Getting it right after exhausting all the alternatives

There is a striking article here by the editor of the ‘Spectator’ – that’s the current one, rather than the former one and current Prime Minister.

Entitled “Sajid Javid: it’s time to tear up the old investment rules”, the piece ascertains, as though in a blinding revelation:

With government able to borrow at 0.8 per cent and inflation higher at 1.5 per cent, then the real-terms interest rate is negative (ie, minus 0.7 per cent). Minus anything means that, in real terms, you’re being paid to borrow

This has of course been the case for the last decade, and the only things stopping investment were George Osborne’s and Phillip Hammond’s policies on austerity. Javid was a banker of course, though as he was employed by Deutsche Bank, a bank that is still not out of its financial difficulties, themselves in large part created by the Collateralised Debt Obligations that Javid sold, you might be forgiven for thinking that his skills as (what the article genteely refers to) a “former financier” are unlikely to suggest someone who has the country’s, rather than his own, best interests at heart.

The Spectator goes on to quote Javid, ” But now I have the privilege of being in charge of the Treasury, we’ve already started making changes to [Treasury] models. To allow for what is, I think, a unique situation in terms of government investment.’

It’s only unique in that it’s been the case for all of the last decade when the Conservatives have been in power – they have slashed and burned and now they are building up again. Just because they can. To blame the Treasury civil service as if they had no political control at their head is remarkably disingenuous.

That the media don’t question this means the media are either stupid or partisan.

And in either case this conclusion from Professor Ronan McCrea on the dangers of viewing a democratic vote as similar to purchasing a service – an idea that Conservatism since Thatcher has generally been all too keen to emphasise, seems particularly appropriate:

Unless the electorate can find ways of informing themselves – and this, it has to be said is not always easy with the usually preoccupied voter, then we will continue to have to put up with this political incompetence.

The only thing that can be said is that in this limited area at least, as Churchill might have put it, they have chosen the right policy only after exhausting all the alternatives.


  1. Andrew Dickie -

    Peter, I fear we are seeing Johnson’s Tories starting to change tack completely, and simply erase from history the cruel stupidity of the last, wasted, decade of politically motivated, and entirely unnecessary austerity, and instead become the “Workers’ Party” by implementing Corbynism, without Corbyn.

    This FT article
    suggests Corbyn’s ideas DID win the argument, and so the Tories may genuinely do what Corbyn and Labour would have done.

    It’s been done before, e.g. by Harold
    Macmillan in the late 50’s, after the potential annihilation of the Tories, post-Suez, to “You’ve Never Had It So Good” – built on the hard financial lifting of the Attlee Governments.

    Frankly, the shrewdest political move for Johnson to make would be to do just that – to become a genuine “One Nation” Conservative, and implement Corbynism without Corbyn, and thus lock in the working class vote for a generation, leaving Labour to shrivel, as did the old Liberal Party, which went from Colossus to a tea party between 1900 and 1925

    1. Peter May -

      If it is Corbynism I shall certainly be delighted! But so far all I have seeen suggested would be very much Corbyn lite – there are no moves to get rid of foodbanks for example or by more than seemingly token gestures towards building more social housing.
      I still think that the youth vote is largely Labour so I would have thought that as the elderly drop off their perches they’ll have trouble in locking Labour out for any lengthy period. And I wonder who the working class is now?

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