Consider these two facts.
When Cameron and Osborne came to power in 2010, the UK’s National Debt was £979 BILLION, which amounted to 65% of GDP.
The latest figures, which are for 2016, show that the UK’s National Debt was then £1.73 TRILLION, which amounted to 89% of GDP. By May 2017, the National Debt has doubled - or nearly doubled - after seven years of Coalition and Tory rule.
In 2010, Cameron and Osborne wanted the Deficit (the annual gap between income and expenditure) and the Debt (the total amount owed by the government) to be at the centre of the public debate in the UK.
In 2017, May does not want the two facts above to be highlighted.
The UK’s mainstream media have faithfully followed the Tory wishes both in 2010 and now. Their failure to hold the Tories to account on this and most other issues is an appalling dereliction of their democratic duty.
In 2010 and following, print media and broadcasters talked about Deficit and Debt incessantly.
They failed to hold Osborne to account when he said that the UK was on the brink of bankruptcy. That was a barefaced lie. If the UK’s Debt meant this was true in 2010, how can the Tory narrative that the economy is doing well in 2017 also be true, when the Debt is now double that of 2010?
All this matters hugely because it was the Deficit and Debt narrative that the Tories used to justify their programme of austerity. If anyone had the temerity to oppose austerity they were derided in the media - including by BBC correspondents - as a “Deficit-denier”.
Austerity was a con, perpetrated primarily on the poorest in society but also on many in the middle of society. Austerity did not touch the 1% - UK’s “elites”.
Austerity was not justified by economics. Leading economists including Nobel laureates warned in 2010 that austerity would not work. They have been proved right with low growth, stagnant wages, crumbling infrastructure and a doubling of the Debt in seven years. Admittedly, they were wrong about mass unemployment - instead millions are trapped working in insecure jobs for poverty wages.
The Deficit and Debt narrative was used as an excuse to allow the Tories to impose an ideological Thatcherite vision on the UK. This was to have the State as small as possible.
Austerity led to an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
By 2013, child poverty was rising sharply, Oxfam and the Red Cross were helping the poor in the UK for the first time since WW2, Sure Starts had closed, as had libraries. Life for millions in UK was very bleak and to get bleaker.
At the same time, the wealth of the rich - the top 1% and particularly the top 0.1% - saw very large increases.
Very few people will get the opportunity to press Theresa May on live TV in this election. I dream that one of them will do so without fear or favour. Here are some questions I would like asked of the PM.
- The National Debt has doubled since 2010. Since then the Tories have sold off many public assets. They have not invested much in infrastructure. They have made swingeing cuts. Where has all the money gone?
- If depriving severely disabled people of benefits was justified because of the Debt, how could it at the same time be right to slash Inheritance Tax?
- Isn’t the truth that the cuts to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society were not motivated by a desire to reduce the Debt but by an ideological obsession to reduce the size of the State? It was a con, wasn’t it PM?
- Have you seen I, Daniel Blake? No? Well, you really should prime minister. Ken Loach has done what Dickens did for the Victorians and Orwell did in the 1930s - that is he has revealed to the comfortable middle class what is going on for the poor and vulnerable in their country. As PM and as a professed Christian, I would urge you to see the film and act on it.
- I have here a list of leading Tory donors. These people have prospered greatly since 2010. It looks like some kind of deal - they fund you, you look after them. What do you say PM?
- Thank you
Blog amended on 16 May to say National Debt has doubled - OR NEARLY DOUBLED - between 2010 and May 2017