“It’s the economy, stupid”, an election team manager told a certain US presidential candidate in the1990s. That candidate won the election. Today, in CV-19 ravaged Britain, expect ‘The Economy’ to replace ‘Teh Science’, not least because, finally, Labour politicians are feeling encouraged to sing their same old song. They didn’t have the courage to question ‘Teh Science’ but are happy to revert to their tired demands and slogans.
Yesterday, Mr Sunak promised to keep state money (our taxes) flowing to all those furloughed people – until October, but employers will be asked to take up some of that burden when they’re going back to work. Is the government preparing to keep us locked down until autumn?
Today we read in the DT that there’s a ‘Treasury Blueprint’. It seems some Mandarins are now back at work – from home, naturally – since the weather has become a bit too cold to enjoy their private gardens. Thus a ‘source’ has been able to leak said blueprint. I don’t imagine for a moment that DT writers crept around the empty Treasury building to check the wastepaper baskets or even the safes …
Predictably, that blueprint is about how best to squeeze the necessary CV-19 funding from us peasants. Apparently, they’re going to raise taxes – who’da thunk! See this:
“A Treasury document drawn up for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, […] dated May 5 and marked “Official – market sensitive”, reveals that the “base case scenario” now forecasts that Britain will have a £337 billion budget deficit this year, compared to the forecast £55 billion in March’s Budget. It says tax rises and spending cuts which would raise between £25 billion and £30 billion – equivalent to a 5p increase in the basic rate of income tax – would be needed to fund the increased debt, […]” (link)
It won’t have escaped your notice that at the time of the March budget the CV-19 was still only an ‘epidemic’, according to the WHO – and that government was obviously not thinking about a Lockdown.
Well, we all knew that tax rises would be on the menu. One of their proposals though takes the proverbial – here’s a direct Mandarin quote:
“We should also look at opportunities for new taxes that could meet some of the Government’s broader policy objectives, raising revenue to relieve long-term fiscal pressures (eg an NHS/social care surcharge or new carbon/green taxes). A 1 per cent increase in the basic rate of income tax would raise around £5 billion p.a.” Mr Sunak is also advised that there are “further options to address the challenge through spending and welfare” reductions. The document suggests a two-year freeze on public sector pay could generate savings of £6.5 billion by 2023-24 while “stopping the rising cost” of the pension triple lock would produce savings of £8 billion a year.” (link)
Aaand – there it is: ‘green’ surcharges! Make the peasants pay more for their fuel bills, never mind that many will still have to work from home in that “New Normal”, paying themselves for extra electricity to run their PCs. Make the peasants who can’t work from hom pay more for petrol – they can walk or cycle, as the PM told them to. Here’s an extra special Treasury warning:
“The Treasury document warns ministers that, if Britain’s economy does not recover soon, the country could be thrown into a 1976-style “sovereign debt crisis”, a situation that led to an international bailout.” (link)
Have those brilliant minds at the Treasury not noticed that, unlike in 1976, the rest of the world is in precisely the same state of economic downturn thanks to their CV-19 Lockdowns? Perhaps they assume that Trade Unions will now flex their muscles even more and create an ‘Autumn of Discontent’, helping Starmer get into No 10? Labour, having seen the DT article from which I’ve quoted above, are already back to their ‘Old Normal’:
“Labour has urged the Government to reject public sector spending cuts as a way of paying off the cost of the coronavirus crisis […] Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “A lack of resilience in our public services, caused by 10 years of underfunding, has made it harder to deal with the challenge of coronavirus. After all our public services and key workers have done to save lives during this pandemic, there must be no return to a society where we lack that resilience.” (link)
Aaand – we’re back to “Toreee Austeriteeee”. How predictable. It’s interesting though that Labour doesn’t say a word about the proposed reduction in pensions for the elderly. I expect that the current gentle compassion for all the oldies will vanish in a puff of smoke once economic reality bites.
I also note that neither Mandarins nor Labour ask for a haircut on the obscene salaries paid to all those top managers in the NHS, in PHE, in other quangos and NGOs. Neither do they mention the money we shell out for HS2 or in Foreign Aid. Remember also that these are the people who want us to stay in the EU, or at the very least extend the transition period and never mind the extra billions in Danegeld this would cost us.
Labour politicians are now also feeling relieved that they can contribute to the CV-19 debate without getting into the jungle of ONS data and all that jazz. It’s because the North West has suddenly become ‘a hotspot’ – because there are more people living in ‘deprived’ communities in the NW than in London. ‘Tis funny though how being a Labour Mayor enables one to pontificate about CV-19! It is of course not about ‘Teh Science’ but about money:
“It’s so breathtakingly obvious that there is a serious correlation between deprivation, poverty and mortality rates,” Mr Anderson [Lab Mayor of Liverpool] said. “We’ve got four out of every ten people living in poverty in some parts of Liverpool — we have a serious issue with deprivation and when you slash public health funding it is no wonder that you end up with high mortality rates.” The second tranche of Covid-19 funding for Liverpool marked a 35 per cent reduction from the first, which Mr Anderson claimed was “an insult and a slap in the face to the most deprived areas”.” (link, paywalled)
I can already hear Labour screeching that “Toree Austeriteee” is to blame for CV-19 deaths, especially those of “The Poor”. We can now add the newly-found Labour ‘science nous’ to that Labour ‘economic nous’ – non-existent, as we’ve seen during the reign of a certain Mr G. Brown both as Chancellor and then as PM.
The Times has an interesting editorial where they dare to take a look at the private sector – the sector which produces the income for the Treasury and all those Labour ‘goodies’:
“Just as the public health advice has inevitably become more nuanced in the second phase of the pandemic response, so too a more targeted economic approach will be needed. The focus of government support needs to shift towards measures to help businesses adapt and to help those who become unemployed find new jobs and training. For Mr Sunak, getting that shift right is going to be a formidable political as well as economic challenge.” (link, paywalled)
Unless there’s a secret forest of money trees in the Treasury garden, it’ll be us taxpayers who will have to shell out for businesses, for public sector employees, for Greenery.
There are some other Lockdown inanities I’ll mention in passing, such as the Welsh First Minister (Labour, of course) telling us that in Wales face masks are not obligatory. Before you rush across the Severn Bridge, looking forward to breathing fresh Welsh air: forget it. Mr Drakeford sez that you’re not wanted in Wales … (link, paywalled).
The Teachers’ trade union meanwhile will be happy to hear that schools in Wales won’t open on June 1st. They can now concentrate on England. You have to read their gripe yourselves:
“Teachers are heading for a clash with the government over the reopening of primary schools in England on June 1 after their biggest union ordered them not to “engage” with the planning process. The National Education Union (NEU) said it was unconvinced that there was any scientific basis behind government guidance issued yesterday that teachers did not need PPE equipment to keep them safe. The union said it needed to see the scientific backing for recommending that social distancing rules, considered crucial to stopping the spread of the virus, did not have to be followed in schools as long as class sizes were small and stringent hygiene was followed.” (link, paywalled)
Obviously, all those teachers on their secure salaries during the Lockdown were incapable of finding that information themselves – no wonder they couldn’t do ‘remote teaching’! It’s astounding though that these Trade Union representatives want their hand held by the Toreee government rather than do their own work/research, unlike us plebs.
And finally, today’s top inanity comes from wimmin. According to a DT editor (f), only a government team ‘devoid of women’ could have produced Johnson’s Lockdown exit plan:
“Women swiftly came to the conclusion that such an omnishambles of a plan, full of blind spots and obvious pitfalls, could only have been drafted by men. As one working mother texted me after Mr Johnson’s TV address, which left more questions than it answered: “Does this Government think the only people who go to work are men with stay-at-home wives?” (paywalled link)
Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Is that editor, are these wimmin not aware that there are lots of females working in Whitehall, the place where this document was created? Do these brave wimmin want their hands held by government, ahem: ‘The Patriarchy’?
Perhaps these wimmin better have a word with the Teachers trade union who is ‘protecting’ the 60.5% women teachers, telling them to stay at home, thus forcing other wimmin to do the same. And perhaps, just perhaps, they might think about the scientific fact that more men have died of CV-19: their gramps, their husbands, their brothers …
Keep vigilant, prepare for thunderstorms – economic, scientific, weather-wise – and