Tuesday, December 27, 2011

UK plunges into moral, economic decline


Austerity measures are having such an adverse social impact on British youth that some of them have to find sex work in order to pay their tuition fees. 
The Archbishop of Canterbury has delivered his Christmas 2011 sermon, focusing on the dismal British economy and where it is headed.

Press TV has interviewed Webster Griffin Tarpley, author and journalist from Washington to discuss the current economic situation in Britain.

What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview:

Press TV: Mr. Tarpley, before I go to the question of the banking system and what should be done by the government, first let's discuss what we saw in London and what we are seeing in the US where you are. What's been called the riots, the looting that happened and the archbishop was referring to that looting and riots and he was raising a lot of concern there.

One question is how the governments in both countries have been responding to these protests, cracking down on them or asking people to go back home. Is this a historic mistake that the governments are making and is this the right way forward in dealing with these protests?

Tarpley: I think in the case of the British regime that we have right now with [British Prime Minister David] Cameron and [British Chancellor George] Osborne, we have a government which has chosen to respond to a world banking panic with a deflationary policy of austerity meaning savage, brutal cuts in what remains of the social safety net causing a vast increase in the rate of poverty and despair.

We have this in the Republican Party here. We have one [US presidential] candidate Ron Paul who wants to cut one trillion dollars out of the US federal budget which would; I'm sure cause riots here.

The Cameron, Osborne budget of May last year is the direct precursor and in many ways the cause of these riots but I would like to say something first about the Archbishop of Canterbury- I don't regard him as a humanitarian leader, I don't regard him as a moral authority.

I regard him as a kind of signal light for the British ruling class, for the British oligarchy, for the financiers of the city of London and everything that goes with the British establishment, what he's basically saying to them is: our power could be in danger.

A signal light goes on. I'm thinking of for example the moment when the British oligarchy decided that King Edward the eighth had gone too far down the road with Hitler and become some kind of an embarrassment, he had to go.

In this case I think it's a signal light that when you have Cameron and Osborne with one quarter of Britain already living in poverty by the Roundtree Foundation definition.

If we are going to pitch a 100 thousand more children into poverty, fire 1.4 million civil servants or public workers, this is now getting very grim and the riots may be just a precursor of what's coming.

The other thing which the Archbishop doesn't talk about is I think a fear in the British ruling class that what Cameron has done, vis-a-vie Europe threatens the future of Britain. If you look at the city of London it is in many ways one of the greatest concentrations of speculative finance in the world.

It's kind of a parasite on the world economy when you have these institutions like the London [International Currency Exchange] ICE exchange that drives up the price of energy when you have the Liffe or Life futures exchange or the LCH.Clearnet which is the place where they declare crises for Greece or Italy or some other country.

These institutions cannot live without exploiting, some would say parasitizing for example the economic activity of France, Germany, Italy and so forth.

What Cameron has done- he's chosen to make this break, precisely on the issue of will the city of London be regulated or not and above all will the speculative turnover of the British financial sector be taxed and this is something that the Archbishop, to his credit, has talked about.

The idea of a city of London sales tax or he calls it a Robin Hood tax, if you had this Robin Hood tax- there are many versions- but if you had that tax, that if it were sufficient, if it were 1 percent let's say, that would be enough to maintain the pensions- the other aspects of the British social safety net.

Unfortunately I think what the archbishop talks about is something that would go more to the world wildlife fund of Prince Philip to take care of the Penguins and the Polar bears, whereas it's really British working people.

Press TV: In Washington, Mr. Tarpley, the critics in the UK are saying the government is not putting enough care or is not taking responsibility about the social impact that this austerity drive is having, specially on the youth.

I have this recent study by Leeds University saying that 25 percent of strippers and lap dancers are students in the UK and they have to find sex work because of the situation of the tuition fees.

So do you think that here now the government is actually refusing to take responsibility or simply as the activists are saying doesn't care about the impact that it's creating and what dangers it's going to pose to the government later on?

Tarpley: The Tory reactionaries, Cameron and Osborne and the rest of them, with Clegg from the Liberal Party if you can believe that, they have decided to shift the cost of the world economic depression as far as Britain is concerned off the backs of the city of London bankers and finance capitalists and oligarchs and on to the backs of working people but also the middle class.

The signature thing I think last year was when this new government said from now on you have got to pay if you want to go to a university which was a tremendous blow, basically wiping up the future for the people who now ought to be attending college.

This does not work economically, in other words the super austerity is a failure in its own terms, it doesn't balance the budget, it actually increases the deficit by having a recession which they're now finding.

But it also could lead to something like what we had with Wilson and Heath in the mid-seventies when people were wondering will the British Isles disappear below the waters of the North Sea in economic terms.

In the entire English speaking world now we've just gotten through with the Christmas holiday, anybody who turned on a television or even a radio has heard the Dickens Christmas carol, probably in about a dozen versions, and when you hear Scrooge ranting about prisons, workhouses, treadmills and the poor law this is the mentality of Cameron and Osborne.

And the other thing is they are going from the Thatcher playbook, the 30 year ago interlude that the other guest referred to. The Thatcher playbook is you can have crushing, brutal, savage austerity at home; you can bust the unions, you can attack public workers and do all these things, provided you have some kind of a foreign adventure going.

And that would be in the case of Cameron he had plenty of money to bomb Libya and now he's said the coming year is going to be the year of Somalia. So the former British colony of Libya or Italian Libya whatever was and - now it's going to be British Somali land.

This is his gambit to keep the Chauvinists and the coronel blimps happy and try to dominate the elections with this and I think what the Archbishop is trying to suggest is this is a failing package.

Press TV: If you can tell me in 30 seconds that major question of where Britain is according to the Archbishop or where Britain is heading to?

Tarpley: I would just like to say that the secessionism is the ruling class program, the busting up of the nation's sates into impotent entities is exactly what they want under the IMF [International Monetary Fund].

I think Britain right now is threatened by the fact that if we get a European banking panic in the next couple of months that would bring down the city of London in a panic and at that point Britain has almost nothing left.

I mean, here in the US we still have some farm production, we still have a few factories left but the deindustrialization of Britain is gone so far that if the city of London collapses, you have a really grim scene with terrible danger. 

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