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Tory Lies, can’t afford them

McDonnell has been hammering Austerity for years, only now people are listening

Eight years ago the Tories snuck in on the back of focus group polling which found that a sizeable proportion of the public were selfish bastards, only interested in the price of their house, and whether the next government was going to make it fall.  Around 2010 people didn't much like benefit claimants either and supported measures that  would hammer welfare scroungers.  Tory cruelty and contempt for the poor found themselves serendipitously in sync with a feeling in broader society about ten years ago.  Disillusioned with stagnating wages, the beginnings of the Labour force's new precariat, the drying up of graduate jobs, rising inequality, and the Iraq war, the public had had it with Blair's second generation Thatcherism.  Then, in the round of elections after 2008, every sitting European government, except one, was voted out.  People bought the lie that Labour were responsible for the recession.  They bought the lie that a nation's finances were just like household finances.  All they could think about was the "there's no money left" note.  This was the Tories big, and they took it.

They wasted no time in selling off what Britain collectively owns, like the NHS, by ramming the Health and Social Care Act, the first major piece of Tory legislation, through parliament as a white paper, without consulting the public because they knew we wouldn't consent to the privatisation of our Health Service.   Osborne and Cameron, unashamed disciples of Thatcher's free-market fundamentalist zealotry, called Blair "The Master".  They felt they had been given licence by the public to go about Thatcher's work with rocket-boosters on, wasting no time re-configuring the workforce by driving down wages, creating an economic landscape of zero-hours contracts and precarity, were QE boosted the assets of the already wealthy and the city boys raked it in.  The safety-net of the welfare state was attacked to the point that legions working long hours to earn their poverty would never think of taking issue with an employer, kept in line by "flexible" working laws, and debt peonage.   

Instead of hammering them on austerity from the outset, Labour shamefully slithered, cap-in-hand, toward a centre ground that had been yanked so far to the right it's off-screen.  Today, during McDonnell's speech in parliament where he decimated the budget and cogently, good-naturedly, highlighted the lies at the heart of the whole Tory narrative, I felt real anger, not at the Tories, but everyone in the Labour party who should have been calling the Tories out on their bullshit but were too afraid to because they didn't think it chimed with public opinion.  The welfare-cut supporting so-called moderates, too afraid to call out a Tory lie if they thought there was a vote in it.  So-called moderates too afraid to point out that Thatcher's neo-liberal revolution was an experiment and after almost forty years the results are in:  it's been an unmitigated failure by every measure except securing more wealth and power for the already wealthy and powerful.  Those that were saying this eight years ago have moved from the back-benches to the front benches, and it's time everyone in the party got behind McDonnell, or cross the floor and join the rest of the Thatcherites.

When Thatcher swerved the country in the wrong direction a corrective is needed, and that corrective must be directly proportionate to how far she swerved us to the right.  If a driver swerves into oncoming traffic, a crash cannot be prevented by steering back half-way.  There can be no half-measures when rolling out a huge programme of re-nationalisation beginning with the NHS, clipping the wings of the bankers at home, and putting manners on Saudi Arabia and Israel abroad.

If eight years of Tory austerity has demonstrated to the public what the Tories really are, and what happens under Tory mis-rule, then perhaps it was worth it.  Without the failure of Blairism in the face of the cruelty of Tory austerity a Labour once again true to its founding principles might not have once again arisen, forged in the fires of anger for social justice.  Without Cameron and Osborne there could have been no Corbyn and McDonnell on the front bench.  Cameron and Osborne had their go, and they used it to perform an act of socio-economic vandalism in the form of austerity: the greatest transference of wealth in human history.   Labour has an open goal and it can't allow itself to be tripped up by so-called moderates.  The public mood has changed since 2010. Labour knows, the Tories know, and the PLP know that no-one is buying Tory lies anymore, because in 2018 they can't afford them.