The Tory Conference has focused my mind on the dissembling ‘narrative’ that is being used to justify the programme of Austerity and Cuts.
Every single time a Tory is interviewed on the media at least once they say something like “we have to take tough choices to clear up the mess left us by Labour” and/ or “the crisis is a result of the debt caused by Labours irresponsible overspending”. Lets call this the “it’s All Labours Fault” narrative or the A.L.F narrative. A.L.F can then be married with T.I.N.A (There Is No Alternative) and B.O.B’s your uncle (Baffle Obfuscate and Bewilder) the whole crazy ideological enterprise is presented to the patriotic Daily Mail reading public as just ‘common sense”.
The fact that the A.L.F narrative is a lie is illustrated in great detail by a brilliant new myth-busting pamphlet by The Centre For Labour Studies called, Austerity Illusions And Debt Delusions. It can be downloaded for free from here. This is a quote from the pamphlet:
“Many have argued that debt had to be cut and public sector borrowing reduced. But this is not true. The labour government started the 2008 crisis with nearly the lowest public debt to GDP ratio in its history. The debt ratio fell from 43% in 1997 to 36.7% under pre-crisis Labour¹². Under the impact of the crisis and the banking rescue, it rose to just over 50% at the time of the election¹³. Both of these figures are historically, and internationally low. In fact they are close to the lowest in 300 years!”
The reality is that Labour was not a high-spending ‘Socialist’ government and the debt the Tories inherited was almost entirely due to the bail-out of the Neoliberal Capitalist system instigated to save that system from it’s worst self-inflicted failure since 1929.
So why aren’t Labour making this point themselves? Because the argument would in essence end up being this: “New Labour was not a profligate government because it actually continued the Neoliberal policies of Margaret Thatcher and ultimately under Blair & Brown New Labour was executing the same economic strategy as proposed by the Tories”. So the reason why the Tory Party was in such disarray during the Blair years was because New Labour had nicked all their policies. And the reason New Labour is so despised by moderate lefties, even the Left of the Labour Party, is because Labour was elected in ’97 as an alternative to the Neoliberal economics of the Tories but in fact covertly continued to carry them out. “At least Thatcher had the balls to say what she stood for”.
So Labour can’t deny the A.L.F narrative because it exposes them as being Tories!
This in turn creates a huge problem for everyone trying to fight Austerity & Cuts because the A.L.F narrative goes unchallenged in the mainstream allowing the Tories to paint anyone resisting the cuts as fiscally irresponsible or ignorant.
Challenging the A.L.F narrative is the single most important (and difficult) challenge facing the Left if we are to prevent the post-war Welfare State being totally dismantled in the name of reducing ‘Labour’s Debt’. We have to get across the message, in the mainstream, that the debt is not Labour’s Debt but Capitalism’s Debt.