Thursday, 21 October 2010

Tory pay-back time

There were  obscene cheers from the Tory benches after Osbourne had delivered  the CSR yesterday. Shadow chancellor Alan Johnson was quite right in putting their unconcealed glee down to  the long-awaited fulfillment of a Tory ideological vision. 

Forget their home-spun bullshit about diligent housekeeping - the Tories have never liked the welfare state and generally think that the working masses perform better without a safety net - presumably it sharpens our attention.

It has always been so: The welfare state's origins do not lie in the  1945 Labour Government, but - ironically - in Lloyd George's Liberal government before the Great War.

The Old Age Pensions Act of 1908, the People's Budget of 1909, and  the National Insurance Act of 1911 were the building blocks of the benefits system.  Lloyd Gerorge talked about moving out of 'the shadow of the work-house'. In truth the reforms came about largely because the Liberals were leaning on the support of a newly-enfranchised working class, political allies in the embryonic Labour Party, and reacting under the pressure of an upsurge in trade union militancy.

They were modest measures, applying to only certain sections of the 'deserving' working class -  and generally they had some sort of contributory angle. But the Tories fought them tooth and nail, perceiving a threat to undermine western civilisation - or at least free market capitalism. And using their in-built majority in the House Of Lords they took the country to the brink of constitutional crisis.

This history matters - don't imagine for a moment that these people don't have long memories: 

When I heard the news  that Thatcher had been taken in to  hospital my first thought was that she can die happy now knowing that the work she began 25 years ago  - declaring war on 'society' - is now well on it's way to being done.

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