It is now year seven in Britain's Age of Austerity and no end is in sight for the economic pain ordinary citizens have felt since the Tories came to power in 2010.

Each Budget passed by the Conservatives comes to the people of this nation like a lash to the back of a man condemned to a punishment of whipping for the crime of penury. Philip Hammond's Spring Budget, although shorter in content than his predecessor George Osborne's, was just as harsh to the ordinary citizens as Tory Budgets past.

It did not veer from the message that the poor and the average worker must pay for the sins of the rich by tightening of their belts through less social services and in-work benefits. It's not that Hammond cut any further into the people's hardships in this Budget. He couldn't because there is no flesh left on the bone of our once- just society.

It's just that the chancellor left the nation in austerity limbo because Hammond knows that Brexit will not build a new Jerusalem for those forgotten, ignored or castigated by globalisation. In fact it will cause the opposite, so he must hold his knife at the ready to cut more social services, for when we are cast adrift from the EU.

Sadly, this Budget assured us that no rescue would come from austerity in the foreseeable future. Instead the chancellor spoke like a surgeon to a multiple amputee who still suffered from gangrene, when he told the nation that in respect to austerity: "Our job is not done."

Like Cecil Rhodes' final words "so little done, so much to do", we should treat those words of Philip Hammond with the dread they deserve. The Tories will never taper down austerity. No, they let it rage like a three alarm fire until the foundations of the welfare state collapse in on itself.

It's why, after years of deliberate neglect to the NHS, which has put its very existence into question as a public institution, providing £2bn extra for social care is as insufficient to that crisis as giving a sticky plaster to a gunshot victim.

Britain stands at its worst social crisis since the Great Depression, but this Budget offered no hope for those struggling because of the rising cost of housing or education. There are 1.2 million people currently on housing waiting lists that are as dismal as the waiting times for apartments in communist Russia at the moment of its collapse in the 1980s.

On the night before this Budget was tabled 4,000 people slept rough in our nation's cities, towns and villages. Yet Hammond's Budget was schtum about the very profound suffering austerity has caused Britain over the last seven years.

We stand at the greatest refugee crisis since 1945, but this Budget had no extra money or human compassion to help tackle a situation that if not addressed will lead to a global calamity. Perhaps those of extreme inherited wealth are just incapable of comprehending that social and economic inequality leads to the anarchy of populism and the death of democracy.

Budget 2017 Philip Hammond Chancellor
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond poses for pictures with the Budget Box as he leaves 11 Downing StreetBen Stansall/AFP

It is certainly evident that this Tory government is blind and deaf to both the calls of ordinary people and esteemed economists to end austerity before it leads to national catastrophe. But each Budget written by the Tories reaffirms the notion that austerity was never about economics. It is about right-wing political ideology.

Otherwise Hammond would not have increased the National Insurance Contributions of the self-employed, of which the majority are just ordinary folk thrown into the shark tank of the gig economy where they have little to no job protection and few financial benefits awarded them.

Moreover, do no mistake Hammond's pledge of £320m more for education as an indication that the Tories believe everyone, regardless of their class, deserves an equal and excellent education. Most of that money will be earmarked for Theresa May's grammar school folly where only the few will succeed like in the Britain of my youth. Besides, the amount of money given today will in no way make up for £3bn in cuts this government has forced schools to accommodate by 2020.

When it comes to Tory Budgets everyone is punished except the rich. It's why the austerity we live in today has lasted longer than the one I experienced as a young man in my 20s after the Second World War. But the austerity Labour introduced in 1945 bears no resemblance to the one introduced by David Cameron and championed by his successor May.

The austerity of my youth created the NHS, affordable housing and education, a nationalised rail service, decent wages for the working class, as well as high taxes for the rich. Today's austerity has only produced the destruction of the welfare state to benefit the 1%.

Today's Tory Budget is just more fuel onto the funeral pyre of the civilised state. Like the lash onto a condemned man's back, ordinary Britain can only take these Budgets of austerity for a while longer before we expire.


Harry Leslie Smith is a Second World War veteran, activist and writer. His first book, Harry's Last Stand, was published in June 2014 and his second, Love Among the Ruins, is out now. Check out www.harryslaststand.com and follow him on Twitter at @Harryslaststand