We will all be worse off buying the promises of snake-oil
By TruePublica Editor: I’ve been around for sixty years. I entered the workforce in 1979. Thatcher had just been elected. The global oil crisis had also just reached its peak and a year later in 1980, a massive deflationary cycle triggered a huge recession. Thatcher’s policies caused unemployment to rocket and four years later had reached an all-time peak of 11.9 per cent, something not seen in Britain since 1939 – the year the war started. Company earnings crashed by an average of 35 per cent within three years.
It took thirteen quarters for GDP to recover to its pre-recession peak only to end up where it was at the end of 1979. Inflation was in double-digit territory.
By the time I was 28, I had worked hard enough to be married, have a family, own my own home and a had started a new business. The day, my business partner and I opened our doors, after a year of planning and even more hard work – Nigel Lawson, the Tory Chancellor changed taxation rules on home-ownership and crashed the housing market. Our cherished little property business didn’t stand much of a chance. At the time, ex-colleagues were reporting that 65 per cent of property transactions had collapsed within two weeks – before we had a chance of building any sales at all.
Interest rates shot up from 8 per cent to around 15 per cent. My own mortgage went from 9 per cent to 17 per cent in the space of 18 months. Property repossessions went exponential. In 1991, it was officially recorded that nearly 80,000 properties had been repossessed that year alone, the highest on record. But even this huge number was not true. The government were so worried about what had happened, they allowed banks and building societies to secretly buy their own repossessions and rent them out (which were not officially recorded) – and the government would guarantee a 5 per cent return irrespective of the losses – as long as the property fund lasted a minimum of five years. I ended up running one of these funds a few years later. In one district alone, it had 11,000 units piled into it. And I ran five of them.
I lost my business after a five-year struggle. In the end, I lost everything, my business, my home, car, pension (yes, they could take your pension in those days) – the lot. My wife left my imploding life and the two children with it.
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At that moment – for me, the world went dark. I was bankrupt and in those days couldn’t get credit of any type. With two children in tow in those days, my ability to bounce back was severely hampered. I was forced back to my parents home. The future looked terribly bleak.
It is my nature to fight back though – and so I did and we all survived these experiences. Today, I could not be more grateful or happy. But I will never forgive that rancid Tory who bankrupted me and tens of thousands of others simply because he couldn’t stand ordinary people to do well. It took Lawson twenty years to admit his catastrophic failures. More recently he was promoting Brexit from his French estate. I was pleased to hear Lawson was refused residency in France – whether that is true or not is immaterial to me, I want it to be true.
Blair arrived just as the world economy was in high gear and growing with globalisation. Cool Brittania celebrated Britain’s lead in pop culture that then led to the Olympics and new millennium. 1997 to 2010 was an excellent period for me in so many ways. The country seemed to be optimistic.
Then the Tories got in again. My wife, an NHS consultant doctor who had worked up a new diabetes department had it all taken away from her in one of their ‘top-down’ privatisation drives – so we left Britain for a country that wanted her expertise more. I started a small business again and this time I centred it around public relations. Much of that work has come from clients wishing to expose this current government for what it is. It’s been a busy time.
This last decade has been a cultural eye-opener in one of the world’s richest countries per capita. However, for all sorts of reasons, it is time to come home.
This country is now the unhappiest I’ve personally ever known it. For everything that has happened, it’s won nothing as it battles with its own past. Worse, it seems to know it but somehow can’t admit it.
Brexit became a culture war in itself, an ideology, like religion. And so, Britain rages in its own anger. It lies some more and it waves its flag. It demands loyalty, it craves respect and gets neither. The next stage of this self-imposed disaster is to turn in on itself. The government will deny a second independence referendum for Scotland. And then the United Kingdom will fight itself over that as well. Before long, protests will morph into acts of violence, just as they did in The Troubles in Northern Ireland (that has already flared up again) and that will burn away at civil society for another decade or so – that is, until the dispute is settled.
In social and family circles, the only way to survive all this – is to simply not speak a word of it.
We know the generations now despise each other for it. Generation Z despises their grandparents for stripping them of free European movement – of taking away cultural education exchanges, for not having done anything about the climate crisis, the housing crisis and forcing university charges on them. It fights back by reminding them. Recent research shows that 65 per cent of over 65s today say they intend to spend all their savings and pass nothing back down – such is their feeling for the generation behind them.
Boris Johnson is a symbol of this awful toxic division. His expertise is not ruffling his hair – but the deep-seated emotions of an entire country. What better than to use the fall of an empire, the victory of a World War and point the finger of blame at innocents to rally the troops.
To make matters worse, we should not forget that the Tory party of Thatcher and Major has been euthanised as a result. I personally might think this was a good thing given my personal experience – but I’m not so sure. In its place is a hybrid party. It is still using the old party name for branding purposes but with the purging of moderates and its membership now largely drawn to the policies of the hard-right it has attracted many from the fringes – Ukip, the Brexit Party and even the English Defence League.
Traditional Tories from the centre are horrified and that may be a factor in the local elections this week. The same can be said of those on the centre-left.
Many in the media are reporting that the result of the local elections will be pivotal – they won’t be.
I have a sense that as the pandemic continues to dominate life – Johnson will continue on his current political trajectory until the next election. And then it will be over, not just for him, but this hybrid party of extremists.
The Churchill/Eden/MacMillan years (14) were the longest-lasting post-war period of Tory power. By igniting the Suez Crisis, they dealt a crushing blow to Britain’s global power and influence. By the Time Johnson reaches the election, the Tories will have covered a similar time span – and it too will have dealt another desperate crushing blow to what remained of Britain’s once unparalleled influence.
Like it or not, Britain has made another error based purely on its historical relationship with empire. And so, it tore itself away from the largest trading and free-movement bloc in the world. For all of its faults, Britain recovered very well inside the EU – punching way above its weight.
No Brexit voter will know this – but Britain was due on its economic trajectory to match that of Germany in 2030/31. This calculation was based on the number of immigrants the UK had attracted, whereas Germany is the fastest ageing country in the bloc. France is politically falling apart under Macron – even military generals are stirring. Italy is submerged in debt and political turmoil. In 2015, America viewed the UK as the country to take the leading political and economic role in the EU. Ironically, we had another empire in our sights. British diplomats knew this, economists advising the government knew this, political strategists knew this. But we blew it on the promises of charlatans and their slogans – that have all been exposed as lies.
This happened because global corporations hate the EU. So do billionaires, the malign forces of China, Russia and their pernicious allies. Hundreds of millions in dark money dollars was quietly sprayed underneath the forces that brought us Brexit. The idea was to break down the EU trading bloc. In the meantime, corruption has infected every part of the current government.
And just for a moment, let’s kid ourselves that Brexit was an honest, straight forward question that the electorate answered – and that we as a country need to find a way to make it all a success. Is Boris Johnson the man to do that job? He’s a born liar. He’s abandoned every relationship he has ever had both in his private life and at work. He’s been fired for his lack of morals. He’s a misogynist, a racist, an opportunist. He believes in nothing but himself. He instigates division amongst us all for personal gain. Boris Johnson is a very nasty, utterly ruthless individual who only ever fights the short fights he can win. He will not unite us, he will not make the right decisions based on our collective wellbeing. He will not pour concrete into the footings of our new future because there’s no glory for him to revel in if success comes in the years ahead. Instant gratification is what makes Johnson tick not the collective well-being and economic success of the United Kingdom.
If you don’t believe any of that – you have fallen for the snake-oil salesman’s promises.
One truth about the pandemic (leaving aside the debate over death and economic decline) is that an opportunity for a new Britain now lies in our grasp because every country has been badly affected and it puts everyone in the same boat. Biden has gone for investment in social infrastructure. Johnson is wasting taxpayers cash on lies and promises. He doesn’t care that ‘levelling-up’ the north is a success or not – only that votes come his way.
Don’t forget what Johnson failed at when he was Mayor of London. To Londoner’s, he lied about Heathrow, about tax cuts, homelessness, police numbers, public transport fares, congestion charges, the fire service, black cab services (source) – and then there’s an equally long list of billions wasted on failed ego-projects.
We have a snake-oil salesman in office. It will inevitably end badly – as everything ever has done with both Boris Johnson and snake oil. But having bought his life-giving elixir – we will all be the worse off for it … eventually.