Austerity looks here to stay.

Here we go, the end of a week that was supposed to be Boris Johnson’s great reset. How has this week been for the government? Well, it should have been catastrophic but lack of competent opposition means they’re riding high after rehashing green policy and stealing Corbyn’s marketing, while spaffing copious amounts of money at laser technology and quietly slashing public sector wages, because they can.

The green industrial revolution and military boost were both meant to be centrepiece announcements before Johnson promptly went into isolation. Both speak to the needs and wants of the warring segments of the fragile Conservative coalition of 2019, and have attracted favourable media coverage, alongside praise from their backbenchers across ideological lines.

The Tories have distracted everyone from the chaos over which they preside with big shiny (surface deep) announcements, that steal Labour’s clothes on the environment while appearing tough and strong on national security. All while this happens, austerity returns through the back door.

The Tories never really wanted to end austerity; it was always their own pet project of dismantling, privatizing, and fragmenting the British state to which they’ve been pledged since the 80s, not an economic necessity as they sold to the country. But since Labour under Corbyn defeated austerity in the realm of ideas (something, if done sooner, that would have made Ed Miliband PM) Johnson’s Tories accepted to new consensus and shifted left in certain fields on economics; turning on the spending taps.

The return of Keynesianism was not to be, alas. The pandemic, and resulting accumulation of debt, have handed Rishi Sunak and his dear rightwing think tanks a heaven sent opportunity.

Once again, they’re going to backtrack on their word, and implement austerity through the backdoor, just when we thought it would slowly recede. They’re going to use the pandemic to implement an ideology. Public sector pay freezes coming back is a spit in the face of everyone who’s worked so hard and put themselves at risk to keep this country ticking during lockdown. Councils are going bankrupt, and vital services aren’t getting what they need.

Behind the big ticket items on their agenda, with splashing of the cash on flashy announcements, the Tories are letting our core social infrastructure, the stuff we don’t get the big announcements on, rot and die.
The worst part? They may yet get away with it.

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Toby Lipatti-Mesme

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Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.