron, see our report here, and see here for our report on the latest from the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital.

Progressive of the Week

Tony Blair, who this week sought once again to get the faltering peace process back on track, using an interview with MSNBC to paint a vision of hope and optimism amidst the despair, citing Northern Ireland as an example of what can be achieved. The three lessons from NI, he said, were: first, “you’ve got to give it shape, in other words you don’t just let them wander off”; second “you have to calm the violence, you can never negotiate if there’s active violence going on”; and third, “you just don’t give up, because you can’t”.

See the interview in full here, and read our report on the latest row between Israel and Palestine over the E-1 settlement here.

Regressives of the Week

The Leveson-haters, who have been lining up since last Thursday to denounce the report into press standards and its recommendations. Check out our reports here and here on why Leveson’s main thrust is right, and action must be taken.

Freedom of the press to do and print whatever they want is not the same as freedom of speech; indeed, at their worst, the press trample over other freedoms – the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, the right not to have one’s phone hacked…

Evidence of the Week

The latest monthly Markit/CIPS survey of purchasing managers in the manufacturing industry, published on the eve of the autumn statement, that revealed demand remains subdued and manufacturing in decline, concluding any possibility of recovery remains sluggish following the nine straight months of recession.

See our report here for more.

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