Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tories attack New Labour proposals as a return to 1979... No, really!

The economic downturn hammered the American Republican party and, based on George Osborne's appalling performance in parliament yesterday, it deserves to destroy the British Conservative party as well.

At a time when Barack Obama and George Bush appear to be in broad agreement on the need for an economic stimulus package, the Tories are unique in calling for the problem to be addressed by cuts in public services.

Alastair Darling yesterday announced a cut in Vat and a rise in tax for those earning over £150,000 as part of a £21 billion economic stimulus package not dissimilar to the kind of moves being proposed in the US to fend off recession.

But when George Osborne took to his feet in parliament to attack Labour's proposals he offered such hyperbole that one was left wondering if he had even opened a newspaper over the past couple of months.

He refused to accept that the current economic crisis began with the subprime mortgage crisis in the US claiming that this was an excuse dreamt up by New Labour and saying that Gordon Brown had mistaken a "boom for stability and never prepared Britain for the bust".

I have no doubt that the fact that Gordon Brown continually reminded the Tories that he had ended the days of "boom and bust" in the UK economy must have got under the Tories skins, but the wish of George Osborne to portray what is clearly an international economic crisis as something which deserves to be lain solely at the door of Gordon Brown became, at first fanciful, but, the longer Osborne droned on, the entire Conservative party simply started to look bonkers.

He was so keen to portray this economic crisis as a return to the bad old days of the winter of discontent that he simply detached himself from reality altogether.

"It is confirmation of the time old truth that all Labour chancellors run out of money and all Labour governments bring this country to the verge of bankruptcy.

"Stability has gone out of the window, prudence is dead, Labour has done it again."

There is an old cliche in the UK which states that the Conservatives are always fighting the last election, but in this case Osborne has transported us all the way back to Jim Callaghan and 1979 and asked us to pretend that the last decade of New Labour simply hadn't happened.

Mr Osborne said the "reckless" pre-Budget report was the "greatest failure of public policy for a generation".

"The chancellor could have taken a different path today, the path of radical monetary action and responsible fiscal policy - that is the right route out of a recession," he said.

"Instead he offers temporary tax give-aways paid for by a lifetime of tax rises for the British people. The national debt doubled and the future mortgaged to bail out the mistakes of the past."

It simply astonishes me that David Cameron, having carefully managed to change the Tory image as the nasty party, has decided the only way out of this economic crisis is for us to start to tighten our belts and cut public services. It's like he's taken us back to Thatcherism in a single stroke after spending the last few years carefully pointing out that he is not Thatcher.

Their proposals go against, not only those of New Labour, they go against the proposals of Barack Obama and almost every other government in the western world.

But Osborne's hyperbole, his decision to portray a worldwide economic crisis as being solely the responsibility of New Labour, was simply nuts. He sounded utterly deranged in his attempts to tie Gordon Brown to the policies of Jim Callaghan.
The package was the "bill for a decade of irresponsibility", he said.
I actually have questions about some of Darling's proposals, but to suggest that we do nothing - which is essentially the Tory position - is simply the maddest thing I have ever heard.

And to attempt to lay the blame for a worldwide economic recession at the door of a British Prime Minister goes beyond hyperbole and starts to knock on the doors of insanity.

However, in a political system in which both parties fight for the mythical centrist voter, circumstances have forced both to show more of their hands than they have hitherto wanted to show. Labour will tax and spend their way out of recession whilst the Tories will cut public spending and programmes which aid the poor.

Those are the clear choices on offer. I know which proposal I prefer, and it's not the one which cuts public spending.

UPDATE:

This is an example of how Barack Obama proposes tackling this crisis in the US:

President-elect Barack Obama yesterday promised an extraordinary multibillion-dollar economic package to deliver a jolt to the US and stave off what he described as a "crisis of historic proportions".

Obama, introducing his new economic team of Tim Geithner as treasury secretary and Larry Summers as his White House economics adviser, stressed that the scale of the recession required action by the US in tandem with other governments. His team will reach out to other countries to coordinate efforts, he said.

Asked about speculation that his package will cost between $700bn (£460bn) and $1tr, Obama declined to put a figure on it. He said it was necessary not only to have a thriving Wall Street but a thriving main street too. "We are going to do what is required to jolt this economy back into shape," the president-elect said.

The Tories now find themselves engaging in the arguments of nutters like Michelle Malkin who essentially are still making the case that the market is always right and the market must be allowed to decide who stands and who falls, even if this means our entire economic structure ends up in collapse.

Click title for full article.

2 comments:

curly15 said...

I just don't think this stimulus will work at all, the first indications of Labour's failings will be very poor retail sales figures at Christmas.

Kel said...

I'm sure whatever the retail figures, Labour will argue that it would have been worse without their intervention.

I would have preferred for them to have gone even further and cut taxation for the middle and the working class.

What appalls me about the Tories is that they appear to have no plan at all and simply want to let the market decide. I thought such Reaganomics died with the financial collapse in the US, but the Tories appear not to have got the memo.