By Michael Addai
It is time for the Tories in the UK to go! The Conservative party has overstayed its welcome in governing. It has outlived its usefulness in this present economic downturn as its economic policies have proven not to be part of the solutions but part of the problems. Replacing ‘Kwasinomics’ with ‘Huntnomics’ is still ‘Trussonomics’. This is not going to change anything but rather exacerbate the already precarious economic problems. They are all the same — “adekroment”.
The recent sacking of the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, by the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has sharply exposed her own vulnerability as a leader. For her to get rid of someone who was simply implementing her own leadership campaign promises of tax cuts only to turn around and double-down on the same policies clearly shows that she is bereft of ideas/policies suitable to solve the present economic problems. The markets displeasure with her economic policies at this moment in time speaks for itself.
In fact. It was this obsession with these same trickle-down policies cum spending cuts dressed as efficiency savings by the Tories that underpinned the implementation of the most severe austerity measures that have plagued the UK economy and have engendered the low economic growth since David Cameron’s coalition government took power in 2010 after that year’s general election delivered a hung parliament. In the end, the budget deficits did not reduce much under the Tory led coalition government, but the super-rich got their tax cuts at the cost of severe expenditure cuts in vital areas. That unholy alliance between the Liberal Democrats (LibDems) and the Conservative Party in 2010 did more harm than good to the UK economy when it toppled Gordon Brown’s Labour government that was leading the charge with sound compassionate fiscal and monetary policies in the global effort to solve the worst global economic and banking crisis brought on by the financial crash in the US in 2008. Perhaps had there been a holy alliance in 2010 between the LibDems and the Labour Party led by the longest serving Chancellor of Exchequer in UK history, Gordon Brown, to continue with this global charge the story would have been favourably different for the UK economy.
It is safe to say that the Tory party has lost all the economic credibility and fiscal responsibility credentials that the party is erroneously associated with. This conservative government’s economic policies have proven beyond doubt that trickle-down economics cannot stand the test of time and thus not sustainable in all circumstances. On the other hand, it can be argued that the economic policy of taxing and spending responsibly and judiciously is more sustainable and applicable in any circumstances, respectively in times of economic growth or in times of economic crisis.
Ever since the Tories were given the lifeline by the LibDems to form the so-called coalition government in 2010, they have forced the country to lurch from one dangerous experiment to another including risky adventures that sometimes threaten the unity of UK, and the LibDems have since paid the electoral price for that lifeline.
First it was the severe austerity measures that were forced on the UK when the entire world was recovering from the worst economic downturn caused by the banking crisis. Then the risky decision to have the Scottish independence referendum that nearly caused the collapse of the UK as we know it — United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was then followed by the mother of all blunders and risky adventurism, the decision to foist the Tories own internal EU problem on the whole of the UK by holding the Brexit referendum that eventually forced the UK to exit the largest and prosperous economic trading block, the EU. All these dangerous adventurisms happened under the then Prime Minister, David Cameron who abruptly bolted out of office having plunged the country into severe political and economic crisis even though he had just won the conservatives a majority in parliament.
Then came the caretaker government of Teresa May which did not do much to reverse this economic downturn and general political malaise. Her mantra of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and her government’s economic policies did not endear her to the financial markets nor much of the British public which further worsened the economic situation. After a disappointing snap general election results, her government was short-lived as it was consumed by political infighting and economic indecision because of the continuous fallouts from the unexpected Brexit referendum result.
Undeterred by the public anger regarding the outcome of the Brexit vote, the Tories went ahead to install the chief architect of Brexit, Boris Johnson, as Prime Minister, ignoring this Brexiteer’s false claims of Brexit’s benefits. Though his declaration of ‘do and die’ on Brexit secured him the majority in parliament in a snap general election where the public had no credible alternative to him plus the public’s anxiety of political instability, his short tenure in office and his government did much to expose the political and economic incompetence of the Tories. His tenure also deepened the perception of the Tories’ laissez-faire attitude towards public sector investment to help the average Joe and Joanna. Despite the warnings and the obvious consequences of Brexit, his government followed it through to take UK out from the EU — its largest trading partner and market — without any credible alternatives. Besides this mishap, the COVID-19 pandemic that devastated world economies was not taken seriously initially until it was too late and caused economic and social havoc. Though Boris Johnson’s government did well afterwards to invest in keeping people employed during the economic shut down and led the world in ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations, all throughout the government flouted its own COVID-19 safety policies to the chagrin of many people whiles the government’s economic policies were still the same trickle-down as before. The perception of indiscipline and economic incompetence on the part of Boris Johnson’s conservative government eventually forced it to resign unceremoniously in utter disappointment.
Again, without any input from the British public the Tories installed Liz Truss as prime minister hoping to change course, but her government happens to be no different from the other conservative governments before her. The government’s first step to stimulate the economy was to go down the same path of unworkable trickle-down policies of giving unfunded huge tax cuts to the mega rich at the expense of public expenditure and investment, causing a self-inflicted economic crisis within a noticeably brief period in government. The stock markets turmoil plus the precipitous fall of the British pound sterling — an unsurprising reaction to her cavalier ideologically driven economic policies at the time of global inflationary pressures, economic downturn, and uncertainty, — has forced her to do a U-turn on these massive tax cuts to the rich. Unfortunately, all this mea culpa from her came at the expense of her first Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, whom she tasked to implement her own campaign promises and economic policies but had to be sacrificed conveniently to save her own skin.
In the span of 12 years of Tory rule, the British economy has been turbid and marred with political instability and uncertainty. The Conservative party’s insistence of borrowing massive amounts of money to fund tax cuts to the rich and then paying this massive debt by cutting public spending, all in the hope that the rich will pass on the richness to the people at the bottom has not yielded any significant growth at all to the British economy and does not make any economic sense. The indebtedness caused by trickle-down policies but paid for by spending cuts in vital sectors harm the vulnerable in society — the tax give away should rather be directed to those who need them the most. Further, this period (2010–2022) has also witnessed a revolving door of four conservative prime ministers, unprecedented in modern era whereas a similar period of Labour government (1997–2010) witnessed a significant growth and expansion in the UK economy but with only two prime ministers, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown.
In a nutshell, the 12 years of Tory government has been characterized by slow economic growth, political instability, and unnecessary risky economic and political adventurism as a result of the party’s unbridled economic and political policies and thus it is about time they are booted out of office. It is, indeed, time for change.
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