Friday, 4 December 2015

0sborne`s "hard choices"

Whilst your Leader did describe Osborne`s "hard choices" as "increasingly self-inflicted", and rightly argued that the austerity policies are "political choices" rather than economic necessities, it failed to make the obvious point (Leader,27 November,2015). The so-called "hard choices", which he boasts are now "paying off", are, in fact, the easiest decisions a Tory chancellor can make. Cutting benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, shielding his party`s key supporters from the effects of austerity, refusing to make the wealthiest pay their fair share, and ignoring the need for financial institutions to be strictly regulated are all default positions for Osborne. What was difficult about selling RBS shares a few weeks ago for £1.1bn less than their real value, just to benefit his hedge-fund friends?
   What would be really "hard choices" would include ones which increase fairness in the taxation system, like a "modest land tax" or an increase in income tax for the wealthy, and which deal effectively with tax avoidance by increasing co-operation in Europe, forcing multinationals to file a single European tax return, and thereby offending the eurosceptics in his own party. How can protecting pensioners, the majority of whom vote Tory, from austerity be possibly thought of as a difficult decision? Joining the majority of EU members in imposing a Financial Transaction tax next January might be judged a difficult decision for him, but only because it would offend many Tory donors. "Hard choices" for Osborne would entail commitments which have the potential to upset Tory voters, something that he is clearly reluctant to do; imposing austerity measures on people traditionally regarded as Labour supporters, or non-voters, cannot be described as such. 


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