What strikes me as particularly strange about the impending wave of cuts is the way in which the British public have been duped into seeing George Osborne’s project as a form of gung-ho revenge against those who got us into this mess. The problem is that this revenge is being exacted on the public sector, which had little to do with creating the recession.
Tough talk about cutting down ‘public sector fat cats’ from the Tories seems to satisfy those hungry to see the rich take a fall in this Age of Thrift, even though the wealthy people who created the credit crunch – the bankers – are being left largely unscathed. Apparently it’s enough to see anyone with a bit more cash than you or me punished, it doesn’t matter if they are guilty or not.
By cutting ministerial pay and publishing the wage details of the highest paid public sector workers, Cameron’s government has diverted the wave of national resentment against those perceived to be overpaid and toying with our economy squarely towards our public services. This is particularly convenient for the coalition, as it provides cover for policies of deference towards the City of London, and oncoming cuts.
One of the biggest potential casualties of the cuts is the BBC, which recently had its licence fee frozen at £145.50 for six years after David Cameron attacked the organisation for being ‘wasteful’. The problem is that no one seems to mind that the best broadcaster in the world is being demolished before our eyes. The BBC has, partly through its own errors, fallen victim to the public will to punish.
The ‘Sachsgate’ fiasco lead to quite a battering for the broadcaster, and even though it occurred in 2008 (just when the financial meltdown begun) for a while it received a similar level of coverage across the media. So, the BBC is punished because two overpaid but popular entertainers said something to an old man that made him react with what can only be called mild disappointment. Meanwhile, the rest of Britain went berserk; Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross’ actions served to paint the BBC in the same light as the bankers – out of touch, wasteful and in need of comeuppance.
Alongside the BBC’s minor error, the banking sector collapsed and plunged us into recession. Yet Osborne has only installed a pathetic levy on the banks, and even scaled it back recently when it emerged that it would raise more money than planned. Whether or not the Tories are wholly responsible for this redirection of public anger is debatable. The fact remains that they are using it to cut down organisations that have nothing to do with our current predicament, and the people of Britain could end up as victims of their own anger.