Whatever happened to austerity, George? This question screams off the front pages of today’s papers.
This curiosity has been prompted by the Chancellor’s announcement that the government will go an a £27-billion spending spree, something that doesn’t quite tally with its much-vaunted austerity drive.
Is austerity dead then? That’s a good question to which there’s a good answer. Austerity isn’t dead because it never lived.
Like most things political these days, the notion existed in the virtual world only. It had nothing to do with reality.
The government still wasn’t paying its way, our sovereign debt was still growing, the wolf was still at the door. A Tory Chancellor doesn’t do austerity any better than his Labour counterpart. He just has to talk austerity to earn his PR keep.
There’s nothing new about this, which I’m going to prove by re-running my earlier article George the Builder Will Look After You Mate. I apologise to my foreign readers for the idiosyncratic idiom and references only understandable to a British reader. But hey, it’s satire, mate, djahmean?
“Which cowboy built this economy then? Oh no, gov, can’t pin this one on me.
“Look, mate, this house was falling down, like, when I got the call. 2010 it was, when the call came. I was having me cuppa Rosie, listening to N**gaz With Attitude, when me mate Dave called, saying George, I want you to be me builder, mate. Shore the booger up, djahmean?
“Off I go like a goodun, and what do I find? The debt is well weak, way down. Not even a trillion, mate, just over a half is all. Ain’t big enough to keep the welfare roof over tenants’ heads, djahmean?
“So I put me scaffolding up – it’s made by Austerity, you know them blokes in Westminster – and go to work. Bit of repointing here, some grouting there and look at it now. 1.36 trillion quid and going up well strong! Sorted.
“Then them Greeks call me mate Dave, saying Dave, gizza hand, mate, every year we go over the budget, half a per cent at least. It’s like we have a grand but spend a grand-five – no good that, ain’t no way to build an economy.
“And me mate Dave’s like, too bloody right, can’t build an economy that way. Look at me mate George the Builder, he says. Spends five per cent more ‘n he has every year, that’s 50 quid over every budget grand, and the house is growing like Corbyn’s support.
“That’s the way to build, Dave says. Good lad George. That way you’re sure the debt will stay well up and never fall down.
“And people will trust you. They see that Austerity scaffolding on the building, they know George the Builder’s at work. Satisfaction guaranteed, djahmean?
“And it ain’t just houses, mate. Roads, railways, airports, power-stations – I can build them all. Just call your George the Builder, show him the dosh, and Dave’s your uncle, Theresa’s your aunt. Sorted.
“Where’s the dosh going to come from? That’s your problem, mate, not mine. You make it, I spend it, djahmean? Do what I do when I’m short, borrow. Easy as pie, a right doddle, mate. Things get built, houses go up, so does the debt – sorted.
“A new way to build, that’s what I, George the Builder, stand for. Power to the people, djahmean? People like me and me mate Dave.
“The other day we was having a swift pint of wifebeater at King’s Head, and Dave’s like, George me old China, he says, it’s like doing a slag who’s pissed unconscious. You do her, and she don’t even know she got done.
“Next morning she wakes up all sore, calls the filth, and you’re like, who me? She done it herself, gov, she voted to get done, djahmean? Consent of the done, like. Judge gives her a kick up the Khyber, you go down the pub – sorted.
“Well smart, Dave is. That’s what the building trade’s all about, take it from me. As long as we have them Russians, Chinese and Arabs buying up me houses, things will go up. And when they stop – well, things will still be going up. Don’t know how, but they will. Up and up, that’s what it’s all about, djahmean? Up’s the word, mate.
“Just listen to your mate George the Builder. You know what me slogan is? Got it from that Sherman from way back: Of the people, by the people, for the people. And up the people’s.