National debt lower than in other countries

SIR - It was interesting to read Philip Milton trot out the usual band of tired Tory clich�s in his letter last week, and mystifying to see that he believes the 13 years of Labour government was ?socialist?, when rising inequality and indulgence of the rich says otherwise.

Mr Milton claims that the country was ?living beyond its means? and that this is the reason behind the current level of national debt, and the budget deficit.

This is untrue. The national debt (which is by historical standards not particularly high, and far lower than many other countries including France, Germany, the US and Japan) increased over the last few years due to the massive bailout of the banks, which was necessary because the whole economic system was, and still is, built on speculatory bubbles.

The budget deficit is as a result of reduced tax revenues, mainly because of the recession, but also because the previous government sacked thousands of tax inspectors. The coalition plans to further this ridiculous policy, despite the fact that �120 billion a year of tax that is owed is evaded, avoided or uncollected.

As for the idea that if tax rates on the rich were increased to fund public services, they would scarper abroad, I would put it to Mr Milton that the fact that people will break the letter or spirit of a law is not necessarily a good reason to water it down. I wonder if, as a defender of our current system of locking up people for the possession of drugs, Mr Milton will extend his flexible approach to recreational drug users?

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The fact is that the rich in this country have, over the past decades got richer and richer, while most people have become relatively worse off. And now the ConDem government expects the low paid, those on benefits, those who work in public services and those who use public services to take the punishment, while massive bonuses and salaries still abound in the City? We are not all in this together, big business and the wealthy are trying to get away with the biggest robbery in history, and we must unite to stop them.

I don?t think I am alone in wanting a society where public services are run for people, not for private profit, that work pays not just a minimum wage but a living wage, that people who have fallen on hard times are treated with humanity and dignity, and everyone has affordable, quality housing. I?m sorry that Mr Milton and his Tory friends do not want that, but I am not surprised. The real shame is that many people thought Nick Harvey and the Lib Dems did want that, but in power they have shown themselves to be just yellow Tories.

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Jim Lowe

Secretary, North Devon Socialist Party


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