The end of 2014 has certainly brought home some hard economic truths. Osborne told us he had a long-term economic plan and it was working because the UK had the fastest-growing economy in the G7. Well, it isn’t: the UK economy is now growing at only half the rate of the US economy, and even Australia is now growing faster than the UK. Worse, the UK economy is slowing, David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, comments that “the stark revision (downward) in annual growth confirms that the pace of recovery is slowing.” The budget deficit, which according to Osborne’s long-term economic plan, was supposed now to be £40bn is actually £100bn. Worse, the deficit is now beginning to rise, not fall at all. The re-balancing of the economy, another key part of the government’s long-term economic plan, hasn’t materialised and in fact has got much worse. Kern again: “the current balance of payments deficit has risen to an unsustainably high level….owing to the fall in net investment”. Business investors clearly don’t believe Osborne either.
Then there are the political truths coming home to roost. Cameron has announced with great flourish – part of that catalogue of wholesale mis-statements, dishonesty and denial of reality which is forever Cameron – austerity and the cuts are largely over and very little remains to b e done. Osborne immediately contradicted this in the Autumn Statement by declaring roundly that he intended to take another £30bn in cuts in this next parliament, and that was just for starters. Anyway the stark figures – a deficit of £100bn and rising – tell their own irrefutable message, that the political ideology of unrelenting austerity is now a busted flush. It has laid waste communities in the north, made large parts of Britain into a third world country dependent on food banks, and generated a sense of utter insecurity and abandonment by all three main political parties until Labour has the guts to propound the real solution which is sustainable economic growth. But the biggest illustration of the collapse of right-wing ideology had its roots in the Scottish referendum, now consolidated by the SNP surge and wholesale repudiation of the the right-wing-driven Westminster Establishment.
Right-wing military ideology has led to the disasters known as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They were dishonestly begun for the wrong reason – to discover non-existent WMD in Iraq – but actually to enable the war criminal Blair to proclaim that Britain (he) was standing shoulder to shoulder with Bush – at the expense of course of several hundred British soldiers’ lives. Too much of what was done was driven, not by military need of political justification, but simply to impress the US. And it didn’t succeed even in that. General Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the US army, put it succinctly in 2013 speaking at Sandhurst about the twin debacles of Basra and Helmand: “Gentlemen, you let us down; you let us down badly”.