The myopia of fiscal austerity

When I was studying in the UK during the dark Thatcher years there was a rat plague in Manchester. The reason was traced to the public spending cuts that had led to the reduction in rat catchers/baiters who had worked on the canals that go through Manchester. Later that year (December 1982), there were widespread collapses in the Manchester underground sewers which caused effluent in the streets, traffic chaos and long-term street closures. Major inner city roads were closed for a good 6 months while repairs were rendered. The reason – cut backs in maintenance budgets. The repairs ended up costing much more than the on-going maintenance bills. That experience brought home to me the myopia of austerity. While the austerity causes massive short-term damage, it is clear that it also generates a need for higher public outlays in the future as a response to repairing or attending to the short-run costs. The latest focus in Britain is on rising waiting lists in hospitals and increasing violence in prisons. All these examples of austerity compound and reverberate throughout society in countless little ways that accumulate to one huge mess. The Thatcher years were highly destructive for the well being of the British people contrary to the myths that the conservatives pump out. The current period will be of a similar ilk. And spare a thought for the long-term damage in places like Greece! It is beyond belief.

The following photo (from Chapter 3, Sewers: Repair and Renovation: Repair and Renovation, edited by Geoffrey F Read, Ian Vickridge, Butterworth-Heinemann, published 1996) shows Market Street, Manchester just after the collapse began.

Manchester_Market_St_Sewer_Collapse

The problem wasn’t confined to Manchester. Margaret Thatcher’s destructive reign undermined public infrastructure throughout Britain.

This graphic comes from the British A-A’s Drive Magazine, July 1983 and reports on the widespread breakdown of the drainage and sewerage systems in Britain as a result of lack of upkeep and repair.

AA_Summary_UK_Sewer_Collapse

Sometimes the damage that austerity causes does spill out into the streets in the form of acrid human waste as public infrastructure collapses.

Often, though, it is a slow grinding process of degradation that is largely unseen until the dysfunction becomes palpable.

I was reminded of those awful days living in Manchester when I read the UK Guardian article (June 7, 2015) – Austerity isn’t ‘good housekeeping’: it’s dogmatic, risky and unjust and the article (June 10, 2015) – Growth, what growth? Thatcherism fails to produce the goods.

The Conservatives (who promote austerity that the so-called ‘progressives’ in Labour-type parties then just ape, given that it is not in their DNA to conceive it) like to wax lyrical about the Thatcher years as if it saved Britain from the bad old days of labour.

They claim that Thatcherism revitalised the British economy through privatisation, welfare cuts and deregulation (the so-called ‘light-touch’ approach).

The claims were always false but have gained a life of their own – a ‘sort of say it often enough and it will be true’ type status.

One of the UK Guardian artices (June 10, 2015) reviews a new study – The Macroeconomic Impact of Liberal Economic Policies in the UK – by Cambridge researchers Ken Coutts and Graham Gudgin who provide a substantial evidence base which leads them to categorically reject the claimes that Thatcherism produced higher real GDP growth and more efficient industry (via higher productivity growth).

We read that “contrary to widespread belief, GDP and productivity have grown more slowly since 1979 compared with the previous three decades”.

The authors are quoted as saying:

… the most important economic indicators, including growth in GDP per head, were in fact no better in the post-1979 decades.

The major change was the “financial liberalisation … the most important economic indicators, including growth in GDP per head, were in fact no better in the post-1979 decades” but “led to a huge, and eventually unsustainable, expansion of household borrowing. This temporarily accelerated the growth of consumer spending and hence GDP and of house prices, but in 2008 contributed to a banking crisis and the longest recession for over a century.”

The facts are:

1. Per capita GDP growth averaged 2.6 per cent per year between 1950 and 1980, but fell to 2.2 per cent per annum from 1980 to 2007. It declined by 0.2 per cent after 2007.

2. Productivity growth averaged 2.9 per cent per year between 1950 and 1980, but fell to 1.7 per cent per annum from 1980 to 2007. It declined by 0.2 per cent after 2007.

3. Unemployment and inequality have risen substantially since 1980.

4. Variability in real GDP growth was much higher from the 1980s, relative to the 1950s and 1960s.

Meanwhile, we learn more about what we are up against in forcing the debate to acknowledge the evidence base rather than run around in circles discussing myths and degrees of myths.

The UK Guardian article (June 9, 2015) – Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years – doesn’t tell us very much that we didn’t know but the scale of the information presented is confronting.

The article says that:

The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records.

The amount is close to half of the anonymous funding disbursed to rightwing groups, underlining the importance of the climate issue to US conservatives.

The anonymous cash flow came from two secretive organisations – the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – that have been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement.

Progressive ‘think tanks’ get nothing compared to this and rely on goodwill and overworked staff to put their messages out into the public.

They cannot afford the massive marketing and publishing apparatus that the conservative think tanks deploy to pump out the lies.

That is a serious issue that I have been struggling with for most of my career – trying to run a research centre and use our research output for advocacy – but always having to chase funds – in the tens of thousands rather than millions.

So the Thatcherism myth is likely to continue because there are massive funds backing its perpetuation.

The other UK Guardian article cited above talked about the way in which the Conservative British government via its Chancellor has been able to con the British people into believing that the:

… latest round of cuts in the Commons last week – a down payment on the £25bn he plans to make over the next three years … [represent] … a “culture of good housekeeping” in government. Austerity as common sense.

The fact that the Conservatives have been able to get away with overseeing the slowest recovery in British history is testament to how bad the Opposition is in Britain.

It will be a similar story in Australia when the next federal election comes up in 2016. We now have the Treasurer lecturing people about the housing crisis in Sydney – saying that if people want to buy property in what is a dramatically inflated housing market that they should “get a good job that pays good money”. He had previously claimed that “poor people don’t drive cars” so increasing costs of motoring was not inequitable.

The Opposition, as noted in the recent blog – Why no-one should vote for the Australian Labor Party – only want to compete on who will deliver the austerity the quickest (which translates into claims and counter-claims about who will deliver a fiscal surplus the earliest). It is a nightmare.

The UK Guardian article reflects on what is happening in Britain in this regard and what might happen given the outlandish austerity plans that the newly-elected Government has announced in its 2015 fiscal statement.

The Chancellor is due to speak tonight at the “annual Mansion House Speech” and it is rumoured he will outline a plan “for permanent budget surpluses” – that is, a fiscal position where “tax revenues should cover spending on both infrastructure and the day-to-day running of government” (Source).

He plans to call “the first meeting in more than 150 years of the committee of the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt”, which was a body set up “by William Pitt the Younger to help repair the damage to the public finances caused by the Napoleonic wars”.

This is not only a nightmare for the British people but an intensification of the madness that ruled when Thatcher was Prime Minister.

While the Conservatives abandoned a substantial part of their initial austerity push in 2012 when it was obvious they were going to drive the British economy into depression – they succeeded in pushing it back into recession – the cuts they did introduce have been damaging.

Many of the cuts are of the slow-burn type – hidden from the daily life of many Britains but highly damaging to some segments of the population.

Two areas where austerity has impacted badly are in “waiting times at hospital accident and emergency departments” and in “rising assaults in prisons as staff numbers are cut” (Source).

These are the rat-plague/sewerage collapse type of manifestations.

I had a look at the statistics to check the situation.

The National Health Service in England provides Weekly Data and Quarterly Aggregates of hospital waiting times. The following graph is taken from the – Quarterly time series 2004-05 onwards.

It shows the Percentage of Emergency Arrivals who get attended to (admission, transfer or discharge) within 4 hours beween the second-quarter 2004 to the first-quarter 2015.

It is clear that waiting times have increased with less people now being attended to in under 4 hours since the Tories were elected.

This sort of impact has flow-on effects in the same way that the sewerage collapse imposed costs on individuals and businesses for years after the initial problem became obvious.

People who are hanging around hospitals are not attending to other activities – work, play etc – all of which compound.

UK_Hospital_Waiting_Times_2004_March_2015

Last year, there were several reports covering the “rising wave of assaults, murders and suicides in Britain’s jails” (Source).

A BBC news report earlier this year (January 29, 2015) noted that:

Serious assaults in prisons in England and Wales reached their highest level for at least ten years …

There were 1,958 in the year to September 2014, including 431 on prison staff, statistics show.

There were also a record 170 sexual assaults in England and Wales’ prisons in 2013.

The problem is two-fold:

1. Recession and rising unemployment causes crime rates to rise with subsequent increases in the number of people imprisoned.

2. Fiscal cuts to the Justice Department leads to staff cuts in prisons and probation centres

The prison chaos in Britain goes back, in part, to the Thatcher days. The Prison Reform Trust – Prison Facts, May 2014 – note that:

1. “The UK has the most privatised prison system in Europe.”

2. “There has been a 25.9% reduction in the number of directly employed NOMS staff since March 2010” (NOMS is the National Offender Management Service).

3. “Since December 2010 the number of staff employed by probation trusts has fallen by 15%, there are now nearly 1000 fewer Probation Officers.”

4. “The ratio of prison officers to prisoners in 2000 was 1:2.9, by the end of September 2013 this had increased to 4.8 prisoners for each prison officer.”

On April 30, 2015, the British Ministry of Justice released the latest – Safety in custody quarterly update to December 2014 and annual.

The incidence of Assaults per 1,000 prisoners has risen from 169 in December 2010 to 190 in December 2014. Both male and female assault rates have risen.

Assaults on prison staff per 1,000 prisoners have risen from 34 to 43 over the same period.

The following graph shows the total prison assaults (raw numbers) from the first-quarter 2003 to the fourth-quarter 2014.

The rise in recent years is prominent.

UK_Total_Prison_Assaults_2003_Dec_2014

We could accumulate all sorts of ‘austerity indicators’ many of which would be of this type – not particulary noticed by the mainstream population but which have cumulative and compound effects on society in general.

For example, the rates of rescidivism among those incarcerated in British prisons has risen significantly since 2000. As at May 2014, “46% of adults are reconvicted within one year of release” (Source).

Upon release, the people that end up homeless or unemployed are highly likely to reoffend. What other option is there?

While out, they are beating up people, robbing houses and inveigling others into a life of crime. Compound effects.

Which always raises the question that the proponents of austerity never address: What are the longer-term public outlays required to address the damage that the so-called cost savings of the austerity initiatives provide.

Note that the true cost of a public policy program are to be measured in the real resources that are diverted or activated by the program.

The numbers that appear in ‘fiscal’ (aka ‘budget’) statements are not true costs.

But even within the logic of the neo-liberals, austerity is a myopic strategy because it often leads to higher future net outlays relative to the short-term reductions in outlays.

The cost of the Thatcher sewer collapses were enormous.

The cost of leaving a generation of unemployed youth in Greek without paths to education, training and work experience will resonate over their lifetimes, the lifetimes of their children and on.

These things are never fully appraised in public policy decision-making by the likes of the IMF, the World Bank, and governments.

That is one of the reasons Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) proponents advocate continuous full employment. It is a way to minimise the waste of real resources. But it goes well beyond that of course.

Austerity undermines human potential and opportunity. Full employment with evolving definitions of what constitutes productive activities allows humans to achieve what they can and then functional finance principles allow those who are left behind as a result of their own capacities to more fully participate in society.

Austerity white ants those aspirations.

Conclusion

The week the sewers collapsed in Manchester was a very stark lesson for me as a postgraduate student. It brought home – around my feet if you like – the myopia of austerity Thatcher-style.

As more information emerged, it became obvious that the outlays necessary to repair the damage would far exceed the outlays associated with on-going maintenance.

There are countless examples of this sort of myopia.

The current focus on the rising inefficiency in the British hospital system and the violence in British prisons is just two areas that austerity impacts in this destructive way.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2015 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    22 Responses to The myopia of fiscal austerity

    1. norm de plume says:

      Have they privatised the rat-prevention and sewer maintenance in Manchester yet? Isn’t that the pattern? Run budgets for essential public services down so that you have an inevitable crisis which serves as a salutary example for the privatisation rationale – allow ‘market forces’ to eliminate waste and duplication and cilvil service feather-bedding and end up with a streamlined, cost-effective service, without regular disasters. Isn’t it time we let the experts do it?!

      Except that in virtually every case, consumers/residents end up with higher prices and even more disasters, which as taxpayers they end up wearing. Auckland power being a case in point. Privatised in 92, jobs cut and maintenance bill slashed (streamlining!) and then the catastrophe of 98, then 06, then last year, with loads of less comprehensive failures dotting the interims. We have had two blackouts in the last few months here in my neck of Sydney… a harbinger?

      Austerity’s a twofer – a raid on the common wealth that happily doubles as a mechanism via which to win hearts and minds for the sale of public assets.

      Meanwhile, I wonder if the Lords’ champers budget is on the chopping board for the ‘latest round of cuts’:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/if-you-want-to-see-the-gap-between-the-house-of-lords-and-reality-for-yourself-then-just-look-at-their-champagne-budget-9910611.html

    2. Postkey says:

      Infrastructure investment spending of the government will increase both the marginal product of labour and capital
      [New Keynesianism and Aggregate Economic Activity by Assar Lindbeck – Economic Journal, 108, 1998 pp167-80]

    3. Hugh of the north says:

      Some austerity examples from Michigan, taken from an article – which will/have lead to much higher financial/social/emotional etc. costs.

      Numerous cities and school districts in the state are now run by single, state-appointed technocrats, as permitted under an emergency financial manager law pushed through by Rick Snyder, Michigan’s austerity-promoting governor-

      Flint stopped buying its supplies from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and started drawing water directly from the river, which meant a budgetary savings of $12 million a year. The downside: people started getting sick.
      Since then, tests have detected E. coli and fecal bacteria in the water, as well as high levels of trihalomethanes, a carcinogenic chemical cocktail known as THMs. For months, the city concealed the presence of THMs, which over years can lead to increased rates of cancer, kidney failure, and birth defects. Still, it was obvious to local residents that something was up. Some of them were breaking out in mysterious rashes or experiencing bouts of severe diarrhea, while others watched as their eyelashes and hair began to fall out

      In 2006, the toxicity levels in their neighborhood, known simply by its zip code as “48217,” were 45 times higher than the state average. And that was before Detroit gave $175 million in tax breaks to the billion-dollar Marathon Petroleum Corporation to help it expand its refinery complex to process a surge of high-sulfur tar sands from Alberta, Canada.

      in 2012, in preparation for the new charter school district, cryptically named the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System, the emergency manager laid off every single school employee.
      “We knew it was coming,” explained one of the city’s longtime elementary school teachers. She asked not to be identified, so I’ll call her Susan. “We received letters in the mail.”
      Then, around one a.m. the night before the new charter school district was slated to open, she received a voicemail asking if she could teach the following morning. She agreed, arriving at Martin Luther King Elementary School for what would be the worst year in her more than two-decade career.
      With her salary slashed to less than $30,000, she picked up a second job at a nearby after-school program. Her health faltered. Instructed by the new administration never to sit down during class, a back condition worsened until surgery was required. The stress began to affect her short-term memory. Finally, in the spring, Susan sought medical leave and never came back.
      She was part of a mass exodus. Advocates say that more than half the teachers were either fired, quit, or took medical leave before the 2012-2013 school year ended. Mosaica itself wasn’t far behind, breaking its contract at the end of the 2014 school year. The emergency manager said he understood the company’s financial assessment, comparing the school system to “a broke-down car.” That spring, Governor Snyder visited and called the district “a work in progress.”
      Across the state, the education trend has been toward privatization and increased control over local districts by the governor’s office, with results that are, to say the least, underwhelming. This spring, a report from The Education Trust, an independent national education nonprofit, warned that the state’s system had gone “from bad to worse.”
      “We’re now on track to perform lower than the nation’s lowest-performing states,” the report’s author, Amber Arellano, told the local news.

    4. James Schipper says:

      Dear Bill

      The UK is not a federal state, but don’t British municipal governments have their own revenue base and budgets.? If so, then austerity at the central level doesn’t necessarily entail austerity at the local level. Maybe the fault was not Thatcher’s but that of the Manchester city council.

      The neoliberal propaganda machine can be quite effective. It also convinced much of the world that Augusto Pinochet, although a murderous tyrants, was a very successful manager of the Chilean economy.

      Regards. James

    5. Doug Roberts says:

      James,

      Municipal & other council budgets are funded partly by taxes on the population of the council area, and partly by grants from central government. It’s possible the Manchester city government wasn’t very good at prioritising spending, but almost certain their budget was cut by reductions in national government spending.

    6. John Doyle says:

      Beyond all this current madness is the prospect that the situation will only worsen as the economy continues to deflate. Less spending all round will drive us citizens into times we thought left behind for good. Maintenance will be an early casualty of deflation, recession and inevitably depression. Welcome to the start of a new world!

    7. Nigel Hargreaves says:

      James Schipper. “The UK is not a federal state, but don’t British municipal governments have their own revenue base and budgets.?”

      Yes local authorities in the UK have their own revenue base by way of the Council Tax on properties (paid by both owners and tenants) and they also have income from tourism and parking fines. But a large proprtion of local authority income is made up from central government funding, which has been cut and cut to the bone. Accordingly, the local authorities have either had to cut services or increase council tax. Most authorities have opted for the former for political expediency, so effectively we now have far fewer services – mostly those directed at the disabled and disadvantaged – over the past few years.
      This is now going to get even worse, because on the BBC News this morning it was said that Osborne will be announcing in his Mansion House speech this evening that the government will be putting it into law that no government can spend more than it raises in taxes

      I had high hopes for Osborne but it is now clear – £3 billion of cuts announced yesterday – that he has no notion of how the modern money system works. Sure, he allowed a greater deficit than he wanted during the last parliament, but that was only to make things look better than they were so that we idiots then voted for him (well not this idiot). Now he has a mandate to wreak untold evil on the economy.
      Bill, I hope you read the text of his speech and respond accordingly in your next blog. Not that anyone is listening in the corridors of power.

    8. J Christensen says:

      I am begining to wonder if the neo liberal goal wasn’t to prove once and for all, that small continuous deficits are essential by demonstrating to the pro minimal government/business knows best/ balanced budget loudmouths what happens when that path is not taken in the longterm? If so I think the point has been made long ago and things have become dangerous due to neglect. I can think of numerous examples from my own experience were this has been the case .

      Neo liberalism’s only accomplishment has been to position short term private sector profit making and the creation of rentier opportunity ahead of well planned longterm investment and planning in the public interest which pay for theselves in real terms.

      Neoliberalism is clearly at cross purposes with public safety and societal well being and some of it’s enablers already have blood on their hands in the very real sense.

      The private and public sectors each have distinct strengths and contributions to make but neither can claim to be a one pony show.

    9. Hacky The Hufrex says:

      Nigel

      That’s essentially correct but Council tax increases are also capped and local authorities get a financial reward for keeping increases low. Manchester is a leading light of the Tory/Labour love-in. George Osborne has cited Manchester as a well run council and Manchester Council have fully cooperated with all con/dem initiatives over the last five years. Manchester has been a welfare reform pilot area. According to their press release, MCC has reduced its budget by £250 million over the last five years. Their accounts are available on the MCC website. At the same time Manchester has seen very large population growth, partly due to population fleeing from the Eurozone. Cuts of at least £30 million per year are to be expected from the MCC budget over the next five years. Figures are published on the MCC website every year.

      Bill

      You should also look at the way that the GP funding formula has changed in the UK to favour richer areas. As GPs are gatekeepers to healthcare in the NHS system, this results in desperate need within poorer areas being ignored while richer areas have the funding to allow their GPs to chase the remaining services. Richer areas have been protected from a lot of the cuts.

    10. Doug Roberts says:

      “This is now going to get even worse, because on the BBC News this morning it was said that Osborne will be announcing in his Mansion House speech this evening that the government will be putting it into law that no government can spend more than it raises in taxes”

      Into law? I didn’t see that in the papers. How is it even possible to mandate something the government can’t achieve?

    11. Neil Wilson says:

      “Yes local authorities in the UK have their own revenue base by way of the Council Tax on properties ”

      And any increases in the tax are capped by central government. Anything higher than a 2% rise has to be put to a local referendum – with the council footing the bill for the referendum.

      Expect tighter caps now the LibDems have gone.

    12. Bob says:

      “Expect tighter caps now the LibDems have gone.”
      Indeed. They never put VAT rises to a referendum, only property taxes.

    13. Kevin Harding says:

      Osbourne’s surplus targets are only achievable on the back of growth.
      One effective source of stimulus is running out,PPI payouts. Wages are
      still flatlining .It seems the only sauce of increased spending is immigration
      and increasing private sector debt .Can this really be sustainable?

    14. micky9finger says:

      White ants? Are those termites?
      James Schipper: if the over all macroeconomic situation is one of high unemployment and underemployment being caused by the feds then the tax base will not allow local govs to collect; or you can’t get blood from a turnip ( or whatever.)

    15. larry says:

      Bill, I listened with great interest to what Victor Quirk had to say about what was going on in Australia between the wars. Can I take it that Australia was on the gold standard during most of this period? Were that so, there were still advocates of full employment even under this constraint. Which makes what is going on today even more pernicious. Then Victor Quirk said that in the thirties, Australia’s fiat economy had backers advocating the right to work and placing people onto government work programs. Should I understand that by this time, Australia had, like the US, gone off the gold standard? This would then mean Australia had an economic system not unlike the one we have today. And I would guess that Australia followed the Bretton Woods system after the war. Yet, even then, there were Labor advocates of full employment and government work schemes.

      Given that there were government spending constraints during part of the interwar period and after the implementation of the Bretton Woods system, to some economists like Theodore and others, it was still seen as economically responsible to advocate full employment and government work schemes. And like then, we have businesses (HSBC the most recent) trying to blackmail governments into capitulating to their socially debilitating demands.

      Only one conclusion seems possible, given that we have no such constraints on government spending under our current economic system: as previously, we are once again witnessing a revolt of the elites with perhaps this difference: in the interwar period they tried to retain what they had, while now (and earlier) they want to regain what they believe to have been illegitimately taken from them. In the US, the middle class is slowly being decimated. It is not quite Marx’s class war but one of the 99% (90%) against the 1% (10%).

    16. Hacky The Hufrex says:

      Marx’s division between proletariat and peasant was due to peasants siding with the aristocracy in 1848. David Harvey’s speeches on the importance of the city were a nod to this. The relative stability of the post-war period has created the illusion of security amongst the elite. This is only likely to create a tipping point. Cities can erupt into warzones overnight and then everyone is forced to decide which side they are on but the propaganda war in the next revolution won’t be decided on the issue of feudal loyalty. The media coverage of recent history suggests that the issue of criminality will become highly contested.

    17. Jamie Johnson says:

      While people ‘.. hanging around hospitals are not attending to other activities – work, play etc – all of which compound…’, the real purpose of increasing wait times at NHS hospitals is to increase dissatisfaction, so when the mantra of ‘improved services through privatisation’ starts up people will go, yeah, the NHS is shite, let’s go with the more efficient private services. Works like a charm every time.

    18. J Christensen says:

      Jamie Johnson, Yep I have been thinking the same thing about public health delivery here in Canada. The provinces can’t issue the currency so if the federal government doesn’t spend enough everything public eventually starts to look like shite to the uneducated eye.

    19. J Christensen says:

      Jaime, whether it’s by pupose or not that is the effect austerity has on the perception of public institutions. It’s very slow and yet subtle enough for cause and effect to be difficult to connect for those who have not learned a little MMT.

    20. Martin Odoni says:

      If only more people could stop confusing money with resources. Money is a token, a resource is something that can actually be used or consumed.

    21. Pension60 says:

      Austerity was tried and failed in the 1920s in England. It did nothing to prevent the 1929 crash that came from America.

      Waiting times in English NHS hospitals are because daft managers have you sign in A and E and sit there for 3 hours and then be seen. The government says seen with 3-4 hours, so that daft managers take that literal.

      Never do A and E customers come in anything but feast or famine, so there is no queue, and we all just move together who arrived in a clump 3 hours ago.

      The Labour sacked Labour party councillors who voted against austerity cuts budgets in councils. Thatcher sacked an entire council who spent money when they were told to cut spending.

      There are no rat catchers left, state or private.

      The Tories are presiding over a huge rise in workfare and low waged, on so low pay they need benefit and that benefit being cut or lost altogether. This means most workers have not the money to spend. Without money to spend, the economy just reduces.

      The sewerage drains are nothing to do with government spending in the UK any more and are entirely to do with the privatised water and sewerage companies.

      It appears to me that there is a ‘grand coalition’ between the Tories and Labour, like happened between New Democracy and PASOK in Greece. Labour has no reason left to exist, with its voters no longer voting either for them or any other party. This means 70 per cent of people in England and Wales have no representation in the London UK parliament.

      The SNP win in Scotland only helped the Scots against austerity. SNP voted along with the Tories for austerity that will hit the people of England and Wales now that Scotland will get Devo Max.

      Austerity is only for the poorest people getting ever poorer, dragging down the bottom of the average waged along with them. The rich have been getting richer and richer. The rich know that in history this has always been not a good idea. Only the politicians are hidden away unsighted inside the Westminster Bubble and don’t see the rage.

      You in Australia don’t see the austerity cuts protests of average people, because it is not reported in the newspapers or on the TV news.

      But this means our universities and finance people think there is no protest and the people of England and Wales are silent about austerity cuts.

      It is good in Australia you have law compelling voting.

      In England and Wales we have winning MPs in voting areas where the non-voters for ANY party are neck and neck with the voting number of the so-called winning MP. Sometimes it can be as low a figure as about 10,000 votes for the winning MP and 50,000 did not vote for any party.

      Labour has lost. The Tories did not win. In 2 UK elections.

      The non-voters keep having landslide victories.

      It is Labour voters who do not vote at all the most or keep registered to vote.

      The Tory voters seem to be reducing as a percentage of the population, with the Tories in this election only get about a quarter of all votes. That is because Tory voters are growing old.

      The young don’t vote or start registration to vote in the UK.

      They did in Scotland, and we saw the results. The SNP wiped out all other parties, gaining 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland, and getting an 80 per cent turnout with the 16 to 18 year olds about to vote.

      The UK si a bit more complex.

      But Labour in Australia is a life-saver in comparison to Abbott, that is even more Tory than the UK Tories and will literally kill a whole variety of Australians by his policies.

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