The Thick of It


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Can a recession ever be a good thing? Richard Bacon show discussion

Yesterday Andrew Lansley, Tory Health Spokesman, was forced to withdraw a blog entry stating that "Interestingly on many counts, recession can be good for us. People tend to smoke less, drink less alcohol, eat less rich food and spend time at home with their families." Last night I spoke from the panel on Richard Bacon's BBC Radio Five Live show about this. Saying recession is a bad thing. David Kuo said it can be.

Lansley was both misguided and insensitive. It shows that many of the Tories haven't changed. At the 1997 election the Tories said of the harsh economic climate a few years earlier "yes it hurt, yes it worked." Their premise is that job losses are a price worth paying for a stronger economy. Kou agreed, saying that many jobs are worthless. I disagree.

Our economy is based on work providing enough to pay for our living costs. Without that most people's lifestyles will fall apart. We saw in the 1980s that many families and whole parts of Britain never recovered from the closure of industry.

I accept that many people naively thought the economy, house prices and the stock market would grow continuously. This is clearly not the case. However, a recession will be bad for families, under financial pressure and facing the threat of losing their homes and jobs.

The side effect of recession is poverty, often higher crime, family breakdown, higher alcoholism and drug taking.

Of course there will be some positive side effects of recession. People will become more frugal, use less energy and waste less. This is a good thing. However, this is a nasty lesson to learn and one most people would rather avoid. I'd like to have the same discussion in a year's time and see whether the callers to the show still agreed that recession would be OK, once they'd had to suffer the effects.

You can listen again to the show here and clicking on Wednesday.


Dammo said...

On the whole, recession is a bad thing, we all know that. However u can try to put a positive spin on it, and as such Lansleys comments are true and honest. Obv people will take umbrage as people expect the stereotyped brave face at times like these. Business is still thriving for me anyway!

Shame on Cameron or whoever told him to retract it, Lansleys just expressing a view and its not heartless to suggest a bit of belt-tightening isnt beneficial at times. I wish more politicians could be open and honest about their views instead of being predictable and toeing the partyline.

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