The Thick of It


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

David Cameron is the new Ramsay MacDonald

At last nights tenth Aneurin Bevan Society lecture, Ed Balls likened David Cameron's economic policy to former Labour then national government PM Ramsay MacDonald. Piling austerity measures onto a struggling economy stifled and lengthened recovery from depression then and threatens to do so again.

Cameron won't end up with the same fate as MacDonald, hated for history by almost all in his party. At the moment Cameron is only riled by some of his party but not to the extent that MacDonald is by Labour people.

Balls suggested that the binding nature of the Tory Lib Dem coalition agreement, that prioritises deficit reduction over all else, is creating an inflexibility stopping the government from being able to change path. Further, their ideological attachment to shrinking the state means that whatever the economic indicators tell us, the coalition won't change policy.

Politically, Balls said, the Tories are fuelling cynicism and pessimism because they tell us that there is no alternative to their chosen path. That means we should accept that stagnation, falling living standards and rising unemployment are an unavoidable medicine we all have to endure.

If people believe there to be no alternative to their lives getting worse thanks to government policy that will only turn them away from politics. What is the point in voting if it doesn't achieve anything?

Progress of UK recessions
It doesn't have to be like that, argued Balls. Government is capable of making people's lives easier and managing the deficit at the same time. This is the Labour alternative.

The chart above shows the UK economy improving until the middle of 2010 when the Tories got in. Since then growth has been non existent. Without people in jobs, shopping, paying taxes and contributing to GDP as unemployment rises the deficit will get bigger, as demonstrated by the extra £46bn of borrowing under the Cameron-Osborne axis. This is simply because former tax payers and shoppers are now being paid benefits and are not paying tax or creating anything for the economy. Simple stuff.

Bevan understood that nothing was possible without power. Balls gets that too. He needs to get his message across to the country to ensure voters get it.

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