Monday 25 June 2012

Are there really votes in Reality?

David Cameron's bold statements today on welfare look set to pave a new way forward for the political debate on public spending.

One thing the Government has grasped is that we are spending as a nation far too much money on Government sponsored handouts of one form or another. With the deficit stubbornly refusing to move, so holy cows will have to be slaughtered to right the Country's balance sheet.

The basic tenet that some of the more egregious benefits such as constant support for those who choose to have many children, support for those who could live at home etc should not really be that controversial. However, it always will be as the Government is taking away free money potentially - no one is going to be happy about that. Worse, with no tax cuts in sigh for the masses of taxpayers, this could well be a policy with no beneficiaries. Those who lose money are angry and those who still pay high taxes are still unhappy.

This is an unfortunate dilemma for any government in the UK which needs to be faced in the near future. benefits have been pushed beyond the means of the Country to pay them. This has allowed Labour to develop its own client base of voters - which of course is why this was allowed to happen in the first place.

The killer question is are the general public able to see the basic economic rational behind these sorts of policies. Or will the opposition and media whip up a frenzy of the poor being attacked by rich Bullingdon Tories?

Whether or not these proposals go anywhere, this is simply the key battleground in UK politics for the next 5 years. Either the reality-deniers win by promises of pure populism and dismal financial management or the conservatives win and manage to roll-back the state to something just-about-affordable. Sadly, I think the money at the moment would have to go on the reality deniers.


andrew said...

At a garden party sunday afternoon with a load of hospital Consultants and Nurses. This subject came up.
They were fairly well set against any reduction in benefits.
When I pointed out that they were busy paying for their child's housing and they were also paying for other peoples housing through taxes, they were less firm.
When I pointed out that the money saved could be spent on the NHS instead, some changed their mind.
When I pointed out it could go on a pay rise for public sector employess, they seemed to move against reducing benefits.

The argument needs to be factually correct, well framed, clearly and convincingly put across, appeal to self interest, but not too much.

A bit like the footie team last night, I am sure Cameron will make a good and workmanlike attmept, but when you need 100% effectiveness, will deliver 60%.

So, basically I think ND is correct.

SumoKing said...

The client voters argument is trotted out time and again and is just wrong. It's that sort of half arsed guesswork that got us a limpy coalition in the first place.

The people described as 'client voters' don't vote. The vast majority of people on benefits and with 40 mangy kids who think all MPs are the same and just want immigrants banned so they can not take a job in an imaginary unskilled worker heavy shoe factory don't vote.

The right needs to a get a grip on some sane polices that the people who vote, will vote for. Benefit reduction/caps, low, simple, recoverable flat taxes, less corporate welfare especially when it yields no return, quango slaughter, international AID is for the private individual to give.

A couple of less panicked limp wristed U turns on flagship policies that were apparently going to save the nation would also help.

Blaming the 70s unionised client voter bogeyman just fcuks off anyone not working in boardrooms of the City.

ThomasBHall said...


I'm usually all for reduction of benefits and not encouraging the work-shy- but this proposal doesn't do it for me.

The young in this country already have to pay a load for their university education, coming out into a terrible job market, with no security of employment, no pension prospects, and totally unaffordable housing.

I've been lucky, but even on a six figure income, have had to move to the arse end of commuter-ville to afford somewhere where I can have a family (I'm 27 and recently become a father). Frankly, to take away housing benefit for under 25s is to add insult to injury.

First, the banks push up a speculative land bubble, pricing out all the young but the privileged, the crappy remaining council housing is given to "those in need" rather than those who deserve, and then the state says it won't make any of it more bearable with financial assistance to try and rebalance things.

I reckon Dave simply knows the under 25s are so screwed already and refuse to vote, they won't make any difference in an election so he can screw them.

Build more houses, deflate the land price bubble, and housing benefit is not going to be much of an issue. Keep the land owners in pocket with low interest rates and restrictive planning permission, then take away what little recompense is given to those disenfranchaised, and sit back and watch the riot.

Jan said...

They need to just get on with it eg winter fuel allowance. A whole government department (part of DWP)could be cut and they could add a bit on the pension instead. This would also simplify the system and anyone who can afford it would have money clawed back via taxation. Poor pensioners would have a bit extra on their pensions so wouldn't be any worse off. I don't know how it's so hard to "sell" this to the general population. There are many other examples affecting other groups eg tax credits.

They've been pussy-footing around for too long.

London Business said...

He need to provides help to SMEs. Entrepreneur Jonathan Scott believes that by creating a Small Business Employment Contract, the governemenmt can stimulate UK growth and employment.

Anonymous said...

Cameron is steering a very large juganaut through a very narrow and twisted street, people would be more aligned with him if folks did not see others getting massive subsidies, which probably taken into account everything included, would belittle the cuts he is propsing. Unemployment is all right if it is the other chap, but when it personally affects them personally it is a big problem, I can remember when I was made redundant 32 years ago our workshop had been treated like a meeting room, once the hatchet men had got to work I was the only one left and probably fear of catching the contagion, that didn't help more left after I did. There are jobbies out there but whether a once high flyer on a hundred grand made redundant would take is very doubtful, even high earners are not above being made redundant.

hovis said...

Agreed we cant go on as we are however, point (including some that others have made):

(i) Cameron is corporatist, he is Heath II. As such pronouncements like this appear to be soundbites only to keep theparty faithful nodding that he's aTory underneath it all.

(ii) Politics is the art of the possible. There IS huge waste in the public sector but cuts are hardky ever in the wasteful sectors. It makes sense for cutting managers to make sure that which is cut makes most noise (and so is harder to implement.)

(iii) There is huge slack not only in non jobs but in corporate welfare, when we come to think of tax and benefits as two sides of the same coin.

(iv) As pointed out elsewhere to truly cut spending we need to reduce the scope of what the state does, not just spend less. For example the large amount spent on the NHS - even modest proposals (whether workable or not is not the point) have been bogged down and the doctors want everybody to pay for their very large salaries and pensions. Cameron does not seems to be proposing this, he will therefore
fail even if he were serious.

(v) Any action needs to be seen to bring benefit not just nebulous numbers, as it is true at the end of the day people are really only happy with such chnages for the commongood if either it doesnt affect them or they see all affected. If not a high political price will be paid.

So yes, it won't happen we will need a bigger reset before anything happens.

john in cheshire said...

Too few local and central government posts have been axed. When I see queues of social outreach workers and sustainable development advisers (or whatever all these non-jobs are called), outside the job centres then I'll start to believe that there is something being done to reduce the cost of government in our country.

CityUnslicker said...

Great comments all today thanks. Re the Client State issue, you can see it exists from voting patterns. It is not just the jobless, but the whole public sector where wages and pensions have been jacked up - I don't blame people for not wanting to change their own fortunate cuircumstances - but it does make Reality politics difficult.

As for the housing issue - this has little to do with housing benefit, the main culprit is planning. We needed another million houses but the land is not released or permitted, so we don't get it and prices remain high. Subsidising people for the first mistake is a case of two wrongs not making a right.

I hope Andrew is right and that people can be persuaded of th merits of reality over fantasy.

Anonymous said...

ThomasBHall is so right. I teach 17-19yr olds on day release. They are all in work! So a 24 yr old could have been in full-time work for 7 yrs, with a house and family, before being made redundant. And he won't get housing benefit because of his age? And Cameron thinks he should go home to mama and papa? Who may be drunk/on drugs/abusive/dead? We don't all have millionaire parents you know. And the 24 yr old sees Mr Immigrant whose never paid a days tax in his life given a house and everything free? And bankers given trillions for failure? And f-ing millionaires paying 1% tax?

Nah man. This government policy is bollocks.

Said Philipa

SumoKing said...

Re the Client State issue, you can see it exists from voting patterns. It is not just the jobless, but the whole public sector where wages and pensions have been jacked up - I don't blame people for not wanting to change their own fortunate cuircumstances - but it does make Reality politics difficult.

Right, just no. You're talking about people who are a bit left now and they are almost always going to vote labour because they have no where else to go.

The same is true of people who are just a bit right, they will vote tory with the inevitable predictability of the battered wife/football supporter voter because they have nowhere else to go.

Both groups have been absolutely raped by their respective spouse/team Parties in their attempts to capture votes from people who think about things and who might want something a bit different.

If the client state bogeyman existed the SNP would not have won 2 terms in scotland

James Higham said...

Get rid of fake charities and quangos while we're there.

Electro-Kevin said...

It wasn't done because of the Labour client base. It wasn't just Labour that did it.

Along with mass immigration this act was to rub the noses of conservative minded people in it.

The same motives drive right-on commedians. The delight they take from offending people is exquisite.

From the Tories point of view they fear a violent backlash too. As with the IRA and Poll Tax demonstrators they cave in.

Hard working taxpayers are compliant and so pose no threat.

Budgie said...

1. Political party promises goodies.
2. Political party gets elected.
3. Government delivers goodies (well sometimes).
4. Government discovers goodies cost a lot more than they thought.
5. Government discovers 'undeserving' are benefiting from goodies.
6. Government employs hordes of civil servants to police distribution of goodies.
7. Hordes of civil servants cost more than ever.
8. Government cuts back on goodies, keeps hordes of civil servants.
9. Costs of goodies directorate still too high.
10. Government axes goodies to appeal to their core voters, but redeploys hordes of civil servants to other government jobs.
11. Government more inefficient than ever.

CityUnslicker said...

nailed that one Budgie.

CityUnslicker said...

SumoKing - no it was not ever thus, Thatcher had a wide base of working class support. To say all these people are lefties is disingenuous, there is a good reason Labour became popular and why they sought o increase immigration as EK says. Brown was a very conniving man indeed.

I could also argue that re Scotland, the SNP shows the rejection of a client state organism - which gives me some hope!

Anonymous said...

"Reality Politics" if that wasn't so tragic it would be funny - so many 'haves' so happy to vilify the poorest yet ignore the rich whose wrongs are a different order of magnitude.

You think benefits are too high? Try living on them. And when considering housing benefit consider reports that only 1 in 8 people who claim housing benefit are unemployed? IDS and those in government are lying scum who feed the rich and starve the poor. End of.

Said Philipa. But everyone ignores me when I comment on something that's "reality" for me yet isn't for all I know here.

Anonymous said...

I think it is worth comparing somewhere like Ebbw Vale with Swindon.

Swindon is conveniently placed on the M4 and has attracted a lot of industry looking for people prepared to work for low wages. Unemployment is very low.

Ebbw Vale has not been succesful in attracting new jobs to the town since the end of industry in Wales. Unemployment is very high. Those with jobs are working for the state to provide state services to the rest of Ebbw Vale while the rest of Ebbw Vale contributes nothing to the broader community.

So, do we take from this comparison that the people of Ebbw Vale are workshy whilst the people of Swindon have a strong work-ethic? I doubt it. What we should learn from this is that people will work and contribute to the broader community if there are jobs available for them to do. There are few entreprenuers in a town like Ebbw Vale. They need someone smarter to bring the jobs to them - or the opportunity and encouragement to move away from Ebbw Vale to a place where there are jobs.

Labour and the Tories have consistently failed people living in areas of high unemployment and the Tories are going to do so again. This is one of the many reasons why people are turning their backs on these parties - they are run by a bunch of posh boys with no idea of what is going worng with this country. The BBC and the Daily Mail are happy to perpetuate the myths of people not prepared to work for their own authoritarian ends. They focus on the 1% of people that are never prepared to work, rather than the poor unfortunates left high and dry in mining towns, steel towns, dockyard towns.

There are only 250,000 households where nobody has every worked. That covers abnout 1% of the population. It doesn't account for the unemployment in the rest of the country which averages 8% but can be as high as 15% in many towns. Those that have no intention of working are not the best to be forced into work - they are probably best left semi-institutionalised anyway. We need to concentrate on the 7% that want to work but can't work - and that means helping companies to expand and helping people re-locate.

CityUnslicker said...

Anons - but I have lived on less than benefits, the expereince drove me to try and be successful and never have to do that again.

There is too much moral equiavlence too (@5.07) - it is not the fualt of the rich that poor people are poor and vice versa. Envy will get us nowhere. Neither is anyone suggesting we do not have a welfare safety net for all. But a path to success for all implies the net must be enough but not too much.

As for Eebw Valley - as you rightly say at the end

Anonymous said...

CU - well aren't you the Tory golden boy eh? You sound like one of the four yorkshiremen: and you tell that the kids today and they won't believe you!

I'm not 'Anon" I'm Philipa, as I stated. Clearly because I couldn't/can't sign in as me.

'Anon' is wrong. Ignorant and wrong. If people don't starve in this country WHY THE FUCKING HELL HAVE I HAD TO BUY FOOD ON CREDIT CARD? Which I can't any more.

God help us.

Said Philipa

ThomasBHall said...

Agree- massive housebuilding required. Do not agree that it is not the fault of the rich that poor people are poor.

If you are a landowner in this country, you can sit back and enjoy the fruit of other people's labour, just so they have somewhere to live.

The government, made up of rich people, steer us towards inflation, destoying the wealth of those too poor to own land (which is not really effected by inflation).

Currency laws (written by rich people), ensure that poor people have to work for, transact in, and save in money subject to devaluation by said people.

Taxation has moved from an activity largely the responsibility of the rich, to an activity largely ignored by the rich.

Lastly, big corporates are favoured in law, bailed out, and have anti-free-market barriers given to them to reduce the ability for poor people to compete.

Some of these issues are not solvable, but by moving tax intake onto the rentable value of land, a number would go away and the playing field would become a lot more level.

I do not, by the way, see it as the case that rich people would always be responsible for keeping the poor poor, and there are many that do not. Ryanair/Tesco/Apple bosses are rich by making others richer. But the vast majority of rich today trace their wealth back to land inheritance, speculation and rent.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the rich make people poor. In the end they do not eat more than the rest of us or live in the kind of houses we do. Planning permission is used to keep us from affordable housing but we the people are more to blame for that than anybody. We make it difficult to build new homes whilst remaining sanguine in the face of mass immigration which suits the landowners - but we have it in our power to change that, but don't.