“When it comes to fiscal responsibility, it’s your real future liability and assets that matter…”

So yesterday it was Labour making promises they don’t know they can keep, and today it is the Conservatives taking stale old policies from the 1980s out of the oven and serving them as fresh, leaving the country with a poor politics of small differences.

So, on old narratives recycled as new, here’s Outside Left on the illusory comfort of austerity politics:

When it comes to fiscal responsibility your paper balance sheet doesn’t really matter, it’s your real future liability and assets that matter. Or at least that’s true in finance. What really happened is that financiers knew that the British state needed to invest in infrastructure and were happy to lend Labour money.

Labour could have got this money on normal sovereign rates but they were restricted by the press and by public opinion. A similar thing is playing out with the difference between Labour and Tory spending plans for the 2015 election. Labour are promising to be fiscally responsible but to borrow for investment.

In reality there’s no clear line between current spending and investment spending. Would tens of billions of pounds spent on effective mental health care pay reduce days lost to work and pay for itself and more? Would improved child care allow more people into work and pay for itself and more? Is repairing roads that are heavily congested really a valuable investment?

Just like in 1997, 2015 Labour are dancing to a tune that only exists in the public and press’s heads. It will probably end up with things better than if the Tories were in but worse than if they didn’t have to pander to nonsense paranoia about the national credit card.

Yes, all that’s missing is a good plan. Labour? Tories? SNP? Ah, we’re all out of long range political investment forecasts.

Except this final flourish from Inside Left him/herself…

I expect to be writing this post in 2035 too so don’t expect this to change any time soon.

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  • Barneyt

    I’ve always innocently expressed the need to protect and enshrine core services that we all depend on, to somehow protect them from political meddling. This of course assumes that some aspects of society and the infrastructure we depend on can be treated apolitically and we can gain consensus on their need and how they should be run.

    Its perhaps a non-starter.

  • Kevin Breslin

    No mention of productivity or actually making things … the whole private sector filling the gap, or co-operatives bringing people together or the churches or the whole “maker culture” or “citizen science”

  • mickfealty

    Not an non starter, but worthy of the question Can you separate the facts from your beliefs when making policy?: http://goo.gl/9nbbXz.

    The point is our democratic model of politics is slowly and inelegantly collapsing. The demagogues stand ready to move into the vacuum created by the resulting inaction and poor public engagement.

    The more specific point is that change won’t happen if you don’t find the means to make it happen democratically, no matter how charismatic your leader happens to be…

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think it’s a matter of which facts you believe are important on the one hand and what you believe to be important facts on the other, and whether you believe there’s a difference in those statements, I can say there is one FACT. I am right and you need to accept I am right.

  • D99

    Unfortunately, many politicians tend to start with their beliefs and ideology and then select evidence or twist facts to support those beliefs and that ideology. They very often stretch the notion that in politics ‘there’s no right or wrong, but thinking (i.e., believing) makes it so’. If there’s no common consensus on what is true, right, wrong, effective, efficient, or good for the people, then there’s a kind of moral or political equivalence. Objectivity is dead in the water.

    Those with the loudest voices, biggest budgets and most effective rhetoric and media campaigns tend to win the hearts and minds of those that can be bothered to vote for the least worst alternative. Because even if you think none of the political parties can represent you, you always dislike some more than others. And you have to vote for someone. Right?

    It seems the demagogues are already here. And, in this scenario, real change is impossible.

    Maybe, I’m guilty of letting my beliefs and skepticism get in the way of the facts of the matter. But we’ve now got a situation in which about half of the voting population don’t exercise their right to vote. Democracy is hollowed out.

    If we can’t have objectivity, we must at least demand transparency and accountability. Maybe transparency is the new objectivity.

    We certainly need much more fact checking, disambiguation and openness: more participatory democracy, and more public engagement in decisions that affect our lives.

    So how are we going to make that happen?