THERE’S almost a bullying tone to some of the voices raised in criticism of the government’s economic policies. Anyone who dares to suggest that the current crisis is not of our making gets the proverbial Chinese burn behind the bike shed and has his dinner money stolen.
So Sir Alan Budd, former adviser to Tory chancellors Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke, might want to get his mum to pick him up from school for the next couple of days. According to Paul Waugh of The Evening Standard, Sir Alan told Radio 4:
On the issue of whether the nation is on the edge of “bankruptcy”, he said:
“Expressions like the country going bankrupt aren’t really suitable to be used in these circumstances. There are problems out there but they’re not to do with bankruptcy.”
This contrasts slightly with D Cameron (who worked alongside Sir Alan when he was with Lamont) just a week ago, declaring “We’ve got to stop this Government before they bankrupt our economy and bankrupt our children’s future”.
Here’s Sir Alan on the fall in sterling:
“I don’t think a fall in the currency in itself is a serious matter, this is a price that is determined in free markets. Let people take their views of the future value of Sterling, some will get it right and some will get it wrong. This doesn’t prevent the Government from being able to finance its deficit and it is able to do that at the moment at very low interest rates”
And on the public finances in general:
“I don’t think public finances are a problem at the moment. They are not nearly as healthy as one would wish but I don’t think we need worry about the public finances, what we do need to worry about are the commercial finances and the operation of the banking system.”
I don’t deny that recent polls suggest Labour is losing the economic argument. That doesn’t mean the critics are right or that the public won’t give us the benefit of the doubt when polling day comes around.
I remain firmly of the view that, had we been inflicted with a Conservative government in the last decade, not only would we be facing exactly the same economic difficulties as today, but that we would be doing so without the new hospitals and schools which were so needed in 1997 and which Do-Nothing still insists were not.