Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Look and learn from across the Irish Sea....

In the Commons yesterday George Osborne introduced a £10 billion loan to the Irish Government by saying that he had "told us so", and that he was finding the money for "a friend in need".

Not strictly true, Georgey boy....

In February 2006 the then Shadow Chancellor had an article in the Times under the heading 
"Look and learn from across the Irish Sea". 
In the article, in which looked longingly at the economic performance of our nearest neighbours, he asked adoringly; 
"What has caused this Irish miracle, and how can we in Britain emulate it?"
 Mr Osborne extolled the peformance of the Irish economy and applauded in particular the policy of extremely low corporation tax. 

Since then of course other things have happened, what Harold MacMillan called "events dear boy, events".

And what events. Banking collapses, industrial collapses, economic collapses and national bankruptcies. The world economy shaken and received ideas reversed and turned upside down.

In Ireland, where the problems were amongst the most severe, the neo-liberal recipe for national "success" had been most firmly followed, the neo-liberal curative medicine has been taken willingly and in giant doses. You want austerity? We'll give you austerity. You want welfare cuts and a smaller state? We'll give you all of that and more. Lower taxes and bigger cuts and faster cuts: we got 'em! Sound familiar? In fact it's all of the recipe that George Osborne and Vince Cable tell us we in the UK need to swallow as well.

Ireland has already taken the medicine, and where has it got them? Catastrophe is where it's got them. Disaster squared and cubed again. The worst possible outcome for a fledgeling tiger. It's teeth have been drawn and its roar has been silenced.

No wonder that George Osborne is willing to find £10 billion to help the Irish economy recover: if the Irish go under (assuming they're not under already), Osborne's policies will have failed and have been shown to have failed. Spectacularly.

So when you here Mr Osborne say the he "told you so", he didn't. And when he says he's lending the money to "a friend in need", take all of that with a pinch of salt.

George Osborne is wedded to the Irish and neo-liberal economic strategy, and its failure will be his failure. And, unfortunately if and when it comes (and let's hope it doesn't), it will be our failure too.

P.s. Liberal Conspiracy has a good post on how all the right wingers got Ireland wrong...

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