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.


  1. Yes, the new May administration is cunningly portraying itself as a whole new, different government, swept in by a "popular", "landslide" (52-48, of course) Brexit vote. (Who needs general elections?)

    1. Of course if May were to hold a general election right now, she would win in a landslide and utterly annihilate the Labour Party in England (they might cling onto a few seats in Wales). Then she'd be in charge with an even greater majority than her current one.

      So, you know, if you dislike May's government, be careful what you wish for…

  2. While this is all true, and I don't believe that what Theresa May has said is anything more than an attempt to smooth talk the electorate by pretending that what happened between 20010 and 2015 was nothing to do with her, what is also true is that we were also in government from 2010 to 2015 and Danny Alexander went so native, he was George Osborne's biggest cheerleader. Nick described it as "grown up government," and fought against any change of direction. You were equally adamant that any indication of contrition or change would be a disaster. As a result we are now in the position where we are back to where we were 50 years ago with MPs in single figures one MEP, one AM and we are leaving the EU. Councillors are doing a bit better and may lead an eventual recovery, but boundary reviews could cost us another 4 MPs in 2020 and if it does we will be toast as a parliamentary force.

    So sorry, but your moaning about the Conservatives is approximately 5 years too late.

    1. Thanks for your comment, David. You are absolutely right in your analysis of our complicity in these counter-productive policies, not least in relation to the part played by Danny Alexander, who seemed even more enthusiastic about cutting than the Tories.

      However, I plead a determined "not guilty" to your accusation that I am "5 years too late."

      I started this blog just before the 2010 election and have been consistent in condemning the economic policies of the Coalition. To give just one example, here's an extract from an open letter I sent to Simon Hughes and published on the blog on 26th June 2010:

      "I’m strongly of the opinion that the Liberal Democrat Party, heir to the party of Keynes and Beveridge, should be opposing the current policy of immediate deficit reduction. I understand that we are the junior partner in the coalition and cannot impose our views on the major partner. However, we needn’t be heard supporting them in public. After all, it is part of the coalition deal that there should be reform of the electoral system, but David Cameron has reserved the right to campaign against that. If Liberal Democrats in government are not, under the terms of the coalition, similarly able to campaign openly against these economic follies, then they should be doing so privately. But there is little evidence of this, in fact the opposite. Both Nick Clegg and Vince Cable claim to have been converted to the necessity of immediate cuts. I feel that this has damaged our credibility and perhaps our integrity as well."

      If you have the time and patience you can trawl through the six years of posts and find more examples. Unfortunately these, and letters to Ad Lib and letters and an article in Liberator, fell on deaf ears.

  3. Indeed, anyone who has regularly followed this blog over the past 6 years would testify to Peter's consistency as a trenchant and acute critic of the economic policies of the Coalition and the Tories from Day One. Unfortunately it has taken five years too long for others to catch up.

  4. I am all that much satisfied with the substance you have specified. I needed to thank you for this extraordinary article.  small business it support Wisconsin