The Plastic Hippo

October 18, 2015

Fiscal Chartists



In 1838, a small group of dangerous revolutionaries published an insurrectional call to arms with the sole aim of destroying the very fabric of British society. The so-called People`s Charter made outrageous demands including voting rights for all men aged above 21 and the ridiculous idea of a secret ballot. The whining lefties also claimed that that it was unfair that only wealthy landowners could stand for parliament and petulantly demanded democratic representation and payment in the unlikely event of some working-class peasant actually being elected as an MP. These traitors also issued an ultimatum insisting on constituencies of equal size and, astonishingly, annual general elections to hold MPs to account.

Faced with this patent nonsense, the government dealt with the obvious threat to national security by arresting and transporting the proto Marxists and by a firm but fair approach to the growing number of riots and insurrections, ordered thousands of troops and a variety of police forces into predominately working-class industrial areas that dared to stage peaceful protests. By 1848, the Chartist Movement had retreated back into its lifestyle choice of drudgery, poverty and squalid slum-dwelling.

Thank goodness those dark days of insurrection are far behind us and we can rejoice that the armed forces and the police are no longer employed as instruments of political ideology. The armed forces and the police have been so denuded that they need to have a whip round to put some diesel into the battle tank or riot van. The media are now far more restrained and would never descend into shrill name-calling, character assassination, scare mongering and lies based on the opinions of an individual proprietor or Director General. Mercifully, mobs of violent peasants no longer roam the streets, whipped up into a frenzy of hatred by dangerous extremists motivated only by the politics of envy. Instead, we have nice doctors, teachers, barristers and solicitors taking to the streets whipped up by extremist organisations such as the British Medical Association, the National Union of Teachers, the Bar Council and the Law Society. Thank goodness we have a Prime Minister and a Chancellor of the Exchequer that display incomparable wisdom and a profound understanding of the concerns and difficulties facing both the working-class and the middle-class.

George Osborne`s Fiscal Charter is undoubtedly a work of genius and an act of great courage in an effort to preserve national security. By comparing the economy of the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet to a simple household budget, the Chancellor is entirely correct in stating that we all have to live within our means. Unfortunately, some unpatriotic terrorists have suggested that no government since the signing of Magna Carta, and probably beyond, has ever operated a surplus. Other extremists claim that Mr Osborne has failed to grasp the basic premise of free market capitalism in that free market capitalism can only function due to the availability of credit. Strangely, even in these more enlightened times of fiscal responsibility; a simple household budget requires an understanding of a mortgage, a car finance arrangement, utility provision, a credit card and the promise to pay the bearer the sum of abject penury.

But be of good cheer as Osborne`s Fiscal Charter will mean that a Chancellor running up debt, deficit and borrowing will from now on be against the law. If those nasty Chartists were around today they might point out that by increasing debt, deficit and borrowing, George Osborne should be transported to Botany Bay. At least the Australian government know how to deal with felonious immigrants. But George is smarter than that. He has a clever caveat that states that a surplus must be achieved during “normal times”. Clearly, with David Cameron as Prime Minister and George Osborne as Chancellor given some of their more peculiar habits and with Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of the Opposition, these are far from normal times and so debt, deficit and borrowing will continue to go through the re-mortgaged unfixed roof regardless of rain or shine.

There are, unbelievably, treacherous Chartists wishing to excite terror and alarm by suggesting that Osborne`s financial liability initiative is nothing more than a huge political elephant trap to lure unwary simpletons into betraying themselves as unfit to govern by denying the existence of the deficit. We should heed the wise words of a former Shadow Chancellor speaking from the opposition benches in 2010;
“Fiscal responsibility acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public.”
He went on to say that he would oppose “this vacuous and irrelevant legislation.” That Shadow Chancellor was George Osborne who now mocks the current Shadow Chancellor for a u-turn on a fiscal responsibility act. It seems strange that Labour perform u-turns but Conservatives “reassess” or “reconsider” fuel duty, Cornish pasties, rail electrification, court charges, a rather dodgy deal with Saudi Arabia and the promise of tax credits to low-paid working families. The elephant has happily jumped into the trap but the hunter will need more than favourable headlines and a big stick to stop the elephant from climbing out.

Perhaps the moment of the week took place on BBC Question Time. During the usual mantra of “a sound economic recovery” and the inevitable “mess we inherited” narrative, a Tory minister was interrupted by a mother struggling to feed her children and struggling to pay her rent who had the courage to admit to voting Conservative on the promise of continued working tax credits. Angry and emotional, she had realised her mistake. Before the minister could respond, the host reminded the panel, the studio audience and the viewing public that the original question was about the chaos in the Labour Party. The concerns were ignored and the elephant got bigger as the room got smaller.

After signing endless and meaningless petitions and holding mass demonstrations that the government of the day rejected as seditious and inflammatory, the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884 placed into law most of the Chartists demands. Votes for women would have to wait and the gerrymandering of constituency boundary changes and the recall of corrupt MPs is still a work in progress.

It seems that the Chartists might be victorious after all.

1 Comment »

  1. I am puzzled as to why a political party that has always opposed government regulation would want to enshrine a Charter of any kind.

    Having examined the proposal, supporters of this lunacy (possibly including a man called Rob) need to carefully consider the words ‘normal times’.

    Unless my battered memory has finally failed me, normal times have always featured previously ‘unexpected’ turns of events. The Chancellor should be pressed to define his fiscal concept of normal times with a little more rigour. I would be happy with an oral description.

    While he is at it, perhaps he could also be asked to amplify his views on dream-reading, tarot cards, palmistry and tea-leaves. His idea of the difference between hope and aspiration, goals and targets and reality and fantasy would also benefit from further exploration.

    Its bad con but well spun. After all, in a fantasy world, what sort of political party would not sign up to a debt-free utopia, what sort of family would not like to live well and perhaps save something. What sort of voter would oppose such a concept?

    In the real world, the Chancellor is spending billions to irreversibly tie economic growth and infrastructure replacement to a regime that is diametrically opposed to democracy, abuses human rights and has wrecked what was left of the UK steel industry after McGregor, Mittal and Paul.

    At the same time, Gideon is busy arranging banquets, a procession through the streets of London and ‘questions are not allowed’ sessions in both Houses for the Chinese ‘President’ whose sibling attends Harvard.

    Meanwhile, steelworkers, police, local government, the NHS and the millions of people financially smacked by the tax credit debacle will no doubt applaud from behind the barricades.

    In China, this must be normal.

    So no problem.

    Comment by The Realist — October 20, 2015 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

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