Economic health – or not

There is an interesting post from Simon Wren Lewis from last month where he suggests that: in the UK Treasury cutting the deficit generally takes priority over the health of the economy

He says:

The UK Treasury bears some responsibility for the disaster of 2010 austerity, yet it has not accepted or understood the mistake it made. As a result it risks repeating the mistake, albeit in a milder form.

and he also thinks that the Treasury helped to persuade the LibDems that austerity was a necessary requirement to get finances on the straight and narrow.

Simon Wren-Lewis worked for Her Majesty’s Treasury as a budget-team member from 1974 to 1981, so it appears that times have changed hardly at all for about half a century. This suggests to me that the wrong people are being recruited. It is probably the same Oxford PPE graduates that we know and love. This is also the preferred degree of many politicians.

Serendipitously for me a family member worked for a short time as Keith Joseph’s secretary – and was aware of at least two civil service economists who, having been promoted, asked to be transferred back from either his office or Thatcher’s.

So anecdotally at least the economic civil service thinking seems gradually to have changed in favour of the so-called ‘sound money’ approach (and maybe this is why, also, Simon Wren-Lewis has moved on?)

Though many would say, including me, not far enough on….

The majority of spending cuts have been imposed on local authorities so ‘levelling up’ is going to be decidedly difficult – the £12billion allegedly spent on test and trace (so much profit did they want that they seemingly used Excel spreadsheets – just twenty years old, at least – instead of a database program to store their data). In fact spending is no longer local, it has gone instead to big national companies like Serco who hoover up the profits to be spent on staff in boardrooms at head office, while the effortlessly useless Dido Harding remains in nominal charge – and of course the locals get virtually nothing.

That, of course, bodes astonishingly well (not) – for seemingly even with all the technology at government disposal there is remarkably little skill, whether brought in or endemic.

No wonder the logistics industry has little faith in government spending or even its IT assurances.

Remarkably this Guardian had an editorial telling it like it is, even if it has had to go back to Roy Jenkins to prove it…

Mind you, with a government that has a socially distanced relationship with the truth and also thinks fiscal rectitude is more important than people’s lives I rather doubt many care.

The electorate has got to realise that if you do not do politics, politics will inevitably be done to you.

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