The blind Chancellor who cannot see the crisis

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PCS  banners on last Saturday’s march to mark the third anniversary of the war on Iraq
PCS banners on last Saturday’s march to mark the third anniversary of the war on Iraq

CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown yesterday could not see and would not even hear of a crisis in the British capitalist economy that he has presided over for the last nine years.

No doubt he is hoping for a crisis-free shoeing into Blair’s job, and does not want to even think of any events that could torpedo his self promotion plans.

He told MPs that the debt ridden, industry free British economy with its record balance of trade crisis, and its over £1.3 trillion of household debt, with its growing rate of house repossessions and personal bankruptcies, is in perfect condition, and defying the laws of the capitalist crisis in a way that the much bigger economies of the US, France and Germany were simply unable to do. This ‘miracle’ is of course all down to him.

He said, moving further into the realms of delusion: ‘The British economy is strong and strengthening.’

He added: ‘Indeed even when facing, in succession, the Asian crisis, the IT bubble, an American recession, Euro area stagnation, and most recently the challenge of the oil shock and house price inflation – challenges which in previous decades led to British recessions – our economic framework for stability has proved robust and prudent.’

And he continued: ‘As I have said before Mr Deputy Speaker: No return to boom and bust.’

Perhaps he has not heard about the busted state of the economies of those who have had their final salary pension schemes smashed by the crisis, with the government and his Treasury refusing to give them assistance. And then there are the 1.5 million public sector workers, due to strike next Tuesday against the government’s efforts to slash their pension schemes. Then there are the millions who face paying several thousands of pounds more next year because of out of control and highly inflationary energy prices, and council taxes. Plus the tens of thousands of NHS workers who face the sack due to his PFI and NHS privatisation.

The real world however did get a look in when he moved to try and show the initiated that he knew more than he was prepared to publicly admit to. He said: ‘And I am publishing a new memorandum of understanding agreed between the treasury, bank of England and financial services authority, so that Britain has in place the most up to date early warning and response system to deal with risks to economic stability.

The ‘everything is wonderful man’ is building an early warning system capable of detecting the economic Tsunami.

He added: ‘And we will take no risks with inflation at home.’ In other words he is ready for sky high interest rates, when the dyke busts.

This is why ‘The public sector pay settlements will average at just 2.25 per cent’ – ‘part of the vigilance and discipline in the fight against inflation.’

Vigilance will be very necessary since he proposes borrowing £175 billion in the years till 2010-2011.’

The rest was good news for big business. ‘In the last budget I announced that Britain would pioneer risk based regulation. And today the government publishes our new code based on a legal requirement for inspection only where there is risk.’

This means inspections after the disaster, not before, as at Buncefield.

There are also to be further privatisations. ‘We plan total sales by 2010 of £30 billion, releasing finance for our front line priorities.’

Plus the announcement that 40,000 civil service jobs had been cut, and the introduction of the employer as the central figure in education, more important than the teacher. Brown said: ‘The secretary for education is announcing for each college a step change in employer involvement so that we can better match the demand for skills to the courses on offer. And she is also announcing new powers to redirect resources from failing courses to the best courses the ones individuals, employees and employers want to use.’

This goes along with by-passing local authorities and handing £440 million direct to head teachers.’

Brown’s budget is cowardly and opportunist, hiding the economic crisis, and calculated to try to ensure that he gets Blair’s job, by not infuriating either the trade unions or big business.

Meanwhile the storm clouds of the capitalist crisis are gathering overhead.