Henry VIII looted monasteries because he wanted their wealth for his aspirations by the 17th century Britain was impoverished once more causing civil wars.1 Between 1700 and 1900 British vast wealth came from exploiting the Empire. This was spent between 1914-8 and 1939-45 on two world wars. In the 1980s Britain’s wealth came from North Sea oil. Margaret Thatcher squandered this on war and defence spending.2,3 She followed this by selling national industrial assets, which were sold in, ‘Everything Must Go,’ sales.
Thatcher’s self-serving reason was ‘efficiency’. She included social housing in her off-loading of public assets. This turbo-charged the housing crisis of the 2000s. Her economic policies ended in 2013 with the Royal Mail privatisation.4
George Osborne’s fig-leaf was Austerity. By out-sourcing tax increases to local government he maintained the illusion that Conservatives are a Low Taxation party. The current (2023-4) Council tax permissions illustrate this graphically. Havering can increase tax by 3%, for local purposes. This can be increased by two percentage points to help pay for social care.5 Social care is a mandatory, demand-led service and very expensive.
Osborne, and successive Conservative Chancellors, out-sourced tax increases to local government to dodge bad publicity. However, the golden goose will die when well-run councils, like Havering, are bankrupted.6
Beginning with Henry VIII, Britain has had successive governments believing sound financial management is optional. Boris Johnson’s economic policy was, ‘Having my cake and eating it.’ All very amusing when a child says it but when a prime minister acts on that premise? Britain’s economically illiterate governments continue to impoverish the nation.
1 a) a parliamentary civil war 1629-40, b) three civil wars 1641-49, c) regime change 1649-60, d) another regime change, 1660-88, e) invasion/civil war 1688, f) yet another regime change 1688-1714. The 17th century was very unstable.
4 Ironically the Royal Mail was established by the Tudors in 1516.
5 This a 67% increase on the basic, government approved council tax figure. 67%!
6 The UK councils facing potential ‘bankruptcy’ as coronavirus pandemic takes huge toll on public finances | National (inyourarea.co.uk) and also Local authority financial sustainability and the section 114 regime – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)