Austerity consensus at Westminster

There’s very little in the media today about the Charter for Budget Responsibility agreed yesterday in Parliament. This commits the next Government to balance the Budget within three years. Which will mean another three years of austerity politics and up to another £30 billion of cuts and deteriorating public services.

Widely seen as a trick by Osborne to paint the Labour Party as untrustworthy spendthrifts, the two Eds decided to bravely challenge it. By voting for it. At the end of the day therefore, in a massive show of parliamentary solidarity, the Charter was supported by 515 votes to just 18. That’s a grand coalition of Tories, Lib Dems, Ukip and all but five Labour MPs voting to condemn us to another three years of austerity politics. Of course, a mixture of cuts and taxes could be used to reduce the deficit. Or even taxes on the rich. But I wouldn’t put any money on it.

The Tories actually want to go further and create a Budget surplus, which means even more cuts on top of the £30 billion. This results in what the IFS calls a ‘stark contrast’ between Tories and Labour. Well, I suppose it is if you regard the Tories’ more than £30 billion of cuts (and a few extra taxes) as starkly different from Labour’s £30 billion of cuts (and definitely some extra taxes).

While the four neo-liberal parties play their macho games of who is toughest on the Budget (and the rest of us), those voting against another three years of austerity were Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the SDLP, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, one DUP MP and those five Labour MPs. Meanwhile, all six Cornish MPs voted for three more years of unnecessary austerity politics. That’s the three Lib Dems who tell us we have to vote for them to stop the Conservatives. And the three Conservatives who tell us we have to vote for them to stop the Lib Dems.

Are we bovvered?

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