Thursday, 6 October 2016
"Sorry: we got it wrong!" (The Tories)
"Sorry, we've been getting it wrong for the past six years. We'll try to do less badly from now on." In an honest world that would be the message beamed loud and clear from the Tory Party's conference.
Remember, in 2010 when the Tory-led government took office, we were told that the government's overwhelming priority was to eliminate the internal deficit and preserve our international AAA rating for economic dependability. The deficit was to be eliminated by the end of the parliament, after which the National Debt was to be gradually reduced. To achieve this government expenditure was to be savagely cut..
So public services were cut, the civil service reduced in size, grants to local government were cut (most severely to areas with the greatest problems), recipients of social security payments were demonised, the toxic bedroom tax was introduce, and the disabled were subjected to humiliating harassment, to name but a few.
Macro-economists ranging from the great and the good to this humble blog, screamed that this was the wrong thing to do. As Keynes pointed out, in a depression the proper government reaction is to undertake public works and the resulting increases in incomes, employment and growth will eventually, and before we're all dead, rectify the government's finances through an increase in the tax-take and fall in social security expenditure
As predicted, and in spite of the suffering experienced largely by those at the bottom of the pile, the policy failed. The AAA rating was lost in 2013, the "balancing of the books" was postponed to halfway through the next parliament, and then, after the defenestration of Cameron and Osborne, to the one after this.
A record of economic competence it is not.
On top of that the EU Referendum, a device simply to solve an internal party difficulty and for which there was no real public appetite (EU matters came about 13th in the public's list of concerns, way behind employment, the NHS, housing, and education) has produced the biggest government fiasco since Lord North lost the American colonies over and argument about the tax on tea.
Mrs May's declaration that "things must change" - and that in future we'll have "a country that works for everyone" is clearly an admission that for the past six years it didn't.
This is received with rapturous cheers by the party faithful, and magnified by the sycophantic press, as though Mrs May, and they, were absolutely nothing to do with the previous administration.
It is perception management at its best, but an honest appraisal it is not.