Is This Our Poll Tax Moment?

Yesterday the Coalition killed the NHS

 while today George Osborne announced a budget that gave rich people a tax cut and everyone else basically sod all.

The middle classes have lost child benefit and people on low incomes and the disabled have had a massive kicking. Pensioners have also lost out – Osborne took £3 billion off the elderly to fund cutting the 50 pence tax rate.

Ed Miliband (on surprisingly good form) called it a “budget for millionaires”

and although some of the Blairite legislation helped turn Britain into a paradise for the super-rich, I don’t think that even Nu Labour would have had the bare faced cheek to come out with something as eye-wateringly regressive as this.

If you’re a statistics geek you may enjoy this:

It’s analysis from the excellent Left Foot Forward blog, which I’ve been following for a while now. They do great work and I thoroughly recommend reading their site if you want to get to grips with all the bad stuff that’s going on. I met their resident economist Cormac Hollingsworth a few months back and he is a total genius. I was impressed.

To be honest, I’ve stayed away from my normal obsessive trawling of news websites/social media today, as I couldn’t face getting that angry. I had students in the morning and my own kids to look after in the afternoon and it was probably for the best that I was kept busy by real people doing real things.

However, as you can see, the working/child wrangling day is over and I’m ready to rant.

I guess two things are on my mind.

Firstly, is this our “poll tax moment”? In other words, is this dog egg double whammy of undermining the NHS/lining the pockets of the super rich, the tipping point? Us Brits don’t really like to make a fuss, although if I see another “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster I will SCREAM.

This is more my style:

To return what I was trying to say – albeit somewhat incoherently – is this the moment that we decide enough is enough and start smashing stuff up?

I’m far too petit bourgeouis to ever contemplate such behaviour; I went on the Poll Tax March back in 1990 and left early before it ever got violent.

I remember being genuinely shocked by the news that night – my memories are not of riots and looting, but old ladies  in cardigans and smiley babies in buggies being wheeled along in the Spring sunshine. I remember I was wearing white jeans (it was 1990) which were slightly too tight to be genuinely comfortable, but other than that, I had a lovely day.

So you can imagine how shocked I was by this:

Although this level of violence makes me shudder, the riots did two wonderful things. They got rid of the hated Poll Tax – an utterly regressive tax that made everyone – rich, poor, old, young, working, unemployed – pay the same for local services in a specific area. So, for example, in Camden, where I live, a single mum on benefits or a student would be paying the same amount in poll tax as a millionaire living in an 8 bedroom mansion in Hampstead.

Almost as wrong as privatising the NHS or funding tax cuts for the rich with cuts in tax credits/child benefit etc etc.

You get my drift.

The Poll Tax riots also sent Mrs Thatcher packing – less that six months after it kicked off in Trafalgar Square, Thatch was gone. I remember listening to this on the radio as a student and being blown away by the pictures of her leaving Downing Street.

I’m not advocating we all go on the rampage tonight – I’m way too tired to join in – but I guess what I want to know is HOW MUCH MORE CAN WE TAKE?

About a year or so ago, I read this:

If you haven’t read it already, please do so. It’s a brilliant book and chronicles the way in which neo-liberal ideology  – in particular the strain developed by Chicago School economists such as Milton Friedman – has wrought havoc around the world. From Pinochet’s Chile to post Soviet Russia and Mandela’s South Africa, Klein shows what happens when the values of the “market” are allowed to run riot.

The term “shock doctrine” refers to the brutality of the policies, but Klein also shows how the ideology takes place in response to some “crisis”, either real or imagined. In Thatcher’s Britain, industry was destroyed as the government was determined to control inflation via control of the money supply – the real agenda, some have suggested, was to raise unemployment to push down wages and break the unions – this theory is put much more clearly  than I am doing now in the Adam Curtis documentary The League of Gentlemen (part of the 1992 series: Pandora’s Box).

We are living through times where the likes of David Cameron and George Osborne have created a narrative of crisis – the deficit – and used this as justification for some of the most socially regressive policies imaginable. Ramping up student fees, cutting the DLA, using the benefit cap to destroy communities, cutting tax credits, destroying the NHS, opening up the education system to private edu-business.

Yada, yada, yada…

I’d love to think that the Lib Dems would do the decent thing  and pull the plug on this sorry affair but I’m afraid they’re too drunk on their own power to do so.

I think we’re in for a very interesting summer…

This entry was published on March 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Is This Our Poll Tax Moment?

  1. I remember those white jeans and I remember our protest songs. From afar, I can’t believe what’s happening. It’s almost enough for me to claim my expat vote.

  2. I’m loving this. The rants are rising in me. What is your twitter account? I can’t find you and want to tag you in a tweet. N.

    • I’m afraid I don’t actually tweet – my husband @robmanuel is the tweeter (with 10,000 followers).
      I’m on fb but steered clear of twitter as I knew that a) I’d soon be addicted a b) would become too needy!

      But feel free to tweet a link to the rants – that would be great!

  3. Yes I have tweeted and a friend with thousands has also tweeted. It s addictive, I’ll tag in your husband in future 🙂

  4. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that the LibDems haven’t done a great deal more to derail this Tory led dismantling of our nation’s institutions. Well said.

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