|Volume 50 Number 9, March 14, 2020||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Everyone knows that a Boris Johnson government is on the side of the wealthy. However, Johnson also claimed to be on the side of the people. Is this supposed to mean that now Parliament is on the people's side? That is how Johnson and his government would like to present themselves. Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the end of his Budget speech even had the nerve to say, "This is a Budget that delivers on our promises - a people's Budget from a people's Government." The Budget is being presented by the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak as one with "no apology" for borrowing more money to invest into the UK as "the right economic thing to do".
BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg also took up the theme of the Chancellor's borrowing more money allegedly to invest in Britain, saying: "This is a new government with a new chancellor much hungrier for spending, much hungrier for borrowing and much less bothered about the size of the national debt - and we are talking about very, very big numbers here." Some trade union leaders also concurred that the Budget showed that "the government's been listening - to a point".
But what is the actual aim of this Budget of Boris Johnson's new government, who is it listening to and indeed whose interests does it serve?
One question that has to be asked is why an allegedly "people's Budget" is presented in the British parliamentary tradition of being hatched in secret, put in a red box and sprung on Parliament and the people without debate and consultation. In other words, the people and even Parliament have no say in the content of the Budget and there is no discussion other than the post-parliamentary adversarial debate on what has already been decided. Of course, like all Chancellors before him, Rishi Sunak claimed that this was in the governing party's manifesto and that he was saying that he would be "sticking to the fiscal rules" set out in his the Tory's election manifesto.
On the question of who decides these vital matters for the the economy of the regions and nations of Britain, it is the old arrangements. Namely, that the person of state rules over the people. This is a democracy which is divided between those who govern and those who are governed. The role of the citizen is merely to put an "X" on a ballot during an election to indicate that they authorise someone else, over whom they exercise no control, to speak in their name. In other words, the inner circles of government and state decide and the people are excluded from even the discussion, let alone the decision-making.
Far from activating the people to take control of the situation, especially as this Budget is connected with the coronavirus outbreak, everything is done to distract attention from the real problems the people face and providing them with viable solutions. The future is made to look very bleak. The only alternative to a Budget of "austerity" presented by the Coalition and previous Conservative governments is a Budget of "borrowing" and "spending", both which get presented as a bleak prospect for the future at best.
This is what happens when the political imagination is not directed at what is taking place in the present. It is what happens when the reality of an economy where the interests of the wealthy benefit both from austerity and from borrowing by governments. In these times, the economic and all-sided crisis is gathering pace through the predatory global ambitions of the wealthy. This includes their wars and warmongering, the wrecking of economies, of nations and of the environment. In these circumstances, finding guaranteed investments in Treasury loans paid for by the people in taxes, even at low interest rates, becomes a safe haven for the wealthy financial oligarchy in guaranteeing returns on investments and extracting produced value from the economy.
Such a Budget cannot be described as one to "calm the nation", or as one where the "government is listening". Neither can it be said that previous Conservative governments were "bothered about the national debt" and that Boris Johnson's government is not. The fact is the wealthy are being served by a Budget of both "austerity" and of "borrowing" and "spending".
Yes, the Budget pays lip service to some of the concerns of the people, of "getting things done", of ending austerity. But the context of this Budget is to serve the interests of the wealthy, where the people yet again have no power to speak in their name. It is to convince the doubters that they should have faith in handing over this power to their so-called "representatives".
What it does show is that when it comes down to it, where there is a will there is a way. Taboos of "balancing to books" have been jettisoned. Working people demand that investment be stepped up on social programmes, on putting human beings at the centre, not the financial oligarchy, that pay-the-rich schemes be ended. This is not the theme or aim of Rishi Sunak's Budget. The Budget is geared to serving the interests of the wealthy. Working people must indeed be empowered to speak in their own name and ensure that the social wealth produced serves the people, as benefits a modern society.