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.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty