Essays

UK Perspective: The Debt That Is Crushing Us All

Debate-2by Max Musson

AS WE ALL KNOW, the forthcoming General Election will be largely irrelevant to the future well being of the British people — we will after all simply be swapping ‘Tweedle-dum’ for ‘Tweedle-dee’ in an election that will almost certainly end in a Conservative led coalition or a Labour led coalition and in a continuation of fundamentally the same policies that have been so damaging to our nation over recent decades. Against this background the Leaders’ Debate which was broadcast by ITV yesterday evening was a ‘circus act’ in which the leaders of establishment approved political parties engaged in a two-hour slanging match that achieved very little except provide ‘entertainment’ of sorts and some competition for BBC’s regular Thursday evening political flagship, Question Time. (ILLUSTRATION: Nationally televised debate between U.K.’s top political candidates.)

During the debate we saw David Cameron of the Conservatives debate a series of pre-arranged questions on fiscal policy, the National Health Service, immigration and opportunities for young people, with; Ed Miliband of Labour; Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats; Nigel Farage of UKIP; Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party; Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru and Natalie Bennett of the Green Party. The debate was conducted in such a way that none of the politicians was afforded the time necessary to properly explain their party’s policies in these areas and so it became a contest of sound bites and debate took place on only a very shallow level.

Interestingly, while Cameron and Clegg gave predictably so-so performances defending their record in office over the last five years, Miliband was simply awful – quite rightly shamed on occasions by the exposure of his failings as part of the last Labour government – but also hampered by his quite obviously choreographed and insincere body language, staring at the camera at every opportunity like a low-budget circus hypnotist. Nigel Farage performed adequately, although was disappointingly lack-lustre, while the three women leaders came over best, all three appearing sincere, but with the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon providing the stand-out performance of the night, projecting an image that was caring, feisty and confident. The SNP is not a racial nationalist party, being more traditional socialist than nationalist, and it is a pity that Nicola Sturgeon cannot broaden her mind to encompass the racial dimension of our current political situation.

The debate was however generally uninformative and will have done little to alert the public to the most important issues confronting our nation at this time. While Nigel Farage was not at his best in terms of performance – allowing the immigration debate to be conducted at a very superficial level in which he was on occasions wrong-footed by the female leaders particularly – he did broach the subject of the national debt, which was, as is usually the case, the ‘elephant in the room’.

While the other leaders argued the pros and cons of ‘austerity’ verses ‘public spending’, Farage pointed out that the national debt had doubled over the last five years under the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition to such an extent that debt repayments are now greater than our annual expenditure on defence. Farage failed however to press home the implications of this and the impact of indebtedness upon our ability to provide the kind of services and life opportunities the public desire, and it was not until towards the end of proceedings that Nick Clegg chimed in with the statistic that next year we will as a nation pay £46 billion in interest alone on our national debt, an astounding figure.

At every mention of our mounting national debt, Cameron repeated the mantra that the coalition government had ‘halved the deficit’ and would ‘clear the rest of it’ during the next parliament, conflating in the public mind the ‘deficit’ with the ‘debt’ in order to give an impression of fiscal competence. No-one pointed out that the deficit is only the amount by which the debt is increasing and that the elimination of the deficit would still leave our colossal national debt unpaid and us with colossal annual debt repayments.

Furthermore, no-one took the final step towards unveiling the factor that is really crippling our economic performance: the fact that government spending is financed using money that is ‘borrowed’ into existence through a banking system that has been enabled to conjure that ‘money’ out of thin air. Despite the usual references to ‘greedy bankers’, no-one thought to suggest that a better way of funding government expenditure would be for the government to print any money that might otherwise need to be borrowed and spend it into our economy, debt free!

Following such a reform of our banking system and an abolition of the fractional reserve system, our governments would be able to afford the much needed public investment that so many of the leaders spoke about and upon which their Keynesian policies depend, without the need to raise taxes and without incurring further public debt. However no-one thought to suggest such a radical step. That would be to undermine the financial power of those who sponsor our establishment political parties, and we couldn’t have that!

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Source: Western Spring

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