The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Monday, 26 December 2011

On The First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me... A Useless Labour Party

 Joe White walked into the kitchen on Christmas Eve and found his mother sitting at the kitchen table with her head in her hands.

"What's the matter, Mum?" the teenager frowned and sat down next to her.

"This," she said, passing a couple of sheets of paper to him.  It was a credit card bill.  All eight pages of it.  And the total balance was £34,000.  He whistled.

"Blimey, they've messed that up haven't they? Are you going to ring them to find out what's gone wrong?"

"No Joe," Mrs White said slowly.  "It's not incorrect.  That is what we owe.  The interest alone this year is £1,600."

"But you only earn £26,000 don't you?"

"Yes Joe.  We have been somewhat living beyond our means, and it's time to sort it out".

The two of them sat for a while.  Joe taking it in.  His mother thinking.  Then she pulled a sheet of paper towards her and started to write.

"OK Joe.  You are a part of this family too.  Let's have some ideas.  We need to cut back our spending drastically if we are going to pay this off".

"I guess if we tighten our belts for a bit.  Stop eating out quite so much.  Use the money off coupons at the supermarket.  That should do it shouldn't it?" he asked hopefully.

"In a word no.  You see the problem is not just paying the interest off.  It's that we have accumulated another £5,000 in debt this year.  That means our income for the year isn't enough to cover our expenditure by £5,000.  Just to get to the point where we are breaking even, before we even start paying off the annual interest, we need to stop accumulating debt.  That means saving £5,000 this year alone and every year from this point on.  Or, of course, earning an extra £5,000 and using it to break even, before we start paying off the debt."

"£5,000!  Does that mean that you've been earning £26,000, but we've been spending £31,000?"

"It does."

"So what can we cut?"

"Well, I've been looking through our bank statements.  We could stop the digital TV subscription, but that'll only save us £500 for the year.  It's a good start though.  The dance classes for Gemma, and the drumming classes for you will have to stop though I'm afraid"

"WHAT! You can't do that!"  Joe jumped up.  Suddenly it was affecting him and he wasn't happy.

"But Joe, you've had those lessons for years, despite us not being able to truly afford them.  We should never have started them.  Can't you be grateful that you've had the lessons you have and recognise the seriousness of our situation?  If we don't turn it around we'll lose the house."

Joe sat back down.  He was still fuming, but he could see the frustration and fear in his mother's eyes.

"OK Mum.  Whatever it takes.  Let's sort it out"

"Thank you, love" she said.  "It's going to be a difficult road, and it'll take us at least five years to stop accumulating new debt and to start to pay off the £34,000 we already owe.  But we have to work together.  I know your father and I haven't managed it well, and I apologise."

"It's alright" said Joe (he was a very intelligent, kind boy).

"Mum?" he said

"Yes dear?"

"I wonder how common this situation is?  Just think what it would be like if a whole country was in this position."

"Don't be silly Joe"  said Mum.  "A whole country couldn't make the same kind of mistakes we have.  They have governments to manage it all properly.  Now what do you want for tea?"

"Not sure.  What have we got?"

"Not a lot.  It's Christmas though.  Shall we go to that restaurant we like?"

"Yeah. Why not?"

The numbers in this little story are directly proportional to the debt the UK finds itself in.  The total income collected by the Government in 2010-11 was £697 billion,  the UK's average salary of £26,000 represents that income.  On that basis, the UK owes £909billion pounds and so, in Joe's family, they owe £34,000.  Scared yet?

By Yummymummyreally.

Does it help to start apportioning blame to this situation in which our country finds itself?

The Tories blame Labour, Labour blames the cuts, The Green Party blame the Banks/Tories, and blame Labour for not pointing this out earlier. The IMF blames the cuts for the continuing recession, the Daily Mail blames the weather. Now all we need is someone to blame Elvis.

A third of voters still blame Labour for the economic crisis.

This interesting article in the Economist at the beginning of this year, took Miliband to task for trying to deflect the blame onto the Tories and suggest that Labour need to stop looking to the past failures:

This is badly, badly wrong. One of the iron rules of politics is that no opposition ever persuades the public to change their minds about anything. Only governments, or external events, can do that. Oppositions must recognise where the centre-ground is, occupy it to get elected, and then move it in their direction when they are in power.

Does it matter who caused the recession? It is a peculiar human trait to apportion blame, but all the mud-slinging distracts from the more important issues - how to move forward.

This is one of the things that we at Frothers are hoping to highlight.

We need a strong opposition. We need someone to stand up and say, "Right. This just isn't working. We need a new plan".

Traditionally the "opposition" to a Conservative-lead government would be the Labour Party, but they are too self-involved at the moment to get cracking.

It is being left to activists to highlight the concerns that many have about the cuts. Where are the Labour leaders? Why has no one started asking tough questions? And offering detailed alternative plans?

We refer back to our first posts on this blog where we asked about SureStart, DLA, cuts to Credit Tax, to the NHS, to Universal Child Benefit.

Come ON, Labour Party. Get fired up about this. These are the kind of issues that are perfect for a nice ranty press conference.

Stop burrowing your heads in the sand. So things were not great when you handed over to the ConDem goverment. GET OVER IT. Move on.

We don't want the Labour Party to say, "This is bad", we want them to say, "This is bad...  this is why...  this is how it will affect YOU...  this is what we would do instead..."

There is only so much the activists and bloggers can do. Not everyone reads blogs. And the ConDems are winning the press war at the moment, as can be seen by the high approval ratings of both the government and the Prime Minister.

The news of how the cuts will affect everyone in this country needs to get out there, and the Labour Party are the ones to do this.

Give us an opposition party to get behind and support.

We are ready.


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  1. Superb post, highlighting both the cruelty of rebalancing the economy by charging everyone the same and possible alternatives.

    As you say: protesters can't do the job of an effective Opposition, only raise awareness. Labour needs to stop bleating and start roaring.

    Great title!!

  2. It was quite a scary realisation that the UK owes more than it 'earns'(for want of a better word) in a year.

    Scaling the UK's financial position down to see what that would look like if it was a household's financial position really brings it home how bad it is and how many cuts will be necessary.

    If a friend told me they owed £31,000 on credit card's, but only earnt an average salary I'd be mortified and would be helping them manage on the bare minimum.

    Unfortunately that's the position the UK finds itself in.

    Choosing where and how to make those cuts will be difficult.

  3. The London mayor campaign for May 3rd looks certain to be a negative campaign by the Labour party. They are planning a major new year push to Tory-ise the Boris Johnson brand. Well, we KNOW he's a TORY! We want to know what you will do instead!!

    Apparently they start on January 3rd, so watch this space, let's see how the Opposition do in London.

  4. To continue the analogy if I were in dire financial straits I'd be giving up luxuries before essentials like food, healthcare, education. That's where this government has their priorities the wrong way wrong.

  5. A more accurate analogy would be: The neighbours gambled away all their money, so we lent them £31,000. I know we only earn £26,000 in a year, and they have just bought themselves a new car, but we must cut back on our spending. We dont have luxuries to cut back on, so Im sorry Joe, you are going to have to give up school and try to get a job. Dinner will be bread and cabbage soup from now on.
    No we cant ask Mr and Mrs Banks next door to pay us back our money, they need their new car so they can impress their friends.

  6. Hah, good point Anonymous! Mr & Mrs Banks with a new car, indeed.


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