What about Ireland George?

October 19, 2010 11:20 am

IrelandBy Mark Ferguson / @markfergusonuk

Ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review tomorrow, and following Alan Johnson’s speech on the economy yesterday, it’s clear that both Labour and the coalition are thinking long-term in their economic strategies. That being the case, you’d hope that the chancellor would be someone who had a track record in quality, long-term economic thinking. An indication of George Osborne’s thoughts on the economy from his early days as shadow chancellor can be found in an article for the Times, in which he praised Ireland’s economic “miracle”:

“A generation ago, the very idea that a British politician would go to Ireland to see how to run an economy would have been laughable. The Irish Republic was seen as Britain’s poor and troubled country cousin, a rural backwater on the edge of Europe. Today things are different. Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking.”

The Irish government were some of the earliest proponents of the “austerity” economics favoured by Osborne, choosing to tackle the recession through severe cuts and tax rises. Yet Sky News reported just two weeks ago that:

“Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a key measure of the value of goods and services – is expected to increase by just 0.2% this year, according to the latest quarterly bulletin. That compares with an earlier prediction of 1% growth by the government.”

“A weaker economic backdrop will make it even more difficult for Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s government to tackle the worst budget deficit of any country the European Union, as international concerns about the Republic’s finances mount.”

Osborne’s cuts will weaken the economy further by withdrawing crucial spending from the economy – and perversely make it harder to pay off the deficit. Labour’s alternative plan as outlined by Johnson yesterday places the focus on growth to avoid the Irish scenario being replicated here. Osborne, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have learned the lesson from across the Irish Sea (now that it disagrees with his ideology).

Keynes is often quoted as having said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”. George Osborne however seems determined to prove that this man is ‘not for turning’.

As we head into a spending review that will see severe, real and immediate cuts, perhaps a better question from the media might be – “What about Ireland George?”

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment Labour can change the false narrative with a reality check

    Labour can change the false narrative with a reality check

    A false narrative has developed about Labour that must be rejected comprehensively by a party aiming to govern in six months. It claims that Labour has become alienated from virtually the entire electorate. Our response to date has been ineffective. Here are some suggestions for how we may succeed in future. Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. We should take heed and refuse to be cowed by something as illusory as a […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour consider selling off central London buildings to help pay off debts

    Labour consider selling off central London buildings to help pay off debts

    The Labour leadership say they would consider selling off QEII Conference Centre and the Civil Service Club – alongside two other buildings in London – to help pay off the country’s debt. They say they selling off these government-owned buildings could raise up to £100m, and would be part of a “fairer way” of reducing the deficit. Alongside selling off the QEII conference centre and the Civil Service Club, Labour are also thinking about selling Marlborough House, which is near Buckingham […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Gordon Brown to announce departure as an MP “within days”

    Gordon Brown to announce departure as an MP “within days”

    Former Labour leader and Prime Minister Gordon Brown is set to resign as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath “within days” according to a report from the Sunday Mirror. Brown, who played a key role in the Scottish referendum campaign this year – giving a barnstorming speech on the eve of the vote that defined the case for the union. Brown’s rumoured departure follows his long-time ally Alistair Darling’s decision to quit Parliament in 2015. The Sunday Mirror reports: “Gordon Brown will […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Findlay says information going to party members for leadership vote is “insulting”

    Findlay says information going to party members for leadership vote is “insulting”

    Neil Findlay MSP, who is running to be leader of the Scottish Labour Party, is calling on the Labour Party to clarify what information will be given to members with Leadership ballot papers. At the moment it looks as though the booklet with candidate statements in it only lists the nominations each candidate received from Parliamentarians and not from Constituency Labour Parties, trade Unions or socialist societies. In response to this, Findlay has released the following statement: “Over the last […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It’s Ukip that offends working class sentiment

    It’s Ukip that offends working class sentiment

    After this week’s Twitter row at the Rochester by-election, I am using my keynote speech to the Labour East Regional Conference today to say that it is UKIP who truly offends working class sentiment and represents a party which is fundamentally un-British. Today I am lucky to serve as a Euro MP but, like many in our movement, I grew up on a council estate living in poverty, so don’t need any lectures from UKIP about snobbery. First, we can’t counter UKIP […]

    Read more →