No perhaps, no maybe, no one is bound to suspect , no other polite suggestions of possibilities: distinguished Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang, in yesterday's Guardian, comes out with it bluntly:-
"...spending cuts are not about deficits but about rolling back the welfare state."
I sincerely hope this article is blazoned around the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton and flaunted in the faces of Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs.
What are the implications for the party? Not that we should leave the coalition. The parliamentary arithmetic, determined by the electorate, and the intransigence of the Labour party, meant that we had no option but to enter it (though we could have spent longer in negotiating a more watertight coalition agreement.) If we had not the Conservatives would have formed a minority administration, called another election within six months and in all probability been in power now with no Liberal Democrat influence on them. There would have been no fixed term parliament: probably the most significant of our achievements in government.
So we should remain in government, celebrate our achievements in fairer taxation, positive engagement with the EU, respect for human rights, green investment etc., and continue to press for more, (particularly a reform of company law to make companies legally responsible to all stakeholders rather than just shareholders) but disassociate ourselves from the failed economic policy with its harmful personal and social consequences.
We should have nothing more to do with the cuts in welfare; rather the reverse.. Danny Alexander should be removed from the Treasury. The cracks in the misplaced adherence to collective responsibility are now beginning to show. It is good to see Vince Cable at last sailing under our true colours and calling for fewer cuts and more Keynesian pump priming. If we can't get all we want, because they have 305 MPs and we have only 57, we can at least let the electorate know that that is what we would do if we were the major partners.
Ha-Joon Chang's article is well worth a read. His theme is that our exports are unable to take advantage of the massive depreciation of sterling since 2007 because we simply do not have the goods and services to export. We can no longer rely on financial services (perhaps it was unwise ever to do so) and we need a national strategy to " identify the industries, and the underlying technologies that will be the future motor of the economy and then provide them with the necessary support.." Neocon market forces economics it is not