Sunday, 30 September 2012
"Truth" and two "trusts."
During last week I caught a clip of David Cameron addressing the United Nations and lambasting, without actually naming them, Russia and China for failing to support UN action in Syria. I thought at the time that these two big beast of the current world stage were unlikely to be taking much notice of what this pipsqueak from a fading great power had to say about them. In much the same way I doubt if the UK's two big beast political parties are too worried about about the detail of what is said and not said at the Liberal Democrat Conference, and the public in general will be even less concerned. So this is a warning not to take these matters too seriously.
In general Nick Clegg seems to have come over well, recognised by the commentators I read, who are not all necessarily sympathetic, as resilient and likable under fire, though getting more of his fair share of opprobrium. This should put paid to the pointless and destructive distraction of a leadership challenge.
It was good that the Conference flexed its muscles and defied the government and party managers by voting against the relaxation of planning laws as a somewhat puny, but potentially environmentally destructive, means of stimulation the economy.
Hugely disappointing, however, was the continued support , in the face of all the evidence as I see it, of the Tory economic policy. This oxymoronic concept of "expansionary contraction" never did have much credence. It is based on the theory (for which our economics text books of more than a decade ago said the evidence was "scanty") that public investment "crowds out " private investment, and that if we shrink the state the private sector will expand to fill the gap. Well, after almost two and a half years of much urging and massive injections of available funds through quantitative easing, it hasn't happened yet. How much more evidence do we want?
Vince Cable in his speech "talked the talk" by admitting that "no amount of push from supply-side reform can possibly succeed without the pull of demand", but incredibly failed to "walk the walk" by declaring his "continued support " for the current "deficit reduction plan" - that is, Plan A.
It was also disappointing to hear Nick Clegg, in his question and answer session, "shroud waving" the case of Greece. This country is not and never was in a situation comparable to that of Greece. Our public debt to GDP ratio is half theirs, most of it is held internally and on a long repayment period that averages 14 years.
Clegg's rallying speech at the end also showed that, nice chap as he is, his choice of words was hugely mistaken and contained nuances that can hardly be described as honest. He said:
Then ask them (your electorates): are you ready to trust Labour with your money again? And do you really think the Tories will make Britain fairer? Because the truth is, only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted on the economy and relied upon to deliver a fairer society too.
All Liberal Democrats are well advised to avoid the word "trust" for the foreseeable future, because however unfairly, it just reminds people of the broken promise on student fees and that we have now forfeited our reputation as the party that can be trusted.
The nuance that Labour financial irresponsibility is the cause of our present economic difficulties is unworthy. The cause was and, alas, still is, greed made possible by the deregulated capitalism introduced and so strongly supported by our present partners in government. If it was once expedient to hint otherwis it is no longer. George Osborne was booed at the Paralympics but Gordon Brown was cheered