Dave and George. Definitely strivers.

Let me introduce Dave and George.

George is a striver, and so is Dave. George, for example, strove so hard that before he was even born he’d managed to move into the womb of a woman who was married to a multi-millionaire aristocrat.

And Dave had, by the sweat of his brow, managed to issue from the loins of a multi-millionaire tax-avoiding stockbroker.

George Osborne evil
George Osborne being nothing like a Dickensian villain.

They have worked for everything they’ve got. None of it has been handed to them on a plate. They are not scroungers.

After the hard work they put into being born to wealthy people, Dave and George both struggled to save enough money to go to Eton and St Paul’s. They managed to do this because, in their own parlance, they are strivers. Even at the age of 13 they were earning enough to pay the minimum £30,000 per annum attendance fee. It wasn’t their dads who paid, because Dave and George are strivers.

Not scroungers.

It wasn’t all easy for Dave. He had to battle to stay away from the bad influence of all those wealthy children in tiny class sizes, but he succeeded in concentrating on working hard and not idling his days away smoking pot (except for that time he was almost expelled for smoking pot).

He’s a striver.

David Cameron
David Cameron is not a privileged buffoon.

After Eton, Dave and George moved to Oxford University, which is so egalitarian that almost 2% of its intake for the last 50 years has come from people whose parents are in the lowest 50% of earners. Dave, although the child of a multi-millionaire, was deemed so poor that he had to have his university education paid for by all the rest of us, just like he wants you and your children to never ever have. He even got a special grant, called an “Exhibition”, which thankfully put another few quid into his massively deep pocket.

But he’s still definitely not a scrounger.

While at Oxford they avoided idle and disreputable behaviour like drinking heavily and smashing up restaurants (except for the that time they joined a club that’s famous for drinking heavily and smashing up restaurants).

And after university, they both worked exceptionally hard. George, for example, has had three jobs. Not at the same time, of course. Not like most of the poorest working families have to. No, he had one job at a time, so he could really focus on it. His first job was as a part-time data-entry clerk at an NHS office, responsible for entering the names of dead people into a computer. His second job was folding towels at Selfridge’s store.

His third job was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Which he richly deserves, because he’s a striver.

Dave, by contrast, went out into the world to make his own way. He did this by getting his dad to give him his first three jobs, and then getting a position as a parliamentary aide to his godfather, who was an MP. This proves that Dave has had nothing handed to him on a plate, and is a hard-working striver.

As soon as they were MPs they got their heads down to the serious business of helping their fellow man, interrupted only occasionally by the need to claim expenses of £21,000 per annum for Dave’s mortgage and around £100,000 over 10 years to fund the paddock – you know, for the horses – at George’s Cheshire home.

And today they continue to work hard in your interests, by cutting the tax paid by them and their friends and neighbours and then cutting the income for people who are too idle or sick or cancerous to be born in Chipping Norton.

And for that I say: Thank God. Thank God we are led by strivers, and not scroungers.


31 thoughts on “Dave and George. Definitely strivers.

  1. Great post, but you should know that an Exhibition grant is not based on income, not paid by the tax payer, and does not amount to paying off all further education fees. It’s awarded according to performance in exams, it’s paid by the college you attend, and I can’t swear to what it was for David Cameron, but my Exhibition (from Jesus College) amounts to about £300 a year and one free meal a week.

    1. I didn’t know the value, but I knew it wasn’t based on student poverty. But it didn’t need to be – university education was free back then.

  2. Oh fair enough I stand corrected :). On the first read through I assumed you meant his education was all paid for by the exhibition. Which filled me with wrongteous indignation because I really WISH an exhibition would pay for my education.

  3. “I’m into intelligence, sophistication and jokes about willies. ”

    So you are into intelligence but you don’t know the difference between ‘aid’ and ‘aide’?

    1. I do, I just got distracted by a joke about a willy. Can I be bothered to fix it now? No, not really. I’ll just assume that somehow you managed to work out the gist of my meaning.

  4. Maybe their great grandparents were immigrants who, materially, had less than any of todays disadvantaged but strove harder. Maybe they, quite reasonably, wanted their offspring to have it easier than they did. Maybe Dave n George want to encourage said striving and make it more widespread. And maybe the background of those putting forward ideas and policies is unimportant.

    1. The background IS important, because it’s hypocritical of people who got free education, healthcare, welfare, apprenticeships, jobs for life and all the benefits of a socialised society to deny those to other people. And it’s just a lie to claim that they’re strivers and people who DON’T achieve are therefore scroungers. Cameron and Osborne were given HUGE opportunities and benefits.

      Capitalism rewards winners, but to have winners you must, logically, have losers. No amount of “incentives to work” can avoid that – you simply make it more miserable. The best way to mitigate against losers is to redistribute from the winners – that way nobody gets left too far behind.

      I would also argue that it’s economically idiotic to reduce benefots. It won’t cause jobs to be created, it will just suck money out of the real economy. Even the World Bank now argues that austerity is harming economies (including UK).

      The truth is, the poor spend their money, the rich save it because they don’t need it as much. But only the MOVEMENT of capital can make the economy grow. Saving doesn’t cause growth, spending does. So removing money from people who spend 100% their income is crazy. You’re taking money out of the economy at a time when you should be putting more in.

      A windfall tax on private corporations who have (for example) increased profits since 2008 and have held over £10 million during that period – that would make sense and be fair, because those people have made money from the recession, and are therefore likely to be extending it. And their profits are dead money, investing in nothing and achieving nothing. There are £billions locked up like that. Tax it at 10%, and give the money to the poorest 10% of people – who will spend it almost immediately, because many of them are desperate and have debts. So the money is instantly injected into the economy, leading to growth, and ensuring and the donor companies will get it back within 3 years.

      Yes, it’s classic Keynsian economics. But it’s classic because it works. The EMF did a study of austerity measures since 1980 (176 instances of it). In every case, austerity caused deeper financial and monetary problems and extended recession. Whereas in every case of the Keynsian, the recession ended and growth returned. It’s only being prevented by gruesome mixture of idealism and dogma.

      I’m a lefty, and make no apologies about it. But I’m also primarily a rationalist, and regardless of politics, this stuff is basic economics. Right wingers accept that too, unless they’re wedded to neocapitalist lunacy.

      Well, you asked! 🙂

  5. I’m not sure if George (really Gideon) went to Eton. I think it was an inner city (fee paying) school – paid for by his daddy of course 😀

    1. Gideon is his second name. And you’re right, it wasn’t Eton, but that’s not really the point: he didn’t have to strive, he had a huge helping hand from wealthy parents AND lots of subsidised assistance from the state. Then went on to claim £100,000 state benefit for his horses. How dare he accuse others of being scroungers?!

  6. This is a world shatteringly magnificent article.
    All those pick-faulty-little-fault-pickers can go suck it.
    You rock.

  7. I understand they have had a better start in life, but this doesn’t mean they cannot try and rein in the benefits bill. It is out of control and needs sorting out. Unfortunatley this is not a problem the current gov has created, but successive governments over the last 30 yrs. It is all down to globalisation and this is the route of our problems.

    Dont agree about saving less – we need to save more and not waste money on crap. Saying the poor spend their money so we must keep giving them more for doing nothing is a terrible argument.

    Society needs a TOTAL restructure and this will now happen slowly because if we did it quickly we would all have a heart attack.

    1. It’s not easy to have big complex conversations about big complex issues in a jokey blog, or in the comments. So bearing in mind EVERYTHING said here, by me and you, is (perforce) simplistic, here’s my response…

      The benefits bill has (mainly) increased because of 4 things

      1 An aging population meaning higher pensions for longer periods
      2 The banking crisis costing governments £billions to bail out, and then reducing tax revenues
      3 Low wages requiring subsidy by governments
      4 Unemployment caused by the recession

      We can’t tackle problem 1 unless we agree to kill old people. We can’t tackle 2 unless we agree to let banks go bust, in which case millions of mortgages will be worthless and everyone will lose their homes. We can’t tackle 3 unless we introduce a proper minimum wage/living wage policy, which this govt won’t do because it flies in the face of their “free market” ethos. So the only remaining option for this govt is to attack point 4. But unemployment benefits are only 8% of the benefits bill, the rest is mainly pensions and disability. And cutting benefits for the disabled will NOT make them better – just poorer. That’s not a “problem” that can be “solved” by economics.

      Regardless of what you may have read in honest and august organs like The Daily Mail, the last government did NOT cause this recession by over-spending. The banks did by over-gambling. We seem to have forgotten that. We seem to have forgotten that Brown (whilst an otherwise terrible PM, even for a Labour voter like me) took action to prevent total economic collapse caused by private banks. The Cons had pushed for LESS regulation, so they can’t blame Brown for a regulatory framework that allowed banks to screw it all up (although they DO blame him, but that’s politics, not economic).

      I do find it horrific that instead of addressing the problems caused at the top-end (setting wages too low to be affordable, rack-rents on tennants, lack of investment, tax avoidance, asset stripping), the govt is blaming it all on the poorest people in society: apparently, they’re just not poor enough, and that’s why Barclays bet $12 trillion they didn’t have. That seems to be the argument!

      If we want to reduce the benefits bill, a good way to do it is to get people off benefits and into jobs – but that means creating jobs. You can’t do it by cutting benefits, you do it be encouraging investment. Why would a company invest? Because it thinks it’ll get money back. So it needs a good economy into which it is willing to invest. We’re in a vicious cycle, because the ONLY institution big enough to start the economy (and therefore encourage more private investment) is govt. It’s called Keynsian Economics, and it worked for the last great depression. Govt can currently borrow 20 year bonds at 0% interest – free! So it should borrow £50 billion and throw it into the economy, boosting green jobs, housing, and all the things the country lacks. When people have money to spend, private industry will start working again. And then benefits will fall because there will be jobs. And tax revenues will fall because people and business will be making enough money to pay tax. And overall the benefits bill will fall, and the govt can build towards a surplus.

      When the economy is growing again, govt can (over 20 years) repay the investment loan of £50 billion, at zero cost to the economy – because it’s interest free!

      But (say conservatives) we’re already in debt, why borrow more? Hence my point about a windfall tax on the MANY corporations who have made large profits during (or directly caused by) the recession, and aren’t spending their money. There is almost £1 trillion if unusued money in the banks of the top 10% of UK companies, and it’s been there for 5 years. Tax that at 10%, and you’ve got a huge Keynsian boost. When the economy grows again, those private companies will do better, and will get their money back. Especially if the money is mostly given to the lowest 25% of earners, who are likely to spend it immediately. (As a side-issue, the majority of benefits for the last 20 years have gone to the top 10% of earners. Unemployment benefits were 21% of average wages in 1980, now they’re 11%, so it’s not true to claim benefits outstrip wages).

      I’d also:

      1: Enforce a LIVING wage, not a minimum wage. In London the living wage should be about £9 per hour (1/3 more than the minimim wage)
      2: Introduce rent control, because a lot of house price inflation is caused by people using buy-to-let mortgages, but that just removes housing stock and drives up prices. 40% of people under 40 will NEVER be able to afford a home. Rent control at least means they can rent, and also works to control overall housing costs. It works in NYC, why not here?
      3: Close tax loopholes and boost HMRC, which has had a 40% staff cut at a time the govt claims it’s serious about tax avoidance. We can’t track tax avoiders if you’re cutting the detectives!
      4: Introduce a Robin Hood tax, which this govt faught against in Europe. It charge 0.05% on all casino bank transactions. But 90% of stock trades take under 7 seconsds – the gap between buying and selling is that fast. It’s computerised, and simply adds a % to the cost of products so the bank can syphon off money. This includes food staples, which have gone up by 50% in 5 years (in some cases). Taxing those transactions would make them unprofitable, so food prices would tumble, reducing pressure on the “real” economy. Yes, it would slash bank prifits. Boo hoo! But it would reduce food costs, which would safely deflate the UK economy, create more disposable income, and make it possible for people around the world to eat (rice, a staple across the world, is now unaffordable in 20% of homes worldwide).

      It’s easy to follow the “let’s cut benefits for all those idlers” argument. But it’s simplistic. It’s as idiotic as the idea that killing bin Laden would stop terrorism – the causes are much deeper than just one bloke. Sure, if there’s a genuine fraudster who refuses to work, find tools to tackle that. But the govts own figures say that’s 0.7% of claims. And the arguments used are besmirching millions of honest, but jobless people.

      Cameron can’t help being born rich, any more than I can help being born working class. But I struggled to get educated and informed – it’s not good enough for him to remain ignorant of the bottom 50% of people he claims to work for. And it’s definitely not good enough for him to attack the poorest, who gained NOTHING from booms, and are suffering hardest in the bust.

      1. I am sorry but i haven’t the time to get into a big discussion about the problems we face. All i can do is provide you with some links to some good reads.

        Guy Sands is an economist who has written the “precariat” book. Worth a read.


        Globalisation is the main problem and it has gone too far. The top in society ride (of every nation, not just UK) their own and other countries populations for their own benefit. The rewards of globalisation are not being shared out equally between the populations, so we need to put in place some controls. Guy sands says we should ALL be paid a living allowance as our jobs have flown else where in the planet. This means if a person doesnt want to work (because there isnt any real work about) then he can stay in bed and have a minimum level of living (this happens already if you don’t know, but is being attacked because the global system has had a break down). The banking crisis is again part of globalisation going all wrong (USA sells shit financial products to the world because it is intricatly linked up nowadays).

        Also read this blog. Very good read and explains a lot: http://cynicuseconomicus.blogspot.co.uk

        Making radical changes to our economy (and the West as a whole) will happen, but only when things get very bad. The 4th wave is a great book to read and talks about how history repeats itself. We are currently in the “crisis” period of their historial analysis and this will last for approx 20yrs. They predicted in 1998 it would start in 2004 (i think), but it probably started in 2006/7. A crisis always ends with a major war. So we are looking at a major war coming along in 2026 approx. Leading up to that is going to be currency crisis’s, taxation theft etc, massive job upheaval.

        I have to say i really get upset when people still see our UK problems in terms of conservative v’s labour. This is completley irrelevant to the argument and has been since the 1980’s when globalisation was unleashed.

        Globalisation aint going away, but we need to control it a lot better.

        I would start by taking control of our own destiny again and pull completley out of Europe. We need to refocus on trading with Asia and we can do it. We then cut red tape like never before and unleash business to do its thing. Stop the immigration bringing down labour costs as we dont need any more people in this tiny country. Then invest in education to really skill up the population. Education has declined in the last 20- 30 yrs if you hadn’t noticed (link with globalisation ?). By bringing power back to the Parliament you will also reinvigorate local politics and general interest in this area. Power will be back in the UK’s hands and politicians wil not have eyes on highly paid Euro political jobs.

        Just my ramblings and i am not an oldie, but same age as you. I am not racist, sexist, homophobic etc etc. I have lots of views on why we are in the shit, but i am not that good at writing so dont usually write. I do wish we (as a population) were more interested in how we are taxed, are education system, and everything else rather than the latest celeb gossip.

      2. I agree. See George Monbiot in today’s Guardian, very similar take on things.

        And add to the globalisation issue/threat the fact we can no longer continue to grow – we’re vastly overpopulated and running low on key resources.

      3. Yes, very good piece in the guadian. He touches on the destructive process referred to in the 4th Wave book and how it creates a much better life for the general population.

        Totally agree neocon economics is a dead end. We need a much better way of doing stuff. Localise, bring power back to each regional area (countrywide and county), focus on education, take more from the big earners (international agreements needed here), rescale the entitlements to be much more intune with with their origional ideals but this can only happen at the same time as real work is created in the local economy. We cannot have fit young women and men pretending to have depression so they can watch Tv all day. I see this type of thing a lot and we have far too many people playing the system. Yes the system is there to cater for the needy (which it does and i see this as well), but it also brings in a lot of the scam artists. It is tightening up, but the system is abused. The NHS needs to be sorted out as well. Everyone i know who works there says there is a problem with waste, but no one can change the system. More money does not solve the issue. Privatising will just move the money into the riches hands again. Why not mutualise the whole NHS and make all employees stake holders.

        This is a big area of expenditure in the UK which needs to be looked at.

  8. A brilliant post – Followed!

    I’m only just starting to open my eyes and ears to the divisive hateful speech that is spouted by certain elements of our media. Its absolutely shameful that this is being endorsed by our government

    Your post will be shared and recommended.

    I’m starting to blog at http://www.quackecho.wordpress.com and would appreciate your comments

    1. Couldn’t agree more. If only more people read intelligent debate and statistics, rather than warped propaganda from the Mail and Express.

    1. Not sure.

      The Jarrow March was in 1936.

      The Marrow March is less of a march, and more of a bent-double scamper to the bathroom an hour after eating too many huge cucumbers.

      But I have no plans for a Yarrow March. Feel free to start without me!

  9. Brilliant. It’s nobody’s fault what their born with, whether it’s privilege or poverty, it’s a shame the government don’t seem to acknowledge this x

  10. Don’t forget that the Shadown Cabinet is not exactly filled with horny-handed sons of toil- Miliband, Balls, Cooper, Benn (when Tony gave up the title, he kept the land), Thornberry, Harman, Byrne are all reputed to be millionaires. Property in this country might be a tiny bit cheaper if Michael Meacher did not own nine. Head of communications Tom Baldwin led a very deprived childhood growing up in Sissinghurst Castle. Harriet Harman was educated at St Paul’s School for Girls. Are you proposing automatic disenfranchisement and bar from public office for those born into, or now in possession of, a particular level of wealth? Granted, espousing one thing and doing another might well be deemed rank hypocrisy if you are a politician (let’s not forget Diane Abbott’s decision in 2003 to send her son to City of London Boys), but are you arguing these people should be banished from politics?

    1. No, of course I’m not proposing that. And I’m not denying Labour – like most of the “establishment” – is packed with privately educated Oxbridge graduates living in expensive London townhouses a capable of making a mint in the City.

      But Labour aren’t making political capital out of other people being scroungers and getting hand-outs. It’s not the background that galls me, it’s the hypocrisy.

  11. You are wrong to equate transfer of accumulated wealth within a family from one person to another (I wish!) with the transfer from state to a given individual. Both can be entirely noble or utterly unacceptable (Paris Hilton, take a bow), but my giving my sons a tenner is not the same as the state giving them child benefit. I passionately believe in the welfare model envisioned by Beveridge, which has sadly been corrupted by successive governments over the years since its inception to the extent that its current failure to adhere to those founding principles has resulted in the demonisation of the welfare state as a whole. To suggest everyone on benefits is unworthy is disgraceful, but no more than to say the current system is perfectly distributing funds with perfect accuracy. Fix the system and fix the perception of those rightfully supported by it. Hardly the utterings of a fascist bootboy, is it?

    Nice blog, by the way. I disagree almost entirely with it, but you write very nicely;)

    1. I’m not saying the current system is perfect. I’m not saying it’s the Beverage model. I’m not saying I think Labour has everything right, or that Conservatives have everything wrong.

      For the record, I’m a business owner. I don’t believe Communism works. I don’t believe unfettered neoliberal capitalism does either, and for the same reason: both economic models are imposed upon very different economic activities without any reference to how those activities best operate, or the collateral damage. Capitalism without responsibility is great for the company that can cut wages for 10,000 people, but terrible for those 10,000 people. And terrible for the country too, which has to pay for their benefits because the market is irresponsible. Those people aren’t going to vanish, and no alternative jobs exist. A state has to do something. For the last few years, the state has just filled in the gaps by throwing money at it, but it can’t go on. And that means breaking the neoliberal model, and imposing responsibilities on companies, rather than assuming the state does it all. Responsibility for wages, training, etc. Yes, it risks competitiveness, but the alternative is massive social spending and debts. And higher taxes to cover those expenses, which also reduces competitiveness.

      But clearly we can’t keep on throwing money at the problem. There’s a phrase which goes something like: rather than keep pulling bodies out of the river, at some stage you have to go upstream to find out why they’re falling in. I’d argue Milliband is currently in that process. It’s a voyage of discovery, and not perfect, but I applaud his attempts to find answers and challenge the shibboleths of standard, idiotic, one-size-fits-all neocon conventions.

      The main reason private businesses seem more efficient than public organisations is that inefficient businesses can die, and the world will keep on turning. If they’re unprofitable, they fail. In a functioning market economy, competition brings continuous improvements. Only an idiot would argue with that.

      But a utility, without which the nation cannot function, cannot be allowed to fail. So introducing “fail or die” economics to utilities is pointless, because if they fail, the state has to step in and bail them out. In the last 10 years this has happened via huge subsidies (by grants, tax or gifts) of rail, electricity, gas, nuclear, education, housing, health, and most obviously banks. These are structurally vital utilities, and when we privatise them all we do is privatise their profit centres. Losses are underwritten by the state.

      This is why the leaders of those banking, power, health and transport cartels – which is what they are – can be gleefully wasteful, inefficient and greedy without any consequence. They cannot be allowed to fail, and anybody with an ounce of sense can see it. It’s an utter failure of neoliberalism, but for ideological reasons few neocon politicians (Tories, Lib Dems, most of New Labour, some of current Labour) will argue against privatising them. They just keep throwing money at the problem. They keep bailing out private companies which should be public utilities. They keep funding low wages through the benefits bill, and hiding the costs in debts or taxation. They keep ignoring the fact that bodies are falling in upstream.

      I don’t think it’s Communist to say that it’s bad for companies to underpay their staff. Just as I don’t think it’s Fascist to say the corner shop should be allowed to make a profit. Let’s have a little moderation, because I think there’s a dangerous tendency to use extremification – taking any opinion/policy to its most extreme lengths, and then using that extreme to demolish the argument. Both sides of the political divide are very much guilty of it. An example might be: “I believe in redistributive taxation” which is then assumed to mean absolute Stalinist communism, complete with death marches and purges of opponents. That’s why the Daily Mail, our prime purveyor of extremification, likes to label Milliband a Communist. Extremification makes everybody sound like a liar.

      I like to be more moderate and thoughtful than that, or at least try. And if I fail, well, there’s a market in ideas, and you can always find another one 🙂

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