Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Osborne, Disciple of '60s Childcare Guru

Young Gideon Osborne was on the Today programme this morning, doing a fair imitation of a politico with the wind in his sails. Others will deconstruct his appalling budget better than I, but I was struck by his sheer chutzpah on one matter: having announced yesterday that all non protected public service departments are facing a 25% cut when the figures are sorted out in the autumn, he backtracked a little and seemed to say that if larger 'savings' can be found in the benefits budget then cuts to services need not be quite so severe.

Now where have I heard this sort of thing before? Oh yes: Dr Spock, the childcare guru of choice for your average concerned parent in the 1960s and 1970s, so quite possibly someone Gideon's own mater and pater encouraged their nanny to read.

You may recall the good Doctor's advice on how to encourage a toddler to eat properly - give them a closed option in the form of a choice: "Are you going to eat your greens up before or after you eat the meat?"& it worked, as a whole generation of people who are now grandparents will testify.

Well, mainly it worked. There is also the case of my friend Andy. A couple of weeks into this new Spock inspired regime 3 yr old Andrew was eating his greens - but then he turned round and asked, "Dad - are you going to buy me an ice cream before you take me to the park or after you take me to the park?" .

Which does seem to me to be precisely the place for opposition to this lot to start from.


  1. Charlie, the more important question the Liberal-Tories have asked is - "How do YOU think we should pay for the Deficit?" In various blogs I've sugegsted a range of answers to that question that the Labour Movement could mobilise around, if we organised local Conferences in each Community to discuss them.

    However, I've found from experience that if you want to build large scale support for soemthing, a single simple idea is most succesful. In my latest blog
    How To Pay For The Deficit

    I've put forward such a solution. Briefly, it requires that every limited company be required to create new shares equal to 10% of their issued share Capital, and hand them over to the government. As the total value of shares listed on the Stock Market comes to more than a trillion pounds, that means more than £100 billion.

    Because this Tax is paid in shares not Cash it doesn't affect the profitability, Cash Flow etc. of those companies, or their ability to invest. What it does require is that the deficit be paid exclusively by Capital. That's why the Liberal-Tories will not agree to it, but why the Labour Movement should propose it.

  2. Ah, you're back! It's good to see you blogging again.

  3. Hi Both,
    I have been reading both of your blogs despite my own lack of interesting thoughts to post.(Or perhaps I should say because of my own lack of interesting thoughts, as I've been looking for inspiration...)

    Boffy - I am mulling over the implications of your suggested policy. It vaguely reminds me of the 'pension fund socialism' approach once advocated in Scandinavia and which Robin Blackburn sometimes now trumpets - except, of course, your idea is based on a massive transfer of wealth and power without any existing asset like the pension to use as leverage. So it's surely, at best, a rhetorical demand ? Dare I suggest one intended to be Transitional in the traditional Trotskyist sense? (i.e. the sense in which everyone else on the left rejects). Do correct me if I'm wrong.

    & Education isn't to be dismissed as a secondary issue - well, not if you're a parent of school aged kids like me. I'm really worried about the Gove reforms and I think they have toally wrong footed the left.

    Rick - I think you're a star blogger. I really like the fact you're coming from such a different place to me. I think you prowl the other side of the political/management divide to me me, but I am interested in what goes on on your side of the fence . I think your blog is a kind of HR equivalent to Stumbling and Mumbling on economics, and I don't give out much higher praise for blogging than that.

  4. Blimey, HR's answer to Dillow.....I don't know what to say!

    Thanks Charlie, you're a real gent. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff now you're back.

  5. Charlie,

    Yes, the idea is similar to the Pension Scheme that was implemented in Sweden for several years, and which Robin Blackburn advocates. Actually, I've written about that too in stuff I've written about a Workers Pension Fund. My argument along the lines of other stuff I've written about Co-ops, is that the problem with the Swedish Scheme was precisely that it was run by the State, and could be, and was withdrawn by the State. I advocate a Workers Pension Fund that would be basically the existing funds, but placed under Workers Control rather than the control of the big Finance Houses - which is something that would require the Trade Unions to mount a big campaign for, but which is not an unreasonable demand even in terms of bourgeois democracy, because it is after all OUR money - the abolition of National Insurance, and transfer of an appropriate amount from the State to cover the notional State Pension Pot, and a negotiation by the TUC with ALL employers for a given monetary payment into the scheme - in this case I prefer money so that WE can choose how to invest that money, and so that the issue of new shares does not dilute existing shares owned. I estimate such a fund would be worth around £2 trillion at least even today. It would give huge leverage for the labour Movement over companies even where we did not simply buy them out.

    However, back to the Deficit suggestion. I do not consider it a "Transitional" demand. Generally speaking TD's were conceived as demands to be used in a revolutionary situation as demands that took workres from their existing reformist conscioussness towards a revolutionary perpsective. Outside a revolutionary situation they are pretty meaningless, which most Trots don't understand as I pointed out in a letter last week to the Weekly Worker. This suggestion is different.

    I favour a widespread campaign against the cuts, including those in Education you refer to. However, the question is how to do that - blog to follow. I suggest that simply being oppositional is not enough. We have to provide new alternatives - obviously along the lines I have previously outlined for Co-ops, or at least greater demcoracy and so on.

    In that respect I see the Tories invitation to participate - which they don't mean - as highly important. Let's do what they ask, what could be more reasonable. let's particpate, let's put forward OUR alternatives, let's produce good arguments for them, and let them try to explain why they won't accept them. I don;t suggest just this one demand, but to use it as a symbol. We mount a campaign, we basically say we agree that things need to change this is how we think they should change. Schools should be better, parents should have more control, so should teachers and students. This is how WE would do it. The same with hospitals, with Local Government.

    We should not fall into an Economism that simply let's the Tories set the agenda, and all we are left with is to fight limited struggles to defend the status quo, and fighting it on the basis of individual or sectional self-interest. That traps us within bourgeois ideology - see my blogs on Ghetto politics.

    As a symbol this simple suggestion says, here is how the deficit could be paid. They won't do it, because of who and what they are. Argue for it and see. In the meantime, whilst we join you in fighting to defend services bear that lesson in mind, and understand the need to create new solutions that do not depend on the bosses or their state.

  6. Just to add a further clarifier I see it something like this. If a boss says the firm is facing tough times, and needs cash, then as a union organiser I'd point out if he'd just bought himself a new Bentley. I'd suggest that before calling on the workers to make sacrifices he raised the money by selling his Bentley, or scrapping the Executive Dining Room.

    In fact, if none of these things applied, I would not be averse to the idea of saying to the boss, if you want us to make sacrifices, we should get something in return for that. Here's an idea, if you are short of money, sell part of the Company to us. And as new part owners we will of course want a say in how its run, we'll want to have the books op-ened so we can see exactly what we are buying, and so on.

    I see it in the same terms in relation to the bosses state.