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'Insult to Our Young People's Future': UK Budget Neglects Climate Crisis

Philip Hammond presents the red Budget Box as he departs from 11 Downing Streets to make his way to the Parliament to deliver his 2018 budget announcement, London on Oct. 29, Alberto Pezzali / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

While British Prime Minister Theresa May's Autumn budget rollout was accompanied by much fanfare and lofty promises—"the era of austerity is finally coming to an end," proclaimed UK Finance Minister Philip Hammond—the specifics of the budget detailed on Monday were met with a mixture of disgust and alarm by the Labour Party and environmentalists, who argued that the plan is stuffed with "half measures" and tax cuts for the rich but zero policies to address the human-caused climate crisis.


Highlighting May's recent speech declaring that deep cuts to public spending are over, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn excoriated May and Hammond for delivering a "broken promise budget" that vows "quick fixes while austerity grinds on."

"Far from people's hard work and sacrifices having paid of ... this government has frittered it away in ideological tax cuts to the richest in our society," Corbyn said. "The government claims austerity has worked so now they can end it. That is absolutely the opposite of the truth—austerity needs to end because it has failed."

Just ahead of May's big budget unveil, the Labour Party tweeted out a video that portrays May and her cabinet as cruel plutocrats and condemns their record of slashing life-saving programs for vulnerable in order to deliver massive gifts to the ultra-wealthy.

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Though May's Autumn budget does call for some increases in social spending, critics said these boosts will not be nearly enough to recover from years of Tory austerity.

While touting the budget's proposed increase in education spending, Hammond boasted that schools will now be able to afford "the little extras they need"—a remark that was quickly denounced as an insult to British schools that are facing massive teacher shortages and cutting hours due to lack of funds.

"Cannot believe how out of touch this government is," Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the UK Green Party, wrote on Twitter. "Schools don't just need money for 'little extras'—they are struggling to pay staff, upkeep buildings, and provide vital support to children with special needs."

The grassroots left-wing group Momentum added that, in May's budget, "schools are getting less money than the pot hole fund."

"We have oversized classes, lack of basic stationery, and a cap on teachers' pay," the group wrote on Twitter. "Your budget is an insult to our young people's future."

May's budget was similarly denounced by environmentalists as an appalling insult to the planet, given that—in his speech detailing the Autumn budget—Hammond didn't bother to mention the climate crisis once.

Hammond did, however, announce that the budget will maintain special tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.

"Three weeks since the world's leading climate scientists said governments have just 12 years to turn the tide on the catastrophic and irreversible consequences of climate change, the chancellor has delivered a budget that reads as though he missed the memo," Greenpeace UK declared on Twitter, referencing a recent United Nations report warning that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avert global catastrophe.

"It's unforgivable that Hammond failed to even mention climate change," concluded Lucas of the Green Party. "It's not clear what planet Hammond is living on—because he's certainly doing nothing to protect those of us living on this one. His deluded budget was built on a fantasy future where the technical revolution will solve all of society's problems. Our children will never forgive him."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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