As you pull in to the petrol station on your way to work you see a big sign reading ‘Cash Only’ and remember there was something on the radio about a bank. Prudently you always carry some cash nso you pay £20 for petrol and hang on to £10. When you get to work there’s a bit of a row going on outside. Your colleagues are arguing with the manager who won’t let them in. Apparently the owner has rung him and told him there’s a problem with credit, whatever that means. “Does that mean we won’t get paid?” The manager doesn’t know and the owner can’t be reached.
After a while you decide to go home. On the way you pass a couple of banks and notice the growing queue’s outside. You decide it’s be wise to to up with cash but after waiting for two hours a message comes up the line that the bank has locked its doors, they’ve run out of money. As you head for home you hear the sounds of breaking glass and the car radio reports rioting and looting across America and Europe. The Home Secretary has called an urgent meeting with the Defence Secretary and the army is being called in to restore order.
The reason that did not happen in 2008 was that Gordon Brown, the late and unlamented PM, quickly realised what needed to be done and borrowed billions of pounds to re-capitalise the banks and prevent their collapse. Those billions, borrowed at low interest over long terms and, mainly, from us (UK pension funds etc.) is the reason for the ‘debt mountain’ that Cameron and Osborne inherited.
Nothing to do with profligate Labour spending although Labour did make mistakes. In order to rebuild Britain’s collapsing infrastructure (remember the leaking hospital roofs, the schools that were literally falling apart, the railways?) Blair and Brown continued John Major’s policy of PFI, it wasn’t a good idea. When Osborne took over in 2010 UK was just at the very beginning of a recovery, so what went wrong? Ideology got in the way of common sense.
Introducing austerity and raising VAT were precisely the wrong things to do.Bankers bonuses may have been restrained but many of those people, who caused the problems, have continued to be protected whilst the most vulnerable have suffered. It’s a biblical principle to look out for the poor, those least able to look out for themselves. We have not. We have kicked them in the teeth.
So, when I vote this Thursday I shall take a long look in the mirror (never a pretty sight) and ask myself what is the moral way to vote, self-interest for the short term, or community interest for my children’s children.