Mulling over Nick Clegg’s comments yesterday, where he addressed the need to move beyond any conception of the deficit being the “be all and end all”, I couldn’t help think how hypocritical this was. The current government has made the deficit their raison d’être – they consistently preach about how awful our situation is, how we are going to go into some kind of Greece recession if we don’t cut, cut, cut (see here for a very good outline of why this is factually incorrect).
Furthermore, these comments were within the context of a speech around social mobility. How Clegg doesn’t think that social mobility is directly related to the current economic policies and the government’s focus upon the deficit, is rather beyond me. Especially considering the way in which the government is undertaking its economic policies – they are rather devoid of any real consideration of the many lives they are ruining.
This inability to really conceive how interrelated the economy is with other areas is very true of the government’s poor environmental record. Instead of seeing the economic crisis as a way to mobilise a different orientation towards the environment, and to shape the economic practices to environmentally more sustainable ones, instead some use the crisis to justify their ‘ungreeness’, as apparently it would undermine business.
Even if this government wasn’t making the deficit the “be all and end all”, especially in terms of social mobility – the economy and money really does make a difference. In capitalist systems, money and wealth is largely what determines success, it is widely known that those from better off families are the ones who are most likely to succeed. So when the deficit starts to hit core services like the future jobs fund and career and other related youth services, this really undermines the existing help that is in place to try to deal with the problems we have with social mobility in society.
There is also the need to reform the tax system, reward work more, improve education for everyone – instead of promoting elitist practices such as this free schools policy that will only reinforce social divisions.
So Clegg can talk all he wants about the need to move on from seeing the deficit as the “be all and end all”, but he can’t escape the fact that this government is making it exactly this. He can’t escape the fact that social mobility and many other areas of policy and development are linked to the economy, and that the current economic policies are doing very little to improve any of these areas for the many.