Project Osborne

Update: George Osborne’s response to the loss of the AAA rating from Moody, is that he is just going to keep on doing what he has been doing.. in spite of the flat-lining economy, the increasing deficit and a potential triple-dip recession.  All of which adds substance to the suggestion that Osborne has another agenda.

Since it seems that the Tribune magazine website is still not working, I have taken the liberty of posting Ian Aitken’s excellent piece from the latest edition. Tribune is always an excellent source of left-wing thinking and cannot be more highly recommended.

‘Led into the Darkness by Tory guiding light Osborne’

by Ian Aitken

One of the most extraordinary features of present-day British politics is just how few of its citizens appear to realize how awful – indeed, how evil – their present Government really is.  Amazingly, this almost wilful blindness seems to apply as much to Labour voters as to Tories and Liberal Democrats.

Yet it becomes increasingly obvious with every day that passes that the true aim of George Osborne – who remains the ideological guiding light of the Tory wing of the coalition Government – is the destruction of the entire post-war settlement which emerged from the achievements of the 1945 Labour Government. Osborne is hell-bent on dismantling the welfare state in its entirety, and he doesn’t seem to care what else he has to destroy to achieve his aim.

What makes it even more outrageous is that Clement Attlee and his colleagues had a massive parliamentary majority behind them when they took office, and therefore an unchallengeable popular mandate for what they intended to do.  David Cameron and company have no majority, and therefore no mandate.  They did not win the 2010 election, and such majority as the Government possesses relies on the votes of Lib Dem MPs, not one of whom ran on an Osborne programme when they were elected.

I have no doubt that Osborne knows full well that this will be a one-term Government, and that he will be a one-term Chancellor.  So he clearly intends to complete the job of wrecking the welfare state before the inevitable defeat in 2015.  And he probably calculates that, provided he wields the axe with sufficient brutality, it will be almost impossible for any succeeding government to put Humpty together again.

That, I believe, is why Osborne appears to be so indifferent to the catastrophic impact his policies are having on the British economy.  It is blindingly obvious that his programme of savage cuts in state spending is contributing to the depth of the crisis, and even threatens to plunge the economy into a triple-dip recession.  Now even the International Monetary Fund is telling him to ease up on the austerity.  Yet he pays no attention whatever.

I am convinced that this is because, in his eyes, the spending cuts aren’t just instruments of a failed economic policy but a positive good in themselves.  They aren’t unfortunate measures forced on him by the need to cut the deficit (as he constantly tells us), but a specific means to creating a free market, stand-on-your-own-two-feet, devil-take-the-hindmost society of a kind that we have not seen in this country since the early years of Queen Victoria.

Margaret Thatcher began this process by deliberately creating the unemployment which enabled her to destroy the power of the trade unions.  Thanks to her, Osborne has been able to do his even more destructive work without having to worry about militant action by organized labour.  The pity of it is that he has hardly had to worry about the militancy of the labour movement as a whole – including, I fear, the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Can Osborne pull it off in the time left to him?  As things stand, he probably can.  But if the rag-tag army of the opposition parties – including not only the Greens but also a large swathe of the Lib Dems – can get themselves organized and into action, it is possible to slow the process so radically that Project Osborn could be derailed.  I can think of  nothing that matters more right now – certainly not horsemeat in burgers or (say) gay marriage.

So what is holding us back?  I fear that a major factor is the mood of cynicism which has engulfed the voting public ever since the scandal of MPs’ expenses.  Strangely, the ‘they’re all in it for themselves” culture that now holds sway on the doorstep has become the active ally of Project Osborne.  Too few people believe politicians who express the kind of innocently idealistic aims that formed the basis of Attlee’s great victory in 1945.

But this may be Ed Miliband’s opportunity.  Perhaps his lack of charisma could prove a positive advantage, just as it did for Attlee.  No one could accuse Clem of being in it for himself.  Nor, I think, could they accuse Ed.

22 February 2013 Tribune p5


23 thoughts on “Project Osborne

  1. Pingback: Project Osborne | SteveB's Politics & Economy Scoops |

  2. Pingback: Project Osborne | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  3. Let’s not forget that governments both Conservative and Labour have adopted the technique of disability denial devised by the American insurance company Unum, one with a long established history of criminality, and used it to deny entirely legitimate sickness benefit claims. We might deduce from this that none of the major political parties have any interest in maintaining the welfare state, quite the reverse in fact.


    • ‘We might deduce from this that none of the major political parties have any interest in maintaining the welfare state, quite the reverse in fact.’ – we might indeed… but there are only two certainties. One is death, the other is ‘things change’.

      Why assume that the Tory-lite policies of New Labour defy nature and are immutable? A vast majority of LP grassroots and 50% MPs reject neoliberalism. In this instance, the ‘best’ really is the enemy of the ‘good’. At its worst, New Labour was better than this Tory/LD government.. and there are many, many people working very hard to push/pull the LP away from its Tory-lite days.

      The cynicism/’painting any positive moves from the LP as bad as the tories’ just feeds into the hand of Project Osborne. I have no illusion that a Labour government will represent my views but the other options are appallingly worse and totally without hope .. whereas Labour is a potential transition government.


      • “A vast majority of LP grassroots and 50% MPs reject neoliberalism”
        Trouble is that the other half of MPs includes many with the real power in the party, since Blair’s command and control structures disenfranchised the grass roots and back-benchers. And too many apparatchiks and grandees, plus sundry hangers-on and opportunistic consultants,lobbyists, think-tankers etc have an abiding fondness for many of the tenets of neoliberalism..


      • Absolutely .. and those employed by the LP, which has been a real problem in its own right. Nevertheless, things are not the same as they were. Prominent shadow ministers have distanced themselves from Progress, and in spite of the support of Lord Sainsbury’s money (and Pfizers, Tim Bell etc) and MSM journalists, the repeated coup attempts to topple Ed Miliband in favour of his brother have failed to date.

        There are Labour MPs and PPC who are ‘real’ Labour and they need support to do their bit. As Ian Aitken says the cynicism about all politicians helps no-one but the Tories and Osborne. The grassroots both inside and outside of the party must do their bit to educate, agitate and organise … politicians respond to public opposition/consensus. Even Osborne has to create new lies in response to the zeitgeist.

        I’m no Polyanna but even a 50% blairite government is better than the Romney-Ryan-type Republican one that we have at the moment. I can see an EM government as a transition to a better one. However, I fear that if the Tories get re-elected (and conceivably they may declare a national emergency) we will inevitably be heading for something far worse.

        On a more optimistic note, the Unions are also getting their act together too!


      • Perhaps they’ll declare a national emergency just before the election and postpone it indefinitely, broadening the Coalition to include the two Eds and a couple of others, Byrne, another misplaced Tory, would be an obvious choice. Frank Field, perhaps. One could argue Balls and co would agree as they appear to be basically on the same side. It would be nice to think Balls is limiting his pronouncements so as not to fall outside of what he perceives as the Overton window limits but I’m more incined to go with believing he’s simply an unprincipled thug who’ll say and do anything to get into power.


    • I suspect we’ll need a new political party. We’ll probably get one too. I can see Labour splitting into two and a lot of Libs and Tories joining one faction to form an anti-neoliberal party. I can also see Parliament as we know it going. It’s pretty damn useless anyway when ministers are routinely allowed to dodge any tricky question they like and get away with it without challenge. So is the Lords for the same reason. If Parliament did what it was supposed to do the present social problems wouldn’t be emerging. I think too we may be led by a council of councils for a while, a high council if you will. I note with approval that an anti-bedroom tax league of councils is already forming. Under further presure, and there’s lots more coming from the OBC, that could develop into something really substantial. What turns coal into diamonds? Pressure and there’s plenty on the way! See? I’m expecting more change than you 🙂


      • I’ll keep up my end of the pressure and hope that you’re right 🙂 I think you are correct in the potential for the LP to split. That is certainly the plan of Mandelson/Adonis et al… and to be fair John McDonnell. Like the LP, I also have the potential to change.. and will argue for wherever I see the best option for the ‘real change’.. Furthermore, I believe, that is the same change that we both want to see 🙂


  4. When I was growing up in the 1980’s, the IRA were mindless terrorists and Coal miners were communist militants whilst according to the Thatcher narrative, Argentina were invaders and she the Iron lady.

    Now I have grown up and seen and read for myself, that coal miners and steel workers were fighting for our future, the IRA were fighting for our freedom and Argentina could see Britain had no friends or diplomatic support.
    Now it would appear there is a New world Order, under the umbrella of Austerity sweeping the globe.
    A form of organised chaos which hides behind PR & spin and non news.
    What’s left of democracy needs to pull all the strings it possibly can.
    Or else the only option is to take a leaf out of the French and Irish model and have a revolution?


    • Other EU countries have already had their revolutions. Howerver here in the UK our aristocracy, the hidden landowners who milk us for taxes paid to them in the form of EU grants and subsidies, survive. Off with their heads, I say!


  5. I agree very much, it’s a “one term” smash and grab agenda. He wants to get as much of our public purse as possible handed over to corporate contracts. So he and his cronies can then “retire” to corporate positions and thence live off the public purse for evermore.


    • I think that might have been the plan but along the way at least Cameron, I’m sure, fell in love with the idea of being a politician. No doubt there are many others in the Tory heirarchy who want to stay in power and win the next election, always assuming they bother to have one and don’t just join up with Balls and co. and announce there’s no need for them any more. I think Cameron is a giant weak spot; he flusters easily, isn’t that bright, can’t think fast enough on his feet for PMQs and revealingly retreats all too often into bullying, bluster and increasingly overt dishonesty. His outright lying may well prove to one day be his undoing. I really don’t know why they don’t needle him more as he obviously can’t control himself. Well… sadly I do as Miliband’s just not man enough to do the job. He’s got an open goal in front of him every time he steps up to the dispatch box and he still manages to miss almost every time. getting back to Cameron, it’s easy to see why he’s picked as a front man because he’s got the right background (Eton and PR), a pretty wife (bit of awlright, wot?), disabled kiddie (ahhhh) so he gets the sympathy vote and of course he’s a belief-free zone, happy to do as he’s told. He’s got confused along the way though, forgotten too much of his Eton grooming. He thinks he’s in politics and he’s not, he’s a front man for people who simply have no use for such things as democracies but aren’t ready to reveal themselves just yet. He’s not going to want to get in and get out, he’s got his feet under the table and he’s going to want to stay. That could mess things up big-time for the one-worlders (theirs). Do they realise yet they’ve got a loose cannon on board? I doubt it 🙂


      • I like your take on Cameron and I’m sure that you’ve got a lot right in that assessment 🙂

        I also think that they believe the general public to be extremely stupid.. so anything is possible but I am pretty sure that Osborne intends to destroy the post-war settlement well within the 5y parliament to be on the ‘safe’ side! And I doubt if anything will stop him. Just as nothing stopped them over the NHS or will stop them over education.


      • I forgot to mention the importance of public schooling in Cameron’s psychological make-up. It explains his lack of empathy. The British public school is apparently unique, nNo other country having anything like it. Children are brutalised within it and deprived of much-needed social contact which is no doubt why they grow up lacking empathy. That explains how Cameron can have a disabled son and father but have no feelings towards other disabled people, evidenced in the appaling hardships the entirely unnecessary cuts are having on them. One wonders in whose interests it is the public school system has developed as it has, producing endless streams of unfeeling dysfunctionals who’s sole purpose in life seems to be the maintenance of a status quo favouring an elite over the rest of us. This feels planned. Who planned it? Who’s out there we don’t know about? This is like deducing the existence of invisibly small planets from the behaviour of other planets near them, isn’t it? 🙂


      • ‘This feels planned. Who planned it? Who’s out there we don’t know about? This is like deducing the existence of invisibly small planets from the behaviour of other planets near them, isn’t it?’

        I’m quite sure it is planned .. and over many decades not in 2010… at least since 1945. This starts sounding like ‘conspiracy theorists’ and the Libertarians but what do we think the Bilderberg group, Trilateral Commission, Council of International Relations, World Economic Forum etc are spending their time discussing? The aspect which is so extraordinary to me is the manner in which the same arguments and economic devices are implemented in every continent at more or less the same time. Eg China’s ‘liberalisation’ was more or less concurrent with the US and UK, with the Soviet Union following suit within the decade. The connections with the old aristocracy indicates that the ‘old money’ has continued to sway hold. For them, Secrecy is the over-riding imperative.


  6. Agree also your analysis of public cynicism too easily leading to feeling that it’s “all too complicated” and there’s “nothing we can do anyway”.

    It is complex, there’s a lot going on, in many areas of public expenditure. But one theme remains constant enough that people should be able to see and focus on it’s evil – our public purse is being handed over to corporatist empires. This government more than most any before it, is handing control and power away in the contracts they’re hoping to bind us into.

    If the “rag-tag army” can come together in focussing on one overriding evil, then maybe …


  7. Big Bill, you are right about European countries have had revolutions. French Revolution 1789 preceding the establishment of the Republic of France 1792. A fall of the Absolute Monarchy in France had effectively ended feudalism in that part of Europe. I have the understanding the liberals stood against the aristocrats there and then. It was very different from my perception of nowadays’ UK where the aristocrats seem to be in symbioses with the neo-liberals when following their common interests of gaining capital while disregarding the working class. It was different story in Russia in 1917 when the regime changed from Absolute Monarchy to Communism. The end of World War 1 was marked with revolutions in many other European Countries at around 1918 -1919. End of Habsburg Monarchy at that time gave rise to new republics such as Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Situation in Eastern Europe changed again when the demarcation line was drawn across Czech Republic after World War 2 in 1945 and divided the East from the West. The Eastern zone had fallen under the influence of the bolshevik Soviet Union while the Amerikans kept the West. An uprising swept across the whole Eastern and Central Europe in 1948 and ended capitalism in this part of Europe. All political parties, but the Communist Party were outlawed and Communist ideology was forced fed to the citizens, whether they liked it or not. People in Czechoslovakia did not agreed with the regime and started a revolution in 1968. Czechoslovakia neared itself to Social Democracy, trying to leave the harsh of Soviet Union Communism behind,but its neighbouring countries in the Eastern block.did not like it. Czechoslovakia was then attacked by 5 armies of the Warsaw Pact and turned back under the influence of Soviet Union by military force. The West did not intervene and another 21 years had passed before another uprising took place nearly simultaneously in the whole of Eastern block in 1989, preceded with Perestroika of Michael Gorbachev that had eased the political tensions and enabled for the revolutions. One country followed quickly another. The East united with the West in the years to come. Everyone in my country (I lived in Czech Republic) believed in the Western democracy. People in Czech republic are now dismayed with the economic situation they are in. I think they start to realize it twists the same right (wrong) direction in other EU countries too. People in Bulgaria took a more radical approach to solve it last week. I wonder what will happen next there. It doesn not seem to attract attention of UK media. Although, there are staggering differences between the two countries – Bulgaria and UK. Wealth is one of them, another, major one is Bulgaria had gone straight from Monarchy to Communism before it changed politically to Social Market or Capitalism, maybe even to neo-liberalism most recently? Bulgaria was consistently riddled with unrest and instability in past and its regimes changed more quickly. Unlike the UK, very politically stable and consistent, still being a constitutional monarchy in 21 century. UK is different scenario – it has not had Hitler and Stalin and the string of sharp right to left and back to right turns. I can see that what is happening in UK is reflecting in the rest of EU countries and vice versa. I think that the latest developments in some other EU countries are of dislike to UK and American neo-liberals, the bankers and profiteers; and to the aristocrats? Today’s situation in UK definitely cries out for steering the direction at least slightly left, otherwise it could end up going right in circles.


    • Thank you so much for taking the trouble to write so comprehensively. The political philosopher Van der Pilj describes how differently the trading traditions of the UK and US are from the rest of Europe. I believe that that is also hugely significant in explaining the different reactions of EU countries from the UK, at a time when there is a scramble to impose the Washington consensus on both the UK and the EU, through the WTO and the EU-US FTA. Unfortunately, the dislike/distrust of the US and aristocrats (who are also part of the power elite, the owners of the banks and corporations, the 0.014%) doesn’t seem so marked in the UK populace which leaves us very naive. In the case of the EZ countries, the greatest vulnerability lies in the adoption of the Euro which puts them in the hands of the bond markets.


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