So at the time of writing the UK is still reeling from the first couple of weeks of having Liz Truss as our Prime Minister. To be fair to Ms Truss she didn’t start from a winning position (ironically). The Tories did what the Tories have always done and turned on their “chosen one”, but only after years of lies, gaslighting and sheer incompetency, after all, what are all those things when pitted against the word that every Tory yearns to hear. . . popularity. However, when one lie became one too many for old Boris (and by that, I mean that even his own side couldn’t ignore the facts at last), off he popped midst a cost of living crisis that he decided should be his parting gift to the next incumbent of the No 10 office. Strange isn’t it – in the US the tradition is that the outgoing President leaves the incoming President a letter wishing them well. The Tory party, who appears to have had the monopoly on Whitehall offices for the past 12 years have the tradition of leaving their next person through the door a bigger pile of sh*t than they had received. Cameron gifted May Brexit, May gifted Boris . . .well. . . Brexit actually, and now Boris has left the Brexit aftermath to Truss. Oh. . . he also gifted her a general public who no longer has any trust in the government, but that’s OK because seemingly the 172,437 Tory party members don’t care, just as long as their leader is popular or didn’t stab the popular leader in the back. I’ve just realised – the Tories are like Galinda aren’t they? They appear to be the good guys, our country comes first and all that, but when the chips are down they fly up their own backsides in a watertight glass bubble, ready to pop out again when we’re desperate.
Anyway back to old Liz (not to be confused with really old Liz who had the right idea and died after meeting Ms Truss. . . do you think that she knew?), now she said right back at the beginning of September that she was up for making unpopular decisions. . .so this is something to celebrate right, as this is the first time in years that I can remember the Prime Minister sticking to their word. Of course, nobody could have predicted quite how unpopular she was aiming for . .. oh hang on, we all could have predicted couldn’t we, as she’d kept talking about cutting tax, kept talking about “typical Conservative politics”. Once again she was speaking the truth – who else remembers the 80s and all the pain that the Tories inflicted on the working classes back then?
So here we are, a few days into Kwasi Kwarteng’s first little fiscal event and the pound has plummeted, the Bank of England has stepped in to literally save the UK economy, and as of today lovely Liz is doubling down on what she now calls her “Growth Plan”. Once again I would argue that this is a great name – after all, we’re already down a deep, dark pit of despair so the only way is up. . . isn’t it?
The theory behind all of this is a thing called the ‘trickle down economy’ a term first coined by the American humorist and performer, Will Rogers. MT enthusiasts will know the name from the Cy Coleman musical – The Will Rogers Follies. What a lovely circular conversation as we double back on the word folly! The theory is that if we make the rich a bit richer they’ll go out and spend a bit more, if they go out and spend all the other cogs of the UK economy will turn a little easier, loosening up the purse strings which means that the poorer members of society who missed out on the notes being handed out, might be able to get a few coins. Whilst we’re waiting for the trickle though we have to really suffer first so that even some odd change feels like winning the lottery.
What makes this theory all the more obscene at the moment, is that the poor were already scrabbling around for scraps. In their 2021/22 report the Trussell Trust reported that they had given out 2.1 million food parcels, 832,000 of them to children. Due to the increase in energy costs, local governments are currently working out where to put heat banks this Winter. I mean it reads like a Dickensian novel doesn’t it – welcome to the UK 2022
The Tories hold onto the belief that most of the poor are down on their luck because they’re lazy – they don’t want to work. They live on handouts whilst the “rich” work hard for their cryptocurrency. It’s a potent script that we hear over and over. There’s no sense of historical perspective for example why some areas lost hope 40 years ago under Thatcher, and with no real investment that feeling of hopelessness was handed down through the generations like the upper classes’ bequeath stately homes.
Nor is there any sense of living in the real world, with real-world costs – so we have the myths of the working class parents refusing to go out to work because they’re lazy, they believe that the state will pay for them. Of course in reality with a minimum wage of £11.95/hr the most some people could earn doing 40 hours/week would be £1912/month (before NI and tax). Do a quick Google search of the cheapest house rent in London and you’re told £1587/month, throw in childcare because you’re out working and you’re looking at at least £600/month. You haven’t paid for anything other than the roof over your head and somebody to look after your child and you’re already £275/month down. Now take out the NI and tax, find the money for gas and electric, for travel to get to work, for those little luxuries like food. . . and you begin to see the issue. The sums don’t add up. Going to work can create more debt if you’re not lucky enough to have the bank of mum and dad to support you.
So for sure there will be benefit cheats and scroungers, just like the rich have a percentage of people that earn millions but pop it into off-shore accounts in order to avoid paying tax, but they are the exception to the rule not the absolute. It’s a much clearer narrative to live in the American Dream world though isn’t it of work hard = rich rewards, therefore if you’re poor you must be lazy.
So when does the money trickle down? All those millionaires who just made an additional £50k just by virtue of money begets money, when do they start to throw out the loose change, and while we wait what happens to everybody else, because to keep the water analogy going it strikes me that we have an irony here, as people are drowning in debt as they wait for the trickle to hit.