Research from LSE has found that the chancellor's policies have seen the poorest five per cent lose income while the top one per cent have gained.
Research from LSE has found that the chancellor’s policies have seen the poorest five per cent lose income while the top one per cent have gained
If you went into hospital with sickness, you’d hope to be given the treatment that would help nurse you back to full health.
The last thing you’d expect would be for your doctor to turn round and say “we know what’s causing your symptoms and we can cure it but we’re going to keep hold the medicines – see if you can stave off the illness by yourself.”
You’d be incandescent if you then discovered that the reason the doctors were hoarding away the drugs was so they could pass them on to their friend in the private bay next door – even though that meant they were receiving several times the dose they needed.
Be thankful then that George Osborne isn’t your family doctor. Because when he stood up today to give his Autumn statement he wasn’t prescribing the medicine our economy needs to get it back on its feet.
‘Dr’ Osborne was playing a political game – using alarming talk about the economy to frighten voters into clinging to him and Nurse Cameron whilst he continues to shuffle the financial deck to favour his friends in the city, putting their interests above those of the rest of us.
Of course Mr Osborne has never been one to stick to his economic Hippocratic Oath. The cuts he has introduced have not worked even in their own terms (for tackling the deficit) – instead they have led to falling real wages, lengthening queues at food banks, rising poverty, and increasing inequality.
Osborne’s economic policies have been deliberately designed to shift money from the poorest to the richest. Whilst many continue to struggle on low wages, Osborne has had the audacity to introduce a tax cut for millionaires.
Research from the London School of Economics has found that the changes our chancellor has introduced to benefits and income tax have seen the poorest five per cent lose income while the top one per cent have gained.
Overall, money has shifted from the bottom half to the top. Osborne would make a bad doctor but fits quite well in the role of Sheriff of Nottingham.
Today he showed no sign of shame, no hint that he’d be prepared to turn on the tap and allow money to drip back down to those most in need. His investment in road building will do nothing to support those who rely on our ailing public transport network.
He has committed the country to a further £48bn worth of cuts – not the spending on warm, comfortable, affordable-to-heat homes that so many are struggling along without.
And by trying to lock any future government into a commitment to eliminate the structural deficit by 2017/18 (something he has spectacularly failed to do) he has found a way to continue to try to exercise his dark magic, whether he holds the key to the public purse after May 2015 or not.
Balancing the books is a matter of choosing your priorities. The priorities of the Green Party and the Coalition are poles apart and had we been delivering the Autumn statement today, the actions would have been very different.
We believe that in a wealthy nation such as ours, no one should have to go without decent pay and decent benefits: it’s a moral outrage that whilst average wages continue to fall, the average pay of the FTSE 100 directors has grown by 21 per cent in the past year.
We would rebalance and redistribute so that everyone gets a fair slice of the pie, while we all move to living within the environmental limits of one planet.
We would introduce a Wealth Tax on the top 1 per cent (those worth more than £3 million) to ensure they pay their fair share back to society, providing us with up to £43 billion with which to invest in our economy.
We would make the minimum wage a Living Wage so that jobs pay enough to build a life around. We would ensure that the CEO doesn’t get more than ten times the wages of the office cleaner.
Our message is simple: if you don’t like the treatment you’re getting from your current doctor, it’s time to consider making a change. The Green Party believes in doing things differently. We can build an economy that works for all within our environmental limits – in fact, that’s the only type of economy we should be aiming for.
Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.