If the newspapers are anything to go by, Nick Clegg has taken the party irreversibly to the right; we are all economic liberals now.
Strange then that, on the day Clegg marks his first year as leader he unveils a policy of purist Keynsianism. Still, as the old saying goes: if you have a reputation as an early riser you can lie in until noon.
The Green Road Out Of Recession is not merely not a tax cut – it is an alternative to a tax cut. That low rumbling noise you can here is David Laws’ teeth grinding.
But I am here to praise Clegg, not bury the so-called Orange Bookers. I was relatively supportive in principle of a VAT cut; a VAT cut is better than the Tory plan to do nothing. The Green Road Out of Recession is better still.
Cobden’s complaint that the money won’t be spent immediately is, to use his choice turn of phrase “utter bollocks.” If the UK government were committed to this plan, it could start handing out cash to private contractors within a matter of days. That would mean saving real jobs at a vulnerable time; jobs and skills that no fiscal stimulus could save.
Reading through it all (pdf), it really is a great piece of policy work, matching campaign objectives with specific costings. In short, it is everything Make it Happen and Clegg’s ill-advised blagging about vast bulky tax cuts was not. On top of that, it offers economic relief in the short term followed by a boost to our environmental and social goals in the longer term. Steve Webb deserves hearty congratulations. It kicks caboose.
Fundamentally, it shows that for all his talk about not wanting statist solutions, there is still a real place for precisely that. In this case, one of purest economics, the more rightwing economic liberals simply have nothing to say. They’re whole case is built on a presumption on excess capacity and endless growth; as soon as both those presumptions go out of the window all they can do is stare dumbly.
So at end of a… variable year, I find myself with a big smile on my face. A clear sign that we are going in the right direction at last. Here’s hoping the next twelve months will have a lot more days like today in it.
‘Right wing’ liberals have a plan – it is to stop stealing money to spend it again.
Shuffling money round will not solve any problems, it will not stimulate the economy, except provide money to friends of the government.
We are heading in the same direction Japan did after its asset boom, we are pursuing the same, failed, policies.
Quite frankly, doing nothing is better than anything politicians are likely to sanction, at least if government does nothing and makes that clear it removes one factor of uncertainty from the economy.
IAWTP. but it’s “their whole case, dear boy!