George Osborne would have us believe that the economy is “turning a corner” when going round the bend might be a better description.
The Chancellor claims that his economic plan is working and seeks to score political points over what he calls Labour’s obsession with increasing government debt by borrowing to invest.
He ignores the fact that his original projections have proved to be fantasies as he has borrowed far more than planned to finance the consequences of his austerity agenda and continally extended the deadline for paying off debt.
Osborne exposes the conservative coalition’s concern for just one tiny section of society — the richest — in passing off a bubble based on rising house prices and increased consumer spending as “tentative signs of a balanced, broad-based and sustainable recovery.”
For most working people, recovery is a mirage as living standards continue to plummet.
The average worker has seen wages fall in real terms by £30 a week since the crisis unleashed by the private banking system struck Britain.
Ed Miliband will tell the TUC today that living standards have been falling for longer than at any time since 1870, that only the privileged few feel better off and that City bonuses were up 82 per cent in April, assisted by a five-point cut in the top rate of income tax.
But it is not enough for the Labour leader to rail against an unfair and unequal recovery.
He has to move beyond triangulation and spin to make political capital. The opposition has to drop its acceptance of the Tory/Liberal Democrat article of faith that the cost of bailing out the banks must be covered by slashing public spending, axing services, making workers jobless and raiding pension funds.
Labour politicians portray adherence to capitalist economic orthodoxy as showing responsibility. It is no such thing.
It illustrates a cosy, parliamentary consensus behind the bankers’ agenda that treats the wealth of the haves as sacrosanct and the precarious gains of the working class as ripe for plucking.
Neither Miliband nor shadow chancellor Ed Balls has shed any light on the alternatives they will propose to the toxic anti-worker policies rolled out by Osborne. Miliband and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna have homed in on zero-hours contracts, promising to ban their “exploitative use.”
However, it remains to be seen what the Labour leader’s personal envoy to corporate Britain — former Morrisons human resources director Norman Pickavance — will come up with.
Is that the only scrap that Miliband will throw to TUC delegates after antagonising trade unionists over union finance of his party?
Harriet Harman told the TUC general council dinner last night that among things that the unions had got right and the party wrong was council housing — “as well as repairing masses of council homes we should have built more new ones.”
Does this indicate a change of heart, a change of policy or simply a throwaway line?
House prices are rising above inflation because of acute shortages of housing while five million people languish on council waiting lists.
People are robbed every day because privateers now run our railways, gas, electricity and water. They are sniffing round our Royal Mail.
It’s time that Miliband listened not only to the unions but also to the wider public who are far in front of Labour on public ownership and much more besides.