National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Dr Vince and Wartime analogy
During his conference speech Dr Vince Cable made a comparison of the Economic crisis to being at war. He was slated by some critics for his comments but I think they have some veracity and wartime experiences can be called upon by the populous to help with the austerity measures.
Firstly the comparison. The world is struggling to sort itself out after the cataclysmic blow caused by reckless banking and misuse of the economy by different governments but like the war it has struck everyone from every walk of life. None of us has got away without being touched by it in one way or the other. Unlike the German threat of the early 40s we are not likely to be overrun or suffer casualties but we all need to unite to defeat it and come out the other side, it might be even worth a national Government forming like the ones in the 1930's and during both World Wars. The threat is real and it is here until we, as in everyone in the country or even Europe and the world need to solve.
There are always lessons from history which can be learnt and reapplied where necessary, there is no need to re learn what history can always show us. One of them is how to be careful with money in our own house holds. With the U-boat blockade of the UK food stuffs became a rationed due to low numbers, now it is not so much that certain foods are rare just too expensive to buy. Why not turn, as our grandparents did, to growing your own veg. Flowers are all well and good but if you have the space, and I know a lot of people in urban areas don't, then why not give it a go? I did it a year or so ago and my wife and I grew Corn on the cob, Potatoes, Tomatoes, we have a pear tree already, and green pepper. This year we have pepper, tomato and strawberries! Nothing tastes better than your own veg - strangely! There is also the war time mindset of being frugal, waste is the Hun's best friend etc. Money is tight so don't throw it away.
The Big Society seems to be rooted in an idealised version of the 1950's - The Conservative party's heyday, and of a community that helps each other and volunteers. In the 1940's my Great Grandfather bread rabbits and traded the meat with a neighbour for vegetables, and other neighbours for other things. My Grandfather would trade his tobacco ration for vodka with the Russians (in occupied Austria) and then trade Vodka with the Americans for other luxury goods like chocolate etc. The same thing can go on now. If you have an allotment why not trade with someone else. Indeed a neighbour of mine offered me a bag of Cooking apples in exchange for a bag of Pears. Why not pull together as a community like this?
Now is not the time for party politics and partisan point scoring. The nation is in crisis, if we go down a no cuts scheme we could end up like Greece and folding financially. Also with cuts and austerity measures- something is going to be got rid of... I'm sorry but it has to. In your own lives if you can't afford a thing you don't buy it, or if you are having a tight month you cut out the luxuries so why shouldn't the Government? Take for example Libraries. Now I'm a massive book worm and collector and I love libraries and think they are important in society however the simple truth is people just don't use them as much as they should. Is it thusly wrong for the Government to cut some of the lesser used ones and save money? I read an article in the Evening Standard that highlighted this when they asked a member of the public;
"How do you feel about the cutting of your library?"
The member of the public rallied about how awful it was etc.
"How often do you use the library?" They were asked.
I know some of the cuts have been devastating and I don't agree with all of them, and protest isn't a bad thing at all, quite the opposite, we shouldn't all meekly do what we are told by the Government because... well they're in charge... However you have to remember that they are making tough decisions for the benefit of this country and cannot save everything. At the moment it feels (to me anyway) Mr Miliband's opposition are not offering alternate routes, merely criticising the Government. The double standard of Ed Balls saying the Cuts are wrong but forbidding his colleagues from promising to turn the cuts around should they get into power. Now is not the time.
If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
I challenge Labour to help, come up with viable alternatives and methods rather than ney saying. Don't do it for the political points, the polls, the future voters. Do it for Great Britain and her people, the jobless, the poor, those who will suffer because of your administration's cock ups. They need you to stand up for them. Offer alternatives. If all our MPs are not working to the one goal of victory then we will end in defeat.
There is also a certain amount of truth in having to work with our Allies. Now I know it seems strange thinking of the Germans and the French as our Allies but Europe is in need of our help too. It is true that a damaged Europe means a damaged Britain. We do a fair amount of our trading with Europe and are in need of their markets and their exports. Should we stop supporting them they may collapse and then who will buy our exports? Business will suffer and more jobs will be lost.
Of course there is also the possibility of War time self sufficiency and supporting British industry over foreign imports but that takes time and is expensive and ultimately isolates us from the rest of the world. Unlike 1940's Britain, we don't have these institutions in place and an Empire to support it.
Many laughed at Doctor Vince but there is indeed truth in his analogy, we are at war, not a physical war against Germany but a financial war against an enemy that doesn't physically exist and we must combat it in the same old style of frugalness, community and collectively.