Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Don't be disappointed, George...

For weeks now the Conservatives have been painting as black a picture of the economy as it is possible to envisage: the UK is in as big a hole as Greece, the deficit is unprecedented and unsustainable, we are all off to hell in a handcart if we don't cut public services and cut deep and cut soon. George Osborne claimed in the Commons yesterday that an "independent" forecast provided "damning evidence that the UK's public finances were even worse than thought".

It has to be said that the "independence" of the source, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), is not a given: Sir Alan Budd's organisation was set up as a Tory think tank and was already producing reports and analysis for the Conservative Party before the general election. Even so, and "independent" or not, the OBR has not endorsed Mr Osborne's claim the things are worse than previously thought. In fact the deficit is confirmed as much lower than previously forecast. The OBR report also confirms that decisions already taken by Alasdair Darling are sufficient to meet George Osborne's aim to "substantially reduce" the deficit by 2015, without the necessity for any further savage cuts. UK debt is mostly incurred at low rates over a long period, and should prove more sustainable than the debt of most other countries. The UK is not Greece, or anything like it.

One of the more astonishing aspects of the affair is that George Osborne seemed peeved and disappointed at the (relatively) good news produced by the OBR. It seems that our Chancellor would rather claim some party advantage from a gloomy forecast than accept that things are not as black as they could be.

The suspicion grows that the Conservatives wish to use the excuse of the recession to achieve the Thatcherite aim of repealing and dismantling the post-war consensus on the Welfare State. Maggie failed in her aim. But she did much damage in the process, drivin up unemployment, dividing the nation, selling off the family silver and wasting the oil bonanza on city booms and busts that ended in the ignomonious destruction of the UK economy on Black Wednesday.

David Cameron was a young adviser to the then Chancellor, Norman Lamont. If Mr Cameron really still does harbour the dreams of the Tory right of his youth, of  a neutered state, mass privatisation and a decimated public sector, then it is fortunate for us, the people of the UK who depend upon these essential public services, that the Tories' own "independent" consultants have failed to provide the cover for the savage cuts that this strategy implies.


  1. >>decisions already taken by Alasdair Darling

    He didnt make any decisions. He just said he would make cuts in future, not what they would be. Now he is pretending that cuts arent even needed.

    >>dismantling the post-war consensus on the Welfare State

    The only welfare that is being cut is for the middle classes. The welfare state was supposed to be a safety net for the poor, not a handout to buy middle class votes for Labour.

    Labour pretend to be the party that protects the working classes, but they tax the working classes and spend it on welfare for the middle classes. Where is the fairness in that?

  2. Interesting that you think Alasdair Darling didn't make any decisions, because the Tories' own Office of Budget Regulation (OBR) said that the decisions already taken by Alasdair Darling were sufficient to achieve the Tories' aim of "substantially reducing the deficit by 2015"...

    Of course I might be wrong, the newspapers and TV and radio that reported it might be wrong and the ORB itself might be wrong, and you might be right.

    But I don't think so.