On Wednesday Chancellor Phillip Hammond will announce his Autumn Budget, the first after the General Election – with attention growing by the day on what it will contain. Fleshy oranges or cobwebs? Spreadshit Phil is not known to revel in budget surprises, more an obsession with fiscal particulars and drab financial policies that are classic Tory neo-liberalism to the bone. However, we are now entering a new paradigm.. where Britain isn’t guaranteed a clear cut deal on exit from the European Union and where jobs and prosperity are certainly going to be put on the line. Britain needs to prove to itself that it is prepared and ready to craft a future for itself in a world without the European Union. Britain needs to borrow and invest at a time of economic downturn. It is simple economics. Therefore it is imperative that he considers a mass building programme of homes and infrastructure not seen in this country since the 1950’s.
This means putting billions into upgrading railway lines between cities across the North and restoring previously closed branch lines. Enough time has been wasted over the last six months debating whether the Trans-Pennine line is worthy of being electrified thanks to our darling Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. It is no longer a matter worthy of debate. This also means giving cities across the country the transport infrastructure they need to keep attracting investment and make communities integrated and connected (give Leeds her trams, Liverpool a proper Metro, connect Manchester and Sheffield proper – even our large towns need rapid mass transportation systems). This can be achieved with the devolution agreements set by Whitehall, by giving them what they need to prosper in the decades to come.
A mass house building programme is needed to provide for the present not just the future, decades of speculation on property and control of supply has led us into this mess. However, asking the contemporary Tory set to commit to anything close to MacMillan’s 300,000 a year in the mid-50’s would be like asking them to colonise Mars. Any pledge they make isn’t worth the paper it is written on unless they put the money aside. Hammond is no fool, he made his £8 million fortune off the back of privately developing healthcare centres for a housing development company so knows how the market works.
They need to understand that a solid industrial strategy, backed up by investment is needed to ensure high quality jobs and apprenticeships are created for future generations in the absence of EU social funding. I believe we are not far off becoming a nation of SIA badge holders and Amazon warehouse order pickers. How far off are we now from Napoleon’s nation of shopkeepers cry? The race to the bottom with work and productivity in this country (we are the lowest out of the G7 countries now after the Global financial crash) can be stopped and even reversed. It will however take some – wait for it – intervention.
I concur with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s call for an emergency budget. For us to restore the years of anomie that public service cuts have caused – which have hit the poorest in this country the hardest and invest in our future prosperity, we can start to buffer any damage walking away from the European Union may or will cause. Public services provide an invaluable and fundamental service that cannot be measured against any amount of capital or profit. These bold steps would only be just the start of addressing the root of the problem of our hollowed out economy and a political system that refuses to govern for the many at present. Lets see if Hammond has the vision to do so. Something tells me otherwise. The Tories cannot comprehend why every age group under the age of 50 voted Labour. They do not understand the mess they are in and that they themselves are the cause of it. The political subconscious is working overtime but it will be too late before it becomes latent. God forbid though if they actually did though, just look at Venezuela right?