A Socially Just Economy

The Budget Review: Smoke, Mirrors And Westminster Sabre Rattling.

It’s been 40 days since any text was posted in this blog.  So thanks to Wordathlon for her blog, ‘the opposite of war’ for helping with a beginning and stimulating this post.

Thinking about the opposite of war helped start to articulate a feeling.  A feeling concerning the need to sift through the loud voices, that are currently creating a clamour for war, to get to the heart of what is going on around us.

If we look behind the loud voices we might just see that the call at Westminster for our involvement in war in the middle-east is being used to hide another war, that’s the war that George Osborne has been waging on the people of Scotland.

The opposite of war, is a different type of war – is that confusing? How can the opposite of war be war? If we are to opposite military war  we have to have a war with our own fears. we have to choose to over come negativity with positive creativity.  We can oppose Military war with creative combat – we must employ creativity, humour and innovative thinking if we are to defeat the war mongers.

Creative combat is a different type of war where the imagination competes with an empty sheet of paper, a paint pallet or a piece of clay – to produce something positive.  So just like in the referendum we need to produce creative text, pictures, voices that set out another way of being.

The lack of text in this blog over the last month or so has not be due to a lack of imagination, a lack of paper or a lack of paint.   There has been plenty content that could be written about – the creative combat has concerned where to start with all that’s been going on in the world?

The key for those of us who wish to oppose the clamour for war is to find a way of critiquing the war mongers that make sense to other people and avoids coming across as patronising, ‘me too’-ing or moralising about the immoral.

The ‘list of the incomprehensible’ has grown long over the last 40 days.  The Paris murders; shooting at a planned parenthood clinic; attacks at a black lives matter event; the release of video evidence that shows another unarmed young black man being gunned down by police (and the police lying about it); the knee jerk attempts by politicians to punish refuges for the deeds of others or the shooting down of Russian planes by Turkey, the list is long, very long.

All these events are to be regretted, require to be mourned and need us to offer our support and deepest sorrows to those involved.  But, that’s not enough. We need to go further to indicate our disapproval by behaving in a different way – demonstrate our discontent by living extraordinary lives full of creativity, joy and song.

When living in the North of Ireland during the troubles, all we had to put against the dark days was our spirit.  We opposed fear and destruction with the ceilidhs, the music and the dancing.  We were damned sure we knew how to have a good time, to live life for its best. We had a different kind of song to confront the noise of violence.

Cameron, Osborne and the Blairites only no one way, whether it be political, military or economic violence, all they know is violence and negativity – we must chart another way.

Current world events are incomprehensible, incomprehensible violence that has no justification – as if violence ever has a justification.  The point that needs not get lost in all the noise is: violence and counter violence have no justification.

It is sick to use the trouble in the world such as the Paris bombings to try to get the public to condone Westminster’s lust for yet another war.  The peace process in South Africa and the North of Ireland did not come about as a result of bombing by planes.

Those that use these events to justify their own violent ends, that make war noises (yet they will never themselves go into combat), are no different in their lack of concern for civilian deaths as the perpetrators who committed the acts in Paris – neither group care how many civilians are killed.

Yet, most of those who committed the murders in Paris paid for their acts with their lives – the politicians that send young men to rain bombs down on innocent civilians rarely get out of there comfortable armchairs, limousines and suits.

There is something very cowardly about Cameron’s eyes at the moment – when he talks of needing to bomb overseas to keep us safe at home – there is a look in his eye that reminded me of the look of Tony Blaire before the Iraq war – he doesn’t care what we think he has already made his mind up.

The clamour for war, the clamour to unleash the war dogs and the clamour for war planes to bomb innocent children has reached a crescendo at Westminster.  A crescendo the main stream media has fuelled – a crescendo that, they would like us to think, we cannot resist.

Cameron has on his side this week a very one sided media tirade that launched in the press and television a myriad of one sided pro-war explosions on the public. Yet, this bombardment has failed to convince the people.  Only 40% of people think Cameron should be allowed to unleash the war planes. Yet, somehow this is reported in a perverse Westminster media as a majority for war.

Only could the state controlled BBC see such a figure as a majority.  In their haste to fulfil their role as drum beater in chief they announced the figure to the people assuming once again that the people will dance to their tune.

Not this time are we to fall for their game.  Not this time. – Not in our name.

There can be no sense to going to war when you have no idea who you are supporting or fighting, nor whether specific groups are your allies or enemies.  So what is really being hidden by the clamour for war?

The Tories remember the lessons of the Thatcher years.  They know that when you are unpopular for slashing public spending, dismantling services and attacking the poor; you need to start a war to stay in power.  Particularly, if your opposition leader is anti-war and half his cabinet are Blairites who don’t care how much blood they get on their hands.

So the common sense for Cameron in going to war has nothing to do with allies or enemies abroad.  Its a political tactic aimed at splitting the Labour Party at Westminster and obscuring our minds from troubles on the deficit front at home.

The clamour to go to an undefined war footing at Westminster has sought to and enabled the main stream media to hide the evidence that the pain of the unrelenting attack on public service funding has had no gain.

George’s game of smoke and mirrors goes on and the mainstream media again have failed to hold him to account for his failure to meet his own targets.

Within a day of the annual spending review the main stream media were back beating the war drums, ignoring the cuts announced in the budget review – as has aye been, the BBC are caught beating the war drums rather than questioning Osbornes economics

Just the same as the #indyref Osborne gets an easy ride from the BBC and other media stations that don’t challenge, on the day, the line that austerity is over.

The crescendo for war has sought to hide the political and economic war being waged on the Scottish people – it has sought to obscure the budget statement that told us that George Osborne after more than 5 years in office is currently borrowing this year 73.5 billion to cover his inadequacies.

For many years, pre-crash, it was accepted that a Westminster budget of 40% of national income was about right (this went up to 45% after the crash) – but George is determined to cut that to 36.5%.

The Scotland Economy Watch website (no friend of the SNP) put it very well:

Several UK newspapers today trumpet the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement yesterday as heralding the end of austerity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This web site tells us that George is seeking to be twice as Thatcherite as the Thatcher government.  Yes – think on this, George seeks to reduce public spending by 20% over a ten year period 2010-2020.  That’s twice as fast as anything thatcher ever did.  There is only one word for that – Zealot.

How Osborne is going to cut spending whilst spending funding more bombs and wars is difficult to imagine.  Even 12 billion of savings coming from the poor and disabled wont be enough to cover the cost of increase military spending over the next 5 years.

Over the next ten years, 178 billion is to be spent on equipment for wars, (18 billion extra alone is to be spent on fighter jets) and the cost of Trident  will be at least 167 billion over its life time (over 40 billion just to replace it).  Military spending, that’s no problem at all – ‘UkGov credit card? That will do nicely Sir – a no limit splurge of billions and billions’.

George’s cuts also mean that many of those UK tax collectors who live in Scotland and voted No in the #indyref (because they believed in the British state) have just found out their jobs are to go.

So, we are asked to endure Westminster inspired job losses in Scotland at a time when the Scottish economy is actually growing (2.7% over the year to the end of the 2nd quarter of 2015).  Yes, for all George’s jibes about oil – the Scottish economy keeps growing – much due to Scottish Government investment in big projects.

The lies of the No campaigned know no end.  The ‘safe pensions’ lies become more obvious day by day – numerous public sector pension funds are now under attack e.g. new staff  appointed in universities are to be started on a pension scheme with less benefits and existing university staff are soon to pay greater contributions per month to receive a cut in their monthly pension when they retire.  Pay more get less under Osborne (Student nurses have also found this out the hard way in England).

Similarly, the defence jobs for Scotland, (promised at the #indyref) have not materialised, the last of the steel jobs have gone and the BBC funding for Gaelic television is to be cut.

Is this what no voters voted for? War games, attacks on Scottish culture, attacks on pensions, attacks on Scots’ jobs and attacks on the poor and disabled – did No voters really vote for that?  Did they vote for a 5% cut (on top of previous cuts) in the Scottish Government’s budget?

The British Government say they have to cut public services and stick to austerity.  The Scottish budget will have been cut by 12.5% over the 10 years of Osborne’s rule.   Osborne claimed to have increased the capital spending grant for Scotland but his slight-of-hand sought to hide the reality that even by 2020 the budget for capital spending will be 600 million less in real terms than when Osborne took over.

As for Osborne’s attack on the Scottish renewables sector – did those wealthy Scots no voters who invested in renewable companies realise, when they voted No, that Osborne would cut the support to renewable energy to such an extent that some of the companies that they invested in are now going bust?

Did they realise that having taken his Sabre to solar power he would then turn it on carbon capture and abruptly halt this very Scottish of economic areas?

I distinctly remember the daily encounters with Edinburgh based wealthy male No voters who would shout down the women on our Yes stall with their loud, plummy and aggressive voices.  Insisting that we couldn’t build the renewable sector with out Osborne’s support.

Have they the intellect now to reflect on their behaviour, question their taken for granted assumptions and turn their scorn on Osborne?

Contrast the cut in public spending on renewables with the billions provided to military spending and also the billions that will go to the Chinese government to ensure they build an outrageously expensive nuclear power station at Hinckley Point.

At what point do we stop creating wars, spending billions on military equipment and find ways to live together in peace?  The greatest crime of Cameron, Osborne and co is that they have no strategy for how to economically, politically or militarily resolve the wars that are currently being waged.

They lack the intelligence, creativity and knowledge of how to promote peace.  Their lack of nous clearly demonstrates how poor the private education system in England is and always has been.

It is as if we have returned to the times of the first-world-war where chinless wonders from the fee paying school system in various countries had no other solution than to send thousands of people to their deaths day after day until there were around 38 million casualties, over 17 million killed (11 million military and about 7 million civilian) and 20 million wounded.

Wars cost lives – whether they are economic wars waged on the poor at home or military wars waged abroad in the sands of other countries.  Wars cost lives and we must find a way of stopping them and diverting military spending to growing an economy based on high quality jobs that improve rather than destroy people’s lives.