In their quest to avoid paying tax the Tories have pulled some pretty impressive confidence tricks. They've managed to slice up British society like so much salami and then turned each slice against all the others. They've turned a crisis in capitalism into a problem not for capitalists but for those they swindled. They've taken the gross ineficiencies and sheer criminality of the private sector and turned them into virtues with which to batter the public sector to death. Essentially they have turned the world on its head. Nothing, however, demonstrates their sheer audacity more than Eric Pickle's accusation that Councils are "dodging democracy." The Tories have no majority, no mandate and no real legitimacy, yet have launched an attack on the ordinary people in this country of breathtaking scope. Determined to take away our rights at work, our ability to find redress in the law and persecute the vulnerable, they steal our pensions and our NHS using their favourite tactic of blaming the victims and accusing others of being "anti-democratic." The Tories are a disgraceful blight on this country and a shameful reflection of how low we have sunk as a people.
Nick Clegg appeared on the BBC today and patiently explained why he has no choice but to betray every principle his party is supposed to stand for. "We are absolutely not going to change course," he told us all after both the IMF and Goldman Sachs have stated that Osborne's economic policy is counter-productive, Britain entered a triple-dip recession and his own party is becoming increasingly restive. As Lord Oakeshott, the Liberal Democrats' former Treasury spokesman, has said: "The economy is as flat as a pancake. No growth means no progress in the Coalition's central purpose of reducing the deficit. We Liberal Democrats did not sign up to stagflation and a vicious circle of self-defeating cuts. It is time to challenge the Treasury orthodoxy that has learnt nothing since the 1930s." So why doesn't Clegg have a choice? Because if he backs away from the Tories now that will trigger a General Election, he will lose his job and the LibDem party will decimated. So none of this, as he would like us to believe, is for the good of the country - it is purely for his good. As such his continued support for the Tory party is the greatest betrayal of the country in modern British political history.
While David Cameron picks his fight with Europe to please his backbenchers, George Osborne puts his feet up and ignores the economy and Nick Clegg hides and ignores everything, the question arises as to where the resistence to the worst government in living memory is? Councils are having to face 30% cuts as the Tories force poor people, who didn't benefit from the "good times" to pay for the crisis in capitalism now that the bad times are here. Hospitals are being closed and forced into bankruptcy to soften them up for privatisation. Bankers are still paying themselves huge amounts of money for criminal activities and then refusing to pay tax. Wages are being slashed even as politicians seek to increase their own and still treat their expenses claims as a licence to print money. The newspapers are still harassing ordinary people for their "stories" and chasing the famous until they drop from exhaustion. The BBC still completely ignores protests in London while reporting those in Cairo in loving detail. After four years of austerity for us and business as usual for the wealthy what has changed? Nothing. Why? Because there is no effective opposition to all this. The Labour party has the perfect reason for rediscovering its radical roots in this crisis - just as the Tories have rediscovered their elitist, nasty and vicious origins. That Labour chooses to ignore this and offers only a slightly watered-down version of Tory austerity demonstrates that they too are wedded to the status quo. Only one nation has grasped the nettle and done what needs to be done - Iceland - and that has been studiously ignored by politicians and journalists alike. If Icelanders were dying in the streets or murdering each other in a vicious civil war the story would be everywhere, while their success in breaking the grip of corrupt politicians and criminal bankers is hardly worth a mention.
It is hardly surprising that Europe looks at Britain with a wry smile. While they are tackling the problems of the 21st Century Britain is determindly trying to solve the problems of the 19th. The Midlothian Question still haunts Parliament, they are still obssessed with the size of the navy and sending gunboats to protect colonial possessions, poor people are still blamed for their poverty, the House of Lords is still unreformed and, most disastrous of all, they still have no understanding of economics. Apart from the unexplained disappearance of the Empire its as if the last 150 years never happened. All the lessons are now forgotten, pushed into obscurity by the dead hand of Britain's worst Prime Minister - Margaret Thatcher - and ignored by the present worst Prime Minister - David Cameron. Meanwhile the world's worst and least qualified economics minister - George Osborne - gleefully presides over an economy that is clinically dead and gripped by an unprecedented triple-dip recession and tells us there is no "Plan B." Not that there isn't another and better solution, its just that Osborne finds it difficult to think more than one thought at a time. Ed Balls has accused Cameron and Osborne of being "asleep at the wheel." He's wrong. They're not asleep - they're completely unconscious and happy to be so.
While the Tories are busy congratulating each other on the sheer one-sided nastiness of their policies, the suicide rate in Britain has soared by 11% to the highest levels since the 1980's and 90's - coincidentally the last time they were in power. Job insecurity, falling wages and rising prices are thought to be the chief reasons for a rising tide of despair as ordinary people find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. To the Tory led government, insulated by high wages, bloated expense claims and unbounded opportunities to take back-handers from "lobbyists", this is all a bit of a mystery and is likely remain so since they couldn't give a toss about any of it. Making people feel warm, fuzzy and secure is not their thing. Making them afraid for their future and taking away any hope that things might get better is, on the other hand, right up their street. The most important thing is that the poor pay for the recession while the wealthy continue to milk an economic system that is all but dead. So what can you say about their war on welfare "dependency", worker's rights, the public sector and education for the masses - other than the undertakers are winning it?
GP's are now waking up to the fact that the Tories have sold them a pig in a poke over the NHS "reforms". The much-vaunted Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG's) are powerless to do what they are supposed to do in the face of private healthcare companies who are busily buying up "bankrupt" Health Trusts as their hospitals are starved of funds by the Tories. The "reforms", it seems, were nothing more than cover for the privatisation of the NHS after all the "Guardian" reports today. Surprise surprise. What the GP's failed to understand is that when you sup with the Devil you need a long spoon and, when you sup with the Tories, you need an even longer one. Having a posh accent does not mean that you can be trusted and, when it comes to the Tories, it simply means they are nothing more than common spivs with an expensive education. Tories, as previous stories in the News In Shorts have pointed out, are expert scroungers and there is no tactic they won't use, no lie they won't tell to get their hands on someone else's property.
Rural Tory councils have managed to persuade Eric Pickles that, unlike Labour held city councils, they should escape from many of the cuts to their budgets. This was achieved, sources have suggested, because the Tory Councils were threatening a Judicial Review. However, this fails to answer why the Tories couldn't give a toss about Labour councils doing the same. The real answer is that the Tories are scroungers of legendary ability and are able to get their grubby little hands on money denied to the rest of us with ease. Like all really good scroungers they are also adept at providing thmeselves with alibis for their money-grubbing. The official line was delivered by Andrew Lansley, Liar-In-Chief for the Smug Tendency in the Tory party; “Ministers agree that the evidence shows that rural areas are comparatively underfunded, and that a correction should be applied so that there is proper recognition of the additional costs of delivering services in rural areas.” Naturally the "evidence" remains unpublished while the average wealth of those living in rural Tory council areas goes completely and conveniently unremarked. What is abundantly clear is that we are no longer "all in this together" - not that we ever were - and that the Tory party has now taken to rewarding itself for voting Tory - not that it ever did anything else.
The Ernst and Young Item Club forecasting group has warned that George Osborne's suicidal economic plan will force Britain into an unprecedented triple-dip recession this year. Meanwhile Adam Posen, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, has said; "It's inexcusable for the chancellor not to take reality into account when making fiscal policy. When you've implemented everything, and it's had the opposite effect, and it's been a bad effect, you have an ethical and public responsibility to change policy." We tracked down Mr Osborne on his skiing holiday and asked for his reaction. "Recession, what recession? I'm doing all right as you can see. People should get off their idle backsides and work harder at inheriting money as I did. I didn't get where I am today without being a millionaire I can tell you. As for my so-called economic problems, what commentators have failed to take into account is Algeria and the snow. Algeria has forced austerity off the front page of the newspapers and off the BBC news and the snow has already provided me with just the alibi I need to explain away any triple-dip recession. We should all be thankful that these two completely unrelated events have come along and saved me from embarassment - the most importat thing as I'm sure you'll agree."
Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, is a typical Tory. The son of a judge, privately educated, wealthy and as thick as two short planks. While Andrew Mitchell likes to refer to policemen as "plebs", Mr.Chope sees the restaurant staff at Westminster as "servants." Having referred to them as such during a speech about the terrible service in the House of Commons restaurant, he appeared to be completely dumbfounded by the reaction from the Opposition benches who fell about laughing. The reason for his confusion was entirely understandable since, to him and the rest of the Tory party, we are all merely servants. The Tory party has been accused of "being out of touch" but that is hardly a strong enough term to describe the gulf between us and them. To them we are as exotic as an alien race and are, as the ancient Romans described slaves, "talking tools." Our welfare, life experiences and even our very existence is largely irrelevant to them. We are there to wait upon them and provide for their priviliged existence through our taxes but, otherwise, are of little or no account. In the past we had our uses as the workers necessary to provide their material wants but they can get cheaper goods from India and China so we are now surplus to requirements. Even their demand for domestic servants has been reduced by modern technology, while advances in weapon technology means that we are no longer needed to fill the trenches in our millions. Under those circumstances our education, our employment and our healthcare are no longer required and the state can, as far as they are concerned, be safely shrunken to the point where they at least don't have to pay any taxes at all.
To any reasonable person it is evident that multi-national companies simply don't have enough influence over the government. At least that is the conclusion that the Tories have come to and, to redress this shortcoming, they have decided to set up a "buddy" system between key ministers and big business. "Multi-nationals have long given us a great deal of money for no apparent reason and we have set up the "buddy" system to get to the bottom of this mystery," a Tory spokesman told our reporter. "At the same time we can listen to their opinions about policy since we have absolutely no idea what they think. Of course many ministers and the heads of multi-nationals are already close friends but, strangely enough, there has never been a recorded instance of company executives ever saying anything about policy to a minister. Apparently they spend most of their time talking about things such as the meaning of existence and other deep philosophical mysteries. We have, as you know, listened to the opinions of ordinary people - the NHS is a case in point - but we've found the dialogue rather unsatisfactory since most people completely disagree with us and we don't get the answers we want. We now believe that the best way forwards is to talk only to millionaires who, for no accountable reson, do agree with us and tend to come up with the same ideas as ourselves. That provides proof positive that only rich people know anything worth knowing or have opinions that are worth considering."
Tory MP George Eustice came close to breaking down in tears today as he told the BBC that politicians are being "undermined by journalists" who deliberately make them "look evasive" by asking awkward questions. "It's heartbreaking," he told the News in Shorts. "We simply want people to listen to us and give us the benefit of the doubt. But every time we try to explain ourselves, using iffy statistics and sprouting ideological claptrap, up pops a journalist pointing out that we're not actually telling the truth. What they don't seem to appreciate is that truth is a slippery thing, especially when you're trying to avoid it. What we need is for journalists to sit quietly while we talk, though they could nod their heads enthusiastically every now and again if they like. My favoured solution to redress the imbalance is more party political broadcasts so that we can talk without being interrupted. If we could just express ourselves without being questioned too closely things would be much better. Then we could be evasive without anyone noticing and we could get on with the real business of government - stealing money for ourselves and our rich mates while pauperising the peasants."
David Cameron, battered by UKIP, told off by the Americans and largely ignored by other European leaders, is watching in dismay tonight as his Tory colleagues sharpen their knives for the next ritual slaughter of their leader. Like Margaret Thatcher and John Major before him, Cameron cannot give the Tory party what it wants - the abject surrender of the EU to their insane ideology. While European leaders can be venal, arrogant and stupid even they cannot bring themselves to be as stupid as David Cameron and his Tory cabinet colleagues. While they are content to make the poor in their countries pay for the recession, they are even keener to make the poor of other countries pay for it and recognise that they have to leave their own citizens with enough money to at least pay their taxes. It is not so with the Tories who actually believe that they have a moral mission to turn their countrymen into paupers for the good of their souls. Unable to deliver what the swivel-eyed nutters in his party demand and unable to persuade the French and the Germans to help him David Cameron is doomed to failure and obscurity. Not a moment too soon as far as the News in Shorts is concerned, but his demise might be postponed until after his caghanded blackmail has done irreperable damage to Britain's position in Europe.
The government is considering exempting private healthcare companies from paying tax as they forge ahead with the privatisation of the NHS. And profits, once the NHS is privatised, are set to climb significantly as nurses wages and their subsequent pensions are to be forced down. Nurses pay is already under threat, ahead of privatisation, as weekend and unsociable hours enhancements are stopped so that Healthcare companies can cash in. Many hospitals are already running services on little more than skeleton staffing levels in order to make ends meet as the government deliberately starve them of funds while the Care Quality Commission has admitted that 17 hospitals are already operating at less than safe levels. In the meantime 999 control room staff are being paid bonuses of up to £250 to avoid sending ambulances out in order to save yet more money. The message is clear. The Tories are going to privatise the NHS and will reward their rich healthcare pals with juicy tax-free deals even as they withdraw healthcare from all but the wealthy. They are stealing our NHS and making us pay for the privilege.
The Tory Eurosceptic dingbats are crawling out of the woodwork as the time approaches for David Cameron to find something to say about Europe. What the motives of the right-wing ranters are is worth considering when what is at stake is the future prosperity of the country. The problem is, of course, that the Tory party couldn't give a toss about prosperity if it means the uppity peasants might benefit. The only prosperity that concerns them is their own and that is more dependent on banking than anything else. Trade for them is something undertaken by the hoipollei, those without inherited money to invest in arms, slum housing or grouse moors. What concerns them most is power - the power to frame laws that reduce workers and human rights. They will risk anything to make sure that the peasants do as they're told. Turning their backs on a market of 450 million people and an economy that produces 25% of the world's GDP on our doorstep is of little account. Not when they are far more interested in exporting Britain's industries and working class to China and India. They rave about the "red-tape" created by Europe, but think nothing of creating more when it suits them. They rave about "unelected bureaucrats" in Brussels, but don't turn a hair at changing the country fundamentally without a mandate themselves. It's a well known fact that the Tories hate all foreigners but what is becoming clearer every day is that they hate their own countrymen even more.
George Osborne has been nominated for the Nobel Economics Prize in the category "Economic Ignoramus of the Year" it was announced today. We asked George for a comment; "This is a great honour and one which I am proud to accept. Steering Britain from slight recovery to a third recession in the space of two-and-a-half years has not been easy and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made it possible. First my parents, without whose support and lack of contraception at the crucial moment none of this would have been possible. Next my best mate David Cameron, almost as economically illiterate as myself. But my greatest appreciation is reserved for those morons who voted Tory at the last election. The idiotic are always with us but I must commend their efforts in turning out in sufficient numbers to get us into No.10 by the backdoor. I would also like to reluctantly thank the LibDems, whose lack of political common sense, backbone and any discernable principals has helped to keep me in the position where I can do the maximum amout of damage to the British economy. We must all take solace that, as long as I'm Chancellor, there is no alternative to the present economic insanity and that we're all in this together - me continuing to be a millionaire no matter what happens and you lot as the poverty-stricken peasants you deserve to be." We asked a Tory spokesman for the party view; "We won't stop until we see all the hated British scum who refuse to vote for us ground into the dirt. It's our patriotic duty."
Honda has today announced 800 redundancies at its plant in Swindon. The reason is that car sales have fallen in Europe by as much as 1 million units. This, you might think, is to be expected against the background of continued recession, high unemployment and lower wages across the continent. Demand is bound to suffer under such circumstances. However, the contrast between Honda and other manufacturers such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Bentley couldn't be more stark. The sale of luxury cars is actually climbing. Good news for them and those that work for them, but what does it tell us about the economy as a whole? Put simply the rich are getting richer and are shrugging off the effects of the recession as if it doesn't exist while the poor are getting poorer and are struggling to pay day-to-day bills. Why is this? Because governments across Europe, with a few exceptions, are determined that the poor must pay for the mistakes of the wealthy. The greatest exception has been France where taxes on the rich have been put up to 75%. But what hs been the result? Gérard Depardieu has quit his country and taken out Russian citizenship simply to avoid paying taxes, proving quite conclusively that for people like him patriotism is well and truly dead. David Cameron has already laid out Britain's stall when it comes to inviting the Gallic greedy and selfish to cross the Channel and take up residence here. But then what would you expect from a country where Bentley sales are rising while the sale of Hondas is collapsing. That says it all really.
Its tough being an MP nowadays. Gone are the days when their expense allowances were a licence to print money, while lobbyists are finding ever more difficult to press money into their sweaty little hands without being found out. Its so bad that many find it necessary to take other jobs, sometimes several other jobs, just to make ends meet. Meanwhile the job has become a lot more difficult with "hard decisions and choices" multiplying. You have to pity them as they rob the poor to support their rich mates and are forced to cry crocodile tears in the full glare of the media. Many are so upset by all this thay they believe the only way to relieve the pressure is to give themselves a 32% pay rise. As Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, declared today in Parliament; "A vast majority of people do not think £65,000 a year salary is a lot of money." Excuse me? Who has he been asking? Those on benefits with any increase of their miserable allowance capped at 1%? Those many millions who labour day-in-day-out on the minimum wage and are now facing cuts to their working tax credits? The terminally ill who have been declared "fit for work" and had their benefits stopped altogether? I doubt it. No, Mr Bridgen has been talking to his fatcat mates, the bankers and corporate executives who earn fortunes for doing practically nothing and get juicy bonuses for being incompetent failures. How much is an MP worth? Whatever he can get apparently.
David Cameron announced today that protecting Britain's AAA credit rating is "not important." Oh. We've already seen that austerity is not about reducing Britain's debts since the national debt is actually growing and its not about avoiding recession since double-dip and even triple-dip seem to have no significance. In fact all of the economic goals that the Coalition set itself have gone by the way. So the question is, what is austerity for? If not for economic purposes could it be for social purposes? Well yes, since that is the only other reason for having it. So what are those social goals? Look at the evidence. Austerity has made possible the privatisation of the NHS for the benefit of the wealthy - both in terms of business opportunities and tax cuts for themselves. It has made possible a huge cut in welfare benefits - again for the benefit of the wealthy who can expect even more juicy tax cuts. It has led to even more job insecurity for ordinary working people at any rate - the wealthy and influential seem immune to such insecurities. It makes possible a two-tier education system in Britain in which only the wealthy will have any kind of choice for themselves and their children. It is the direct cause of an ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots. Austerity, in short, has only two purposes - to increase the privileges and wealth of the already privileged and wealthy and to decrease the meagre resources of the poor. It is nothing less than an all-out assault on the ordinary working man and woman in this country - an undeclared civil war launched as an ambush from behind the protective cover of the LibDem party and a seemingly never-ending recession. The Tories have, in effect, parked their tanks on our lawn. The only real question left is what are you going to do about it?
Having taken a wrecking ball to the economy George Osborne is poised to swoop in and save us all in the nick of time. This will be done, it appears, by a two-pronged attack on our economic woes. First George will be giving up his entitlement to family allowance. Of course under the new rules governing family allowance he would no longer be entitled being a millionaire and all so he's not actually giving anything up at all. Still, as the rest of us wrestle with rising utility bills, lower wages, less job security, longer working lives, vanishing healthcare provision and ever higher taxation by stealth, its nice to see that George has honoured the "we're all in this together" mantra. The fact that he handed himself a nice £40,000 per year tax break earlier this year shouldn't distract us all from his basic nobility. Nor should the fact that he and his family pay for nothing courtesy of the taxpayer distract us from feeling his pain. Thirty quid a week could make all the difference to him and his family. The second prong of this attack lies in education. High Street banks - you know, the ones who crashed the world economy, pay themselves lottery-win sized bonuses for failure, hold out their hand for taxpayers money when they bankrupt their own businesses and indulge in various financial crimes - are to visit schools to teach our children all about finance and economics. Neoliberal propaganda about the "free" market and the need for less financial regulation is to be piped directly into our children's minds free from the meddling of "leftie" teachers. Thus the insane economic theory that brought the world to its knees is to be preached in our classrooms by its most ardent acolytes while our children are fed a diet of economic mumbo-jumbo. Sounds delightful.
David Cameron told the Telegraph today that he intends to be Prime Minister until 2020. The Tory plan to achieve this, reported in another Telegraph article, makes for sober reading. Retirement age is to be abolished so that the old can continue to work, reducing pensions to zero so that the wealthy don't have to pay taxes. The NHS is to be privatised for the same reason. Children are to be chained to their school desks for an extra three hours per day while teachers will have to work unpaid overtime. In this extra time they will be taught Mandarin Chinese on the basis that they will need the language of their new masters. Benefit "scroungers" in the North will be paid less than those in the south because they need less money to survive in a job-free wasteland. House sizes are to be reduced to make them "affordable" and more like the cosy slums of the 1840's. Taxes for the rich will be slashed in order to "unleash a new spirit of enterprise," the Tories claim, though how this will encourage the poor they don't seem to know. Presumably they will ahve to be beaten into submission because that is how poor people are "encouraged." This, they confidently predict, will create "ever increasing levels of emotional well-being in our society." It will, of course, do no such thing. All it will do is increase the inequalities in Britain, increase the wealth of the selfish and greedy and push the vast majority to the edge of destitution. This is the Tory wet dream made manifest - a dystopia made possible only because their nasty little prejudices have been elevated to the level of policy. And it is only one general election away.
Picture the scene. Tory cabinet ministers meet together at 10 Downing Street to discuss what part of society they can next vilify and punish for having the cheek to exist. They've already attacked the unemployed, the disabled, the sick, doctors and nurses, the police and working people. Who is left? They deliberate, they shake their jowls in indignation at one another and then Eric Pickles has a brainwave. "Let us attack fat people!" he declares. "What, all fat people?" David Cameron replies, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice. "No, no," Eric Pickles shoots back. "Only poor fat people. You know, the benefit scroungers who maintain a filmstar lifestyle on £60 per week. The scoungers who gorge themselves on free food from the foodbanks in between swilling their cans of lager and smoking fags three at a time. Those people." "Ah, yes," Ian Duncan Smith muses with relish. "I know all about those sort of people. I've seen millions of them in my imagination. We'll stop their benefits if they don't lose weight, join an expensive gym and fail to win a gold medal at the next Olympics." "Ooooh, the Olympics," the entire Tory cabinet sighs. "Is there any truth in this story that your ministry spends £10,000 a year on biscuits?" David Cameron asks, suspecting a banana skin. "Absolutely not," Pickles assures him. "It was only £9,999 and, anyway, we didn't spend anything really because the taxpayer paid for them." "That's all right then," Cameron replies with a sigh of relief. "I thought we might be about to do something really stupid and uncalled for. Fortnum and Mason's biscuit anyone?"
Despite all appearances Grant Shapps has the easiest job in Britain. As Chairman of the Tory party it his responsibility to get them a majority at the next election. This can be done, he told us in the Telegraph today, because of their "solid record" on "welfare, jobs and education." No mention of the economy then. No, he would rather rely on the trust he has in the British people to be as vile as he is himself. Having whipped up what he hopes is a storm of hysterical jealousy for the film star lifestyles of the unemployed, disabled and sick, he honestly seems to believe that crude hatred will get him where he wants to go. He remains confident that the vast majority of us welcome the opportunity to work part-time for the minimum wage and be content with rights that none of us can afford to enforce. Better yet, he seems to think, we are all clamouring for our children to receive a second-rate education while the privileged few claim all the glittering prizes. We yearn, he seems to believe, for the good old days of the 1840's when everyone at least had the certainty of knowing his or her place. Of course he doesn't really believe this twaddle which is why he has the easiest job in Britain. The Nasty Party haven't a cat in hell's chance of getting a majority in 2015 and he knows it. The article in todays Telegraph is probably the closest he will come to making effort to persuade us otherwise and even that is little better than a suicide note.