Grim Fairy Tales and Hard Times

Sitting comfortably for this tale of tales and tale of lies?

In this land and some far, far away The King has long been naked. While the tailors of the City spin their fabric of lies all are mesmerised by their charms. So skillful of  tongue their silken words have captured the keys to the citadels. In these days the herald plays only their tune while the minstrel mocks the boy who blows his discordant whistle. The wicked witch’s spell begun so long ago is nearly complete.

Skillful silken words… words to tangle the truth, to turn common man against common man and woman. To deflect and turn and turn until in a dervish confusion we accept the tale. And tales they are, as tall as edifices they construct to their own glory.

However hard our times are they are of our making for if I was to continue packing metaphor on metaphor most would spot the allusion.

We know the lies and we know the liars so how come we accept their grim fairy tales and accept the hard times. Hard times that will not go away. How can they? For those who created the problem, the bankers have not been made to change their ways and the debts their failure created will never be paid for by piling hardships upon the poor. The poor didn’t create the deficit and neither did they run up a debt that equals the entire global GDP many times over. We all bailed out the banks and we were promised a new start.

In the days and months following the crash we expected a new accountability and regulation of the banking system. Unimaginable amounts of tax payers money was poured into the banking system to help sustain it while a solution to the crisis could be mounted. At the expense of the real economy and our social programs money was diverted to save the banking sector. This liquidity designed to keep the system and the economy afloat was instead hoarded by the banks as insurance against a future crash. And it seems it could happen again as the London house price bubble would indicate that little has changed.

That opportunity for change it seems has passed. In the years before the crash the City insisted on light touch regulation and governments obliged. The whip was in the claw of the Golden Goose and the City’s importance to the UK economy was its shiny golden egg nesting at the centre of the European money markets. When the egg went rotten our governments should/could have acted. At that moment there was a perfect moment for democratically elected leaders to act, to take back the power and to regulate the banks. Instead they dithered and in a perverse turn around our governments now have had to come to heal. Our governments borrow money on the Bond Markets, IOU’s to the banks to fund day to day business and short falls in income. If the bankers don’t like a country’s policies they hike up the interest rates increasing government costs and the need for more austerity. No one likes the Greek shoes so policies are designed to please the markets.

The Robbin Hood tax, the breaking up of banks, tighter regulation, none of it can happen because the puppets in government have to perpetuate the fairy story, that the banking sector is good for us. Yet how can public sector workers, the sick and the poor be scapegoated for a banking failure of such a magnitude while the true villains of the piece go unchallenged?  I watch with despair as the spinners spin their lies with a growing confidence. Plain untruths are delivered unchallenged by the peddlers of the latest facts or news. Statistics that support the petty prejudices that turn citizen against citizen are bandied about with little or no basis in fact. Propaganda that would have passed muster in Joesph Goebbels ministry seems to enthrall the mainstream media in its willingness to toe the line.

What saddens me most is the evidence that the fairy story is taking root, the small minded campaigns that declare ‘I’m Proud to be British’ with their racist message hardly veiled or the way the skiver versus striver story plays out in the Internet comment threads or in the tabloids. We’re not in this mess because of immigrants, benefit claimants or the welfare state. Instead we live in a time when the greatest transfer of wealth is being carried out under our noses. There is no austerity for those who created the crash instead they get wealthier while we argue whether those with a spare bed should be penalised.

What can we do? Well, we must where ever we can have the discussions about the real reasons for austerity. We also have a stake in the banking sector through our ownership of RBS and a big chunk of LLoyds TSB. We don’t have to ask these banks to behave, we can tell them what we want them to do. Our banking system is flawed but we could have an alternative on the high street. The Royal Bank of Scotland could be transformed into a national network of banks that have to focus on their local needs and the needs of it’s owners, you and me. Let’s stop the government just selling it off at a knock down price to their mates. It’s ours, we paid for it and that’s the end of the story.

Ken Finn

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