Let us now take Osborne apart

You have to hand it to Osborne, he’s managed to manufacture an entirely false story about the economy and get it accepted as the official narrative explaining what’s happened.   First he has tried to make out after 2010 that the financial crash in 2008-9 occurred because the Labour government splurged on spending.   But this is flatly denied by three sources: one is the IMF report of 2011 which calculated that of the 37% increase in UK public debt from 2007-11, only 2% was due to an increase in public spending (overwhelmingly it was due to loss of revenues due to the deep international recession and to support for the stricken banking sector).   Second, the UK budgetary record shows that the Thatcher-Major governments consistently ran up larger deficits than the Blair-Brown governments.  The third source is himself: Osborne certainly did not think Labour had messed up since he confirmed in September 2007 that he would match Brown’s spending plans and that “under a Conservative government there will be real increases in spending on public services year after year”!
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Tories promise good times are coming when they intend 5 more years of deepening austerity

The Tory propaganda machine is spectacularly successful at disseminating lies.   It has very successfully embedded it into the nation’s consciousness that the last Labour government caused all the ‘economic mess’ as though it had nothing to do with the bankers or the international recession.  It has got it into people’s minds that Labour was profligate and can’t be trusted with the nation’s finances when the economic record says the opposite: in Labour’s 11 years (1997-2008) before the crash the budget deficit was never larger than 3.3% of GDP, whilst the Thatcher-Major governments racked up deficits bigger than this in 10 out of their 18 years, so which was the spendthrift party?   It has got people to believe that cutting the deficit takes precedence over every other aspect of policy, as though expanding the economy, creating well-paid jobs, boosting investment, and raising household incomes was not much more important, and would actually generate the bigger government tax receipts to pay down the deficit much faster.
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Cameron up shit creek as defeat beckons

Cameron’s last desperate throw by rousing English nationalism is clearly aimed at saving Tory seats in areas where the UKIP challenge is pressing hardest, in order to ratchet up the total number of Tory seats which, when combined with likely allies, will enable him to just slip over the line back into Downing Street.   On that basis, according to the latest polls, the LibDems might get 27 seats (a drop of nearly half), UKIP might get 1, and the DUP (Paisley’s fundamentalist Protestant party) will probably have 9 seats.   Even these assumptions are far from certain: Clegg may not win his own seat and substantial sections of both the Tory and LibDem parties may well be strongly opposed to resurrecting a coalition that both loathed after their experience of the last 5 years.   But even leaving that aside, to get to the magic number of 324 (i.e. after excluding the Speaker and the Sinn Fein MPs who refuse to attend Westminster), the Tories still need 287 seats.   On current evidence is that likely?
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Cameron’s last throw and Lynton Crosby’s series of bungles

Cameron is getting desperate.   Throwing around billions in unfunded promises (the NHS, housing association hand-outs, raised inheritance tax threshold) cut no ice.   The inevitable promise of higher rate tax cuts (unfunded again) didn’t impress.   The boast that the Tories had turned round the economy from a basket case to a world beater simply didn’t ring true in people’s lives.    The claim that the Tories represented the ‘party of working people’ is beyond satire.   So having used up every trick in the book, including vilifying Ed Miliband which turned counter-productive once people saw him at length on TV and could make up their own minds, Cameron has now resorted to the most preposterous device of all – trying to inflame English nationalism against the Scots in order to turn voters against a Labour-SNP deal after the election.
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There are 3 ways to cut the deficit – why has Labour chosen the wrong one?

The budget deficit, which has been far more central to this election campaign than it should have been, can be dealt with in three separate ways.   It can be reduced by cutting expenditure either by taxing the poor or by taxing the rich, or it can be reduced by cutting unemployment (the ‘automatic stabilisers’ to sustain the jobless cost £9bn a year per million persons unemployed), growing the economy, raising wages and thus increasing government revenues to pay off the deficit faster.   The Tories once again have chosen the first alternative, making clear that the country is only a third of the way through its toxic regimen of cuts, with at least £25bn still to come, half of which will be levied on reducing disability benefits, cutting back on industrial injury benefits (for which people have paid though national insurance contributions), and clobbering carers’ allowances.   Labour has promised to cut the deficit every year, and its manifesto promises that balancing the books “will require common sense spending reductions”, whatever that means.   Presumably this will certainly not include the items in the Tory cuts package, but it is not clear what common sense reductions refers to.
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Why doesn’t Labour lambast the Tories on their weakest point – the economy?

It is strange that Labour hasn’t launched a full frontal attack on the Tory handling of the economy over the last 5 years, because it’s been deplorable.   The only points the Tories make in defence of their own management are growth and jobs.   But look at the record.   Osborne’s bizarre idea that contracting the economy would generate private sector expansion crashed in 2012 when his austerity budgets, plus increasing VAT and cutting capital expenditure both of which stifled demand, led to stagnation.   Deficit reduction went out of the window, and in came reckless plans to get growth going at any cost – the Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes which duly blew up a property bubble in the housing market – not so much a long-term economic plan as a desperate short-term expedient.   This left a very lopsided economy – investment, manufacturing, construction and exports (the real sources of sustainable growth) flat or worse, and only the service sector growing.   Altogether growth has average 1.5% since 2010, well below the average for the last 70 years of 2.5%.
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Even the Tories’ naked bribery has now gone pear-shaped

There is a very noticeable difference between the way that the Tories and Labour have conducted this election.   The Tories have used the twin-prong approach: personal vilification which has proved counter-productive and now blatant giveaways (of other people’s money) to try to produce a false feel-good factor, but no serious policy proposals for the country’s increasingly dire social and economic problems (especially the triple deficit problem of a budget deficit of nearly £100bn, a balance of payments deficit of over £100bn, and a productivity deficit that means living standards can’t rise).   Labour on the other hand has, rightly, refrained from vilification (however tempting it might be!) and has confined itself to a widening series of positive policy proposals which do connect with people’s understanding with what’s badly wrong – on energy bills, rent levels, housing supply, low pay, zero hours contracts, bedroom tax, NHS privatisation, mansion tax and non-doms, industrial scale tax avoidance, and so on.   But even when the Tories in increasing desperation are selling off not only the family silver but the kitchen sink, it’s still coming out as ill-thought-through, impractical and unjust.
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Only a radical government will overturn the Establishment scandals of the last decades

The horror of the story now emerging about Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground conflagration that killed 56 football fans shocks even those hardened by the constant drip-feed of scandals that have numbed the national consciousness as accountability is dumbed down by an over-powerful self-interested and self-protective Establishment.   The book just published 30 years later by Martin Fletcher, who escaped the fire aged 12, casts a lurid light on the way that the disaster, if not hushed up, was certainly not properly investigated.   The inquiry before High Court judge Popplewell was held only 3 weeks after the disaster and only lasted 5 days before deciding it was caused by a match or cigarette.

It failed to uncover, what Fletcher has painstakingly discovered, that the owner of the football ground at that time, Stafford Heginbotham, had had fires at no less than 9 buildings he owned or controlled over a period of 18 years.   He received insurance payouts of £27m at today’s money value, including £2.74m from his Bradford firms.   Moreover, at the time of the Bradford City ground blaze, he had been in desperate financial trouble, and had been told just 2 days earlier that it would cost £2m to bring the ground up to required safety standards.   Was the fire then just an accident, and why was it dealt with so superficially?
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The alienated untouchables

As the Labour campaign continues to make good progress whilst the Tories lurch from one failed artifice after another, and in particular Ed Miliband is increasingly taking command with growing confidence, the election has nevertheless drawn attention to a disturbing penumbra of alienation from the whole process.   In poor white working class areas the number of households who say they never vote/haven’t made up their minds/believe there’s no point in voting because nothing changes or they’re all the same anyway, is alarmingly high.   Of course there has always been a substratum of the population who felt and talked like that, but it has grown uncomfortably over the last 5 years.   In a sense these patches of territory in England begin to resemble what has happened on a broader scale in Scotland.   They feel they have regularly voted for Labour in the past, but it seems to make no difference because nothing changes (however unfair this judgement might be).   This is not something that Labour can or should neglect: why has this happened and what needs to be done to regain these voters from their sense of abandonment?
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