“The age of austerity is over”. So says Prime Minister
David Brent Theresa May. These words, delivered shortly after dancing onto the stage at the Conservative party conference were hailed as a new dawn, with much of the press leading with it the next day.
So you’re telling me that the NHS will be fully funded, schools will have the money to open every day, police will be restored to the streets and councils will no longer have to cut public services to the bone?
I’m guessing May’s next (2) step is to announce a 7.2% pay rise to people aged between 30-39 to bring their wages back to pre-crisis levels. Maybe she will just announce a 3.2% pay rise for everyone. Hopefully that will be enough to ensure that people with minimum wage jobs can afford to do things like live and eat.
Since the good times are back, I look forward to May’s government announcing major funding to combat the unacceptably high mortality rates for women in childbirth in the UK. Speaking of unacceptably high, now is as good a time as any to spend some money working out why so many boys are being excluded at such high rates at all stages of education.
How much does an independent inquiry cost? Because if the government, as May says “get it”, they will shortly be announcing an inquiry into Islamophobia into the party (You should do that one, Theresa. It would probably give you enough to get rid of Johnson – Ed). At the very least, they could nominate someone to stand for Mayor of London with a clean history when it comes to offensive remarks about Muslims (That, sadly, is beyond them – Ed).
My excitement at the shaking down of the magic money tree comes from the now inevitable completion of the “Northern Powerhouse”. It will probably come in about £40,000 over budget, but that’s unavoidable really [touches finger to ear piece] hold on a moment…
Lets move on.
The Universal Credit rollout will do a lot to end the use of foodbanks…
May’s speech was big on promises and light on detail. What does the end of austerity mean? Will there be funding for libraries, not just to halt closures, but to open new ones? The same question can be asked of the NHS, Legal Aid and the emergency services. It is absolutely not enough to return spending to pre-crash levels. I can imagine some accusing me of living in a fantasy land, with no understanding of how the economy works. Fair, but I share that with the majority of this country, including, it seems those in government. We live in a world where business owners like Jeff Bezos can be lauded for increasing minimum wages, whilst paying a pittance in taxes. And yet, if protesters were to threaten Amazon offices, it would be the police that would protect them, the same police that are directly impacted by companies like Amazon paying risible amounts of tax.
I understand that tax law is complicated. Is it too much to ask that May spend some of this post-austerity money on hiring people that can work out a way to tax giant corporations fairly? Call me soft, but I feel that big companies should pay their fair share. We wouldn’t want to accuse them of skiving after all…
May’s performance – and it was a performance – reminded me of something I wrote on these pages a few weeks ago:
Theresa May pledged to end austerity, in the same way she promised extra funding for the NHS (which, I’m obliged to point out has not been delivered). Promises bring hope and hope is good. However – and May, as a devout Christian should know this –
Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Before we rush to celebrate May’s rhetoric as some sort of elixir which erases the pain of the past 8 years, let us wait to see if she can deliver. If she doesn’t, no amount of dancing will save her from the wrath of the voters.