Saturday, 9 May 2015

Why a majority Conservative government is bad for Scotland

Here is why a Conservative government is bad, even for Scotland with our own budget and an SNP-packed Holyrood. I wrote this as a Facebook post, but it's far too big.

Political parties are made up of people who have a similar mindset on how certain things should work in an ideal world. One of the main differences is (or was) the purpose of government. This is where the left/right wing terminology comes into play.

Left wing parties such as (old) Labour, The Greens, SSP etc believe that government is fundimentally there to serve the interests of the people, and look for ways to provide more for the largest amount of people. They believe in helping people who cannot help themselves.

Right wing parties such as The Conservatives and UKIP believe that the government should not get involved in the personal lives of people, and should play as little a role as possible. They believe in helping people who help themselves.

Centrist parties include New Labour, Lib Dems and SNP. They all lean a bit more to the left or right of centre, but all believe that government has to play a role in helping both people and businesses succeed. This isn't a lazy approach. It requires leniency to businesses on some occasions and generosity to the people on others, and also knowing which to choose.

I know people with all of these views and I would not say that either is evil, or either is the "right one". I can say that without a shadow of a doubt though, that the current Conservative government is a bad thing for us.

The main reason is that their approach to economic is flawed. You don't even need to be an economist. It's even wrong if you believe in right wing politics. Our large and prolonged austerity program, where taxes are raised and spending is cut, results in less money for ordinary people like you and I, which is bad news for businesses because it means you and I have less to spend.

Because we have less to spend, and businesses suffer, we can say that the economy is shrinking, not growing. This means that the government have to borrow more money. Cuts, as they are seen in the UK, do not allow us to repay the deficit. They mean that the country has to borrow even more! The Conservative and Lib Dem government have borrowed far more in their 5 years in power than a Labour governmenf did in almost 15 years.

Where has this money gone? Well, one of the other things that brings political parties together is a belief in how public services should be provided. Aside from smaller government, the other main pillar for Right wing political parties is that they see the free market (supply and demand) as being far more efficient than publically run organisations.

Where the public (ie government) run a public service, it is run for public good. Where a public service is run by a private company, it is run for profit. Cutting public spending and replacing this hole by allowing the private sector to fill it means that jobs and services which were paid for by public money are now filled by private companies and their employees. This is seen as good for the economy by the Right, because it looks like it increases employment. This is because private firms can employ more people by paying them less. Usually it's the same people doing the same job (or more) for less pay.

An example is hospital cleaning. If you are employed by the NHS to clean hospital wards, your primary motivation will be to make sure patients have a clean ward. If you are employed by a private cleaning company who have been contracted to provide cleaning services, your main motivation will be to do your job. This will be guided by what the company want you to do. They want to increase profits, so you are going to be asked to clean a wider area in the same time as you would have been given before so that the company can see a return on investment.

We are borrowing more because we are cutting very heavily and the work still needs to be done so we pay private companies to come in and do a the same job for profit instead of public benefit. The extra money we are borrowing as a country goes into the pockets of rich people who own established businesses and is then "trickled down" to employees (ie us). Instead of a private companies profits coming from the general public spending their own money (and letting the market decide which businesses are good and bad), public money from the government is used instead.

This Conservative government are more interested in making themselves and people they see as "them" (as in, not you and I) more wealthy. They are helping people who help themselves to help themselves.

This is especially bad for Scotland because we don't spend what we put into the system. We spend what we are given based on a number of factors. We essentially get a share of money in the pot. If the pot is smaller (because the economy is shrinking and money the UK borrow is tied up in private support disguised as public spending) then Scotland gets less. The more moderate approach of the SNP of increasing spending and paying our deficit back slower, as and when the economy grows will never get a chance to see the light of day.

A majority Conservative government who have already committed to even deeper cuts (which even the IMF say are going to harm the economy, not heal it) means less money for Scotland. It means there is less money for the majority SNP government to work with, and means they can't increase public spending at the rate they would like. It means that you and I will still be worse off, despite publicly rejecting right wing politics by voting in the centrist SNP.

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