TweedleGeorge and TweedleDanny were out the other day, dressed in G4S style security jackets, announcing a bit of infrastructure spending. TweedleDanny appeared to have lost the power of speech, but he had retained the power of head movement and was nodding earnestly as TweedleGeorge explained how the difficult decisions taken by the coalition had made this extra spending possible.
But no doubt, as they awake to headlines spelling out the story of the IMF’s searing analysis of the government’s economic strategy, in their minds all this bad stuff was down to ‘the mess we inherited’, whereas a few rail projects were only made possible because of the ‘difficult decisions we took.’
The reason the IMF report is so devastating for Mr Osborne and David Cameron is because of the explicit nature of the link in its analysis with the specific policies this government has pursued. Whenever the IMF has peeped a word in support of their strategy, Dave and George have sung it from Number 10 and Number 11 rooftops. So what do they say now that as a result of their sticking to their failing Plan A, Britain risks years of recession and a permanent loss to productive capacity?
Being a couple of ‘arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of milk’ (Arise Dame Nadine Dorries) they will curl the lip, sneer up the eye, and ask each other who the hell the IMF think they are … then go on with Plan A even though its centrepiece objective – sort the deficit over the lifetime of a Parliament -is bust.
Previous IMF reports warned of the possible dangers of a combination of huge public spending cuts and a lack of major infrastructure projects, and they ignored those too, picking on the paragraph or two that said they were doing some things which were right, just as last night the Treasury was trying to get people to focus on the section on the eurozone.
Meanwhile another big objective -‘we will be the greenest government ever’ – is further eroded by news that Osborne is blocking plans for subsidies to boost renewable energy sources. This is a government whose actions can generally be predicted by looking at what they said in Opposition, and working out the opposite.
Meanwhile in so far as there has been any good economic news this week, it was the better than expected unemployment figures, which were attributed to the extra work provided by the Olympics. So let’s add that to the New Labour legacy list, shall we? Oh no, of course, I forgot, good news is their birthright, any bad news is all Labour’s fault.
There are three important points Labour now needs to make with real force and conviction, so that the lies at the heart of the Tories’ politico-economic strategy can be exposed and turned back on them once and for all.
1. More than a decade of growth and rising prosperity under Blair and Brown was a testament to Labour’s better management of the economy.
2. The Labour government’s handling of the Global Financial Crisis helped rescue Britain and the world from an even worse depression. And had they listened to Cameron and Osborne’s advice from Opposition, we would have been sunk.
3. The economy was beginning to recover when power changed hands, and the current mess is in large part the direct consequence of the Cameron-Osborne strategy.
That’s it. Win that argument, and then have clear and credible policies for the future, as we did for the past, and this can be the one-term never-been-elected Tory government it deserves to be.