21st April 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

REVIEW: Toynbee and Walker on ‘Dismembered’

Polly Toynbee and David Walker talk to the Mareel audience about their new book.

“A genuinely important book… something we all really need to read.”

Screenwriter Chris Dolan’s thoughts on Dismembered: How the attack on the state harms us all certainly made for a succinct introduction.

Dismembered comes from veteran journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker, who have collaborated on several books of British politics.

Discussing the book in front of an audience of all ages, Ms Toynbee and Mr Walker put forward a harrowing story of the systematic dismantling of British society by an ideologically-
driven and morally-bankrupt Conservative party.

Ms Toynbee and Mr Walker advised that the book does not cover Scotland strongly, let alone Shetland, but noted that some of the issues and questions they are trying to address go beyond any one area, issue, or party.

Much of the book was drawn from visiting and talking to public service workers on the frontline of austere cuts, victims of a government bent on reducing the machinery of the state to its smallest possible form.

Some of the stories they came across would be funny if they weren’t so depressing, such as how dozens of trainee tax officers from Newcastle were bussed to Heathrow to pretend to be busy Border Force agents on the day of the Home Secretary’s visit.

Despite painting a picture of a once-strong liberal society on its knees, both Ms Toynbee and Mr Walker felt that the message was overall quite hopeful and optimistic, with public opinion shifting towards a more caring society, at odds with the government’s vision.

The book is, if anything, a call to arms against the deliberate cruelty of the government, and an ideology that has grown in the Conservative party for decades, now coming to bloom and
bearing toxic fruit.

Ms Toynbee said that she realised the audience were probably there because they agreed largely with the book and its authors. “If you buy the book, will you pass it to someone who won’t agree,” she said.

The rabble that formed at the book stall outside would suggest that many took this to heart.

By Alex Garrick-Wright

9 comments

  1. David Spence

    I believe, although some people may say differently, this whole saga and chaos of Brex*hit and the EU Ref. is nothing but a distraction from the real agenda the Tories are executing.

    This is to have a trade deal with the USA without the interference of the EU.

    This will start the foundations for the complete privatisation of most government responsibilities and duties of care. It will also mean that the Tory Party itself will benefit immensely from this as share-holders of the US companies taking over. It is as plain and simple as that.

    This is beginning to start with the NHS, and how private companies are going to provide private GP Services replacing the NHS GP, and charging £70.00 for a 15 minute consultation. The NHS has been forced to transfer patient records to the private company if NHS Clinical Centre’s cannot cope with patient demand. However, this service is costing the NHS thousands and thousands due to government legislation putting private enterprise ahead of NHS services and care.

    It is the breakdown of the NHS piece by piece by this government. They, the government, will benefit immensely, as mentioned, with the privatisation of the NHS.

    Reply
  2. Johan Adamson

    Polly Toynbee and David Walker also spoke to a Labour meeting on Saturday am (gatecrashed by a high-profile SNP member who made some important points re the BBC). Many thanks for speaking, it was a very informative and interesting meeting and discussion.

    Reply
  3. John Tulloch

    Ms Toynbee’s book timing is impeccable – spot on to capitalise on the surge in left wing fortunes associated with Jeremy Corbyn’s phoenix-like rise from the ancient ashes of ‘Old Labour’.

    Where and how the government of the day chooses to spend public money will always be furiously debatable however, the fact is we haven’t had any “austerity”.

    What we have had is 9 years of extreme Keynsian fiscal and monetary stimulus, powered by record government borrowing, record low interest rates and de facto money printing (QE).

    This was a textbook response to the crash of 2008/9, instigated by Labour and continued by subsequent Tory/Liberal administrations. Wages have suffered badly as a result of the crash itself and the need to contain soaring national debt however the outcome is a relatively stable economy with high employment.

    Alas, the fiscal and monetary stimulus can’t go on forever.

    Yes, specific spending cuts are debatable however we should ‘beware of siren voices’, singing songs of plenty – because we and our descendents will have to pay.

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      John, government expenditure has increased under the Tories? Explain

      We should have been building more houses etc to both stimulate the economy and improve folks living standards, especially for the young. Im not a big Blair fan but one thing they did do was stimulate the economy, albeit they got a bit carried away in the end leading up to the crash of 2008/9.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Johan, I didn’t say government spending has increased under the Tories.

        Labour (Brown/Darling) rightly opened the gushers after the 2008/9 crash – their £100 billion deficit dwarfed anything that has, probably, ever gone before. It had to be reduced over time and we are talking about 15 years (!) to rebalance the budget from 2008/9.

        Labour also planned to reduce the deficit had they been re-elected.

        Nine years on, the deficit is still massive compared to anything that occurred before and national debt is extremely high (89% of GDP) – I think only past wars made it higher than now.
        https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/government-debt-to-gdp

        There’s plenty to complain about however, if you’re talking about “austerity”, look at Greece, Italy and Spain.

        We paid ourselves too much while imagining we had more money than we did. We built a ‘castle in the air’ with no foundations. It collapsed and we’re paying for it now.

    • Johan Adamson

      One thing they should have done (Blair) is raise the personal allowance, which the Tories have now done, giving each person a higher nil tax band.

      Reply
  4. Brian Smith

    Tulloch is a Tartan Tory.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      🙂 Then I assume you , Jonathan and I are in agreement, Brian?

      Reply
  5. David Spence

    I, and I suspect many other people, thought the whole issue of the Tories doing ‘ austerity cuts ‘ was to reduce the national debt? If this is the case, why has this government borrowed more money than any previous government in history, and why has the national debt increased to £1.7 trillion, I believe, rather than being reduced?

    The Tories used the excuse for austerity cuts to reduce the national debt when in reality, it was preparing state run services for mass privatisation (and to have a trade deal with the USA, hence the fixed and rigged EU Ref.)?

    The austerity cuts also greatly undermined the NHS by the Tories cutting year by year the monies the NHS were receiving. The Tories say ‘ They increased monies for the NHS ‘ but they are Tories, and we all know Tories like to ‘ bend the truth ‘.

    The Tories have done away with the Barnett Formula, and have reduced monies to Scotland, hence forcing the SNP to force Local Authorities to do austerity cuts, thus weakening the SNP…….. this is my thinking of this whole saga of the Tories saving money…….when they are increasing the national debt.

    Reply

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