Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

The Olympics won’t save you Dave


I’m an Olympics widower. I don’t really like sport (unless it is very exciting like Judd Trump smacking balls into pockets at the UK Championships last year as if he was playing down his local pub) and most Olympic sports are frankly boring.

Do hysterical spectators and people screaming “come on” at the telly realise these athletes do nothing else other than train all day? They have never had a real job or a life for that matter. We’d have a lot more world-class athletes if we didn’t have to work for a living too. Unfortunately, most people have to go to work to eat and have a roof over their head to pay for the taxes dished out in grants to these demigods the masses cheer on.

That’s not to say I am disappointed we bagged the Olympics Games. It is a geopolitical event extraordinaire. We had one billion eyes watching our Opening Ceremony on Friday evening and we were able to remind the rest of the world how much we have done for them: industrial revolution, saved their countries twice (thrice if you count the Cold War), export the best music in the world etc etc. And then of course the sheer brilliance of our engineering and technical skills shone through in the Opening Ceremony production itself.

But one thing the Olympics won’t do is save Dave and George’s skin. London, away from the Olympic venues, resembles a ghost town. Most workers have packed up for 17 days with reports hotels in the capital are having to slash room costs as it seems tourists have deserted the city along with the businessmen and women. And this isn’t even taking into account the skiving that is probably going on amongst the athlete-worshipping working population.

At this rate, we could be heading for a fourth quarter of negative growth within the current double-dip recession. This is terrible and is being caused by a) having a Coalition Government and b) poor and weak leadership: the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

There are many things George Osborne could do to kick-start the economy and reduce the debt, such as:

1. Bring the top rate of tax back to 40p: The Chancellor idiotically only moved it back to 45p at the budget in March thereby missing the chance to take one political hit – he blamed the Yellow Peril (yawn!)); this tax change would demonstrate the UK is open for business and encourage entrepreneurs to open new businesses and create more employment.
2. Cut public spending. We were promised by both Labour and Conservatives at the General Election in 2010 a bonfire of cuts, a holocaust of cuts, but instead the Government has barely scratched the surface with borrowing in this financial year targeted to be £120bn – more than Gordon Brown was borrowing in 2009/10. Bear in mind this is a worst case scenario (hence “targeted”) and actual borrowing is likely to be higher! In particular, local government spending should be cut further and why is NHS spending ring-fenced when it spends £17 on a pizza base (not even with topping)!
3. Use the savings made from the public sector to lower taxes for ordinary workers. Top of the list should be VAT – back down to 17.5% to kick-start the crippled retail sector. 
4. Reform planning laws to reverse rules which favour nimbys and instead make it easier for new housing to be built and dare I say a new airport to be built in the South East. This would help the other sector which is dying on its feet: Construction.

There’s four ideas. But it would require strong political leadership of the Thatcherite variety and when I look at the smarmy faces of old-moneyed David Cameron and George Osborne I really don’t think they would know how to act in Thatcherite manner if they tried.

The genius of Margaret Thatcher is she knew what it was like to strive and so knew what was needed to help the strivers in Britain and in turn wind the economy back up after the disastrous years of Labour in the 1970s. Dave and George can’t even imagine what it would be like. The sooner they are replaced the better (thankfully, if one goes, the other will follow!).

Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

2 thoughts on “The Olympics won’t save you Dave

  1. Gavin, maybe if you spent a little less time hating on the Prime Minister, you'd realise that, far from being people who have never had "a real job" (is IT a real job?) our athletes are really varied.Today, for instance, we won a gold medal in the Women's Double Sculls. Helen Glover, a former PE teacher who only took up rowing four years ago, accompanied Captain Heather Stanning from the British Army to Olympic Gold, having only rowed together for two years. Captain Stanning may well be out in Afghanistan by the end of September.The Men's Eight boat includes a civil servant from HM Treasury, a recent law graduate from University College London, and two other students amongst a crew of eight.So quite apart from the insult you send (by accident I am sure) towards our athletes who you dismiss as never having a real job or a real life (one of the swimmers has lost her Mum to cancer in the last year, life doesn't get any more real than that), you also come up with four proposals to improve the economy.Cutting the top rate of tax back to the level it was in 2007 would cost money. Where are you proposing to find that money? From public sector cuts? But the Government are already failing to find their proposed cuts – spending is rising not falling – so where will these cuts come from? Yes the NHS shouldn't be ring fenced, but because of demographic change – our ageing population – the NHS is going to get more expensive not less, no matter how much you manage to reduce those ridiculous examples of £17 pizzas or £50 lightbulbs.A 2.5% cut in VAT would boost retail spending a little but not by as much as it would cost – the necessary cuts to public spending to fund it would choke off any desire by the public to spend money.I'd agree with your fourth point, but that's supposed to be the point of a lot of the legislation Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles are guiding through Parliament, including the Localism Act 2011.Mrs Thatcher did an awful lot of damage to British society with her pure monetarism, which was like a shock to the economy. The 3.5million unemployed from the two huge and devastating recessions from her Premiership really damage her legacy as the woman who saved Britain.Mrs Thatcher would probably be somewhere to the left of the current Conservative Party if you analyse the policies of her Governments. I have faith that, like a supertanker, the economy is very slowly turning around. The GDP figures are awful but compared to the 7% retraction under Gordon Brown they aren't that bad. The construction figures are depressed but everywhere I look I see scaffolding and building – and I wonder how much of the reduction in output for construction is down to the finishing of the largest construction project in Europe.Mrs Thatcher was the greatest peace time Prime Minister we've ever had. But she was of her time. Her solutions to the economic crisis we faced in 1979 would not work now. Dave and George's solutions are. Maybe you should be a little more critical of the articles you read in the right wing press and look at the figures for yourself. If it looks like a pig, feels like a pig, smells like a pig, why do the press insist on calling it a horse…

  2. Thanks for your comment "Paul". It gave me a right chuckle at the beginning of my day.

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