Tuesday, 29 October 2013
Labour's Economic Legacy
I was enjoying a long weekend's walking on Hadrian's Wall when the news of the UK's 0.8% economic growth rate for the past quarter was released, so missed the instant comments. However, I am reliably informed that, when Labour's Ed Balls, after welcoming the growth, regretted the output lost, and unemployment caused, during the past three plus years by the government's ill-advised policies which brought a halt to the 1.1% per quarter growth rate it inherited, Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander's riposte was that he could take no lessons from "one of the people who helped crash the economy in the first place."
Liberal Democrats should be ashamed of pushing this line.
The world economic crash was caused by the reckless behaviour of the financial sector "liberated" by the policies of deregulation introduced by the Tories. If Labour didn't do enough to rein in the bankers, it was partly because the Tories were calling for even lighter regulation. That the neocon establishment, supported by the right-wing press,* has managed to convince so many that Labour is responsible for the crash is a triumph of perception management.
Liberal Democrats should stop supporting this gross misrepresentation for three reasons:
1. Blaming the last lot for current difficulties is a ruse which, even if it were true, has diminishing effect when the next election is nearer than the last.
2. Many of the electorate have now rumbled this: it was Gordon Brown who was cheered when presenting medals at the Olympics, and George Osborne who was booed.
but most importantly:
3. It simply isn't true, and is particularly unworthy of the party that claims a mission to restore honesty into politics.
For those who are interested a reasonably balanced view of Gordon Brown's tenure, both as Chancellor and Prime Minister, is given in an article by Jonathan Freedland in last Saturday's Guardian.
Liberal Democrat tactics should now be to dissociate ourselves as far as possible from the massive error of Osborne's "expansionary fiscal contraction " and concentrate on giving the maximum possible publicity to the genuine achievements we have made in government, in spite of having only 57 MPs to the Tories' 305.
*A Richard Exell, writing, writing on so-called "health tourism," in a blog called "Touchstone" puts the power of the press to distort the truth neatly:
. . . the report bears very little relation to the picture painted by the newspapers. Our government may be chumps when it comes to evidence-based policy making, but they can always rely on world-class distortion to see them through.