The first part is dire: acting as if the government’s borrowing is a choice that has got us into trouble, rather than a necessary reaction to the private sector retrenchment.
He has compared the borrowing (4% cost) to a credit card (17% cost); would you want a finance director with that bad a sense of proportion?
He has again highlighted debt interest being higher than the education bill. Which was the same as under Thatcher – were her priorities also ‘crazy? He talks about interest rates going up and up for you and me, even though rates throughout this borrowing ‘binge’ are as low as they have ever been.
Then he talks about how they make tax rises inevitable. But paying the deficit down alsoa involves tax rises, in part, even though Osborne is now claiming that the tax rises are somehow being done as an alternative to cutting wasteful inefficiencies.
‘First we are going to take action on debt to get the economy moving’. If this is really how he sees the causality, he is utterly deluded about what is failing to get the economy moving, which – unlike in the early 80s – is not government oppression and high rates and taxes, but insufficient demand. Even ‘wasteful spending’ contribute demand.
And in claiming to protect the NHS, and a list of other things (winter fuel, tax credits for the middle income) he will have to cut everything else by 20%
He then says he will boost enterprise and get job creation going. But Darling’s Budget had a lot of measures to that end, despite Osborne claiming that the Budget did ‘nothing’ for growth.
His call to vote for them indicates that there is a choice between debt waste and taxes or the Conservatives. But debt and taxes will have to be there under the Conservatives as well. An honest account would have said “Trust me, it will be tough under us as well” rather than “it’s all about waste cutting”. The only thing he admitted to needing cut was benefits for, you know, those benefits cheats.
If he is the next Chancellor, he will have to do a lot better than this. This dismays me, because there are plenty of reasonable Conservatives out there – I met one on Monday night at a business event, a thoughtful bright guy – but they seem determined not to show this.
Now Baroness Warsi is ranting on QT about the deficit. It always drives me mad …