...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 3001: Mr Balloon's Sorry Policy


Even before the weekend's slightly public SPAT between Mr Ken "Fat Duck" Clarke and Mr Gideon "Tuck Shop" Oboe (over whether spending three billion quid on a bung for DEAD MILLIONAIRES was their most completely useful and important spending priority) it was dawning on people that Conservatory tax policy didn't make any sense.

If the GOOD times mean we get to "share the proceeds of growth", Mr Balloon and Mr Oboe seemed unusually RETICENT about admitting that the BAD times mean "sharing the PAIN of recession".

The Conservatories are caught in a CLEFT STICK. On the one fluffy foot, it is PAINFULLY OBVIOUS to everyone in the country how they FAILED to see the banking crisis and the recession bearing down on them like a cartload of manure labelled "DOOM!" But on the other fluffy foot they have absolutely no idea how you run an economy even when the wheels HAVEN'T fallen off.

Writing a typically BREEZY piece for the Windypendant, Mr Balloon put it like this:
"In the long term, we will control spending by reducing the demands that the broken society makes on the state… That's why far from retreating from our plans for school reform, welfare reform and strengthening families, we are as committed to them as we have ever been."
So, essentially, Mr Balloon's position reduces to "things have CHANGED MASSIVELY; that's why we're going to EXACTLY THE SAME as we said before."

This is not just economic illiteracy, this is MADNESS.

Patching together a couple of soundbites that are simple enough for Mr Oboe to remember them together with a figleaf of a Daily Hate Mail-pleasing tax cut is EMBARRASSING when the finances are SOUND; in the depths of a crisis it looks INSANELY DANGEROUS.

Mr Oboe himself slipped over the wall behind the bike-sheds again over the weekend, only to be caught on the The Today Programme by economic super-guru Mr Evan Davis.

"I get bombarded by paper planes from your desk with press releases scrawled on them," said Mr Evan, "and they're all pretty negative about the Government having done this wrong and made that mistake… do you actually HAVE any plans of your own?"

"Oh yes!" said Mr Oboe. "Everything's going to be lovely. That's MY plan!"

"But how are you going to pay back all of this debt? Won't you have to cut spending?"

"Don't ask me about THAT! I'm copying my answer from Fatty Clarke and he's not finished thinking it up yet!"

The Conservatories claim that they want some HONESTY about the economy. Well, they could START by being honest THEMSELVES. For example, less of this "we left Mr Frown a golden legacy" when in actual fact, they did EXACTLY the same as he is doing: borrowed a mountain of debt and came up with unbelievable made-up spending plans… which to everyone's HORROR, Mr Frown actually followed for five years until the debt was paid off. THAT was "fixing the roof while the sun shone"; and remember, it was the Conservatories who blew the roof off in the first place.

Mr Frown was saved by three pieces of luck: a windfall tax; a raid on the pensions (from which they've never recovered); and auctioning off the 3G telephone licences for so much money that is caused the dot-com crash. Where does Mr Oboe (Fatty Clarke!) say that THEIR luck is going to come from?

It is NO BALLY USE the Conservatories issuing self-serving mealy-mouthed APOLOGIES for "not warning enough about the dangers of light-touch regulation and borrowing"; they were not warning AT ALL about borrowing, and everyone knows they were positively pressing for MORE light-touch regulation (aka light-THE-BLUE-TOUCHPAPER regulation) not less!

An apology requires saying what you got WRONG and then saying what you are going to CHANGE to put it RIGHT.

Saying "we're going to do just the same" means the Conservatories may be a SORRY BUNCH but they aren't ANY kind of sorry for their part in this DISASTER.

And then Mr Balloon was back with a fresh bout of "THE SAME BUT MORE SO!" in the Spectacularlyrightwing , launching his new wheeze: "the post-bureaucratic age".

Because everyone knows that the BANKERS would have been FINE if they hadn't had all those BUREAUCRATS holding them back and trying to, you know, REGULATE them and stuff.

Anyway, it's REALLY important to him. You can tell because it's a short article and he mentions it nine times in seventeen parpagraphs.

He's not TERRIBLY big on detail, of course. I mean he spends the whole first page TELLING us he's had a brilliant idea. Again.

Then he spends the whole second page telling us why only Conservatories HAVE brilliant ideas. And by the way, isn't the Internet WHIZZY!

And his third page is how Hard Labour have failed to improve social mobility and failed to clean up the environment.

And his fourth page says "…so there you have it!"

Hmmm, I think the DOG may have eaten some of his HOMEWORK…

So, Mr Balloon's FAIRY-TALE vision is of a society where modern technology MAGICALLY means that everyone is WELL-INFORMED and EMPOWERED to make their own decisions. Quite how everyone GETS this information WITHOUT an army of bureaucrats to collect, sort, input and maintain it all seems to have been trimmed for space. Quite how "modern technology" does NOT mean yet another MASSIVE, EXPENSIVE, and ultimately FUTILE Government IT programme seems not to have made the cut either.

Mind you, he did find room to try and recapture the spirit of his old near-forgotten "Let the Sun Shine In" days:
"While those on the political Left are essentially pessimists, believing that people will do the wrong thing unless told what to do by government, we on the centre-Right are optimists: we have faith that most people are good and will do the right thing if only you trust them"
Oh, I SEE!

THAT is why the Conservatories want to lay out rigidly defined rules with which local government must comply if they are to receive CENTRALLY-DICTATED support for freezing their council tax – or else punitive local tax rises will soon see them kicked out or the ungrateful locals reduced to beggary.

THAT is why the Conservatories intend to BRIBE people to stay in loveless marriages – they TRUST that GREED and a few quid will work like a sticking plaster and they don't trust that people know whether staying married is right for them.

And THAT is why the Conservatories keep banging on and on and on about BROKEN BRITAIN, because only their NATURAL OPTIMISM enables them to see a knife-wielding hoodie lurking in every doorway or a binge-drinking benefit scrounger collapsed on every village green. If only they could liberate these people to behave the way MR BALLOON THINKS THEY OUGHT TO!

Mr Balloon is talking total bollards! Conservatism has always, always, ALWAYS been fearful of human nature! Was it not Mr Gladstone, the Prime Monster who invented the BAG, who once said:
"The principle of LIBERALISM is trust in the people, tempered by prudence;
"The principle of Conervatoryism is MISTRUST of the people, tempered by FEAR.
Finally, Mr Balloon links his two thoughts in one sentence that GIVES HIMSELF AWAY:
"Just giving people more information, more power and more control over their lives makes them more responsible."
Responsible TO WHOM?

Responsible to THEMSELVES? Or to Mr Balloon and his ideas of right and wrong, of right and responsibility?

Because we KNOW that Mr Balloon believes you should take away the "rights" of people he says don’t behave "responsibly" – you know, those who are irresponsibly too sick to work, or irresponsibly too poor to live in the right catchment area.

Mr Balloon, you give power BACK to the people to make THE GOVERNMENT more responsible – and more responsive – to THEM. NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

It's all too clear that Mr Balloon cannot get out of the old AUTHORITARIAN mindset. He JUST DOES NOT GET IT.

In his mind, Conservatory AUTHORITARIANISM is the opposite of Hard Labour AUTHORITARIANISM. In REALITY they are just two sides of the same BLUDGEON.

Because basically the Conservatories are JUST THE SAME as Hard Labour. And how can you trust people like THAT with the economy… again?

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Costigan Quist said...

Not convinced you can pin the blame for the dot-com crash on the 3G auction...not convinced at all.

Good stuff though - you're right: the words coming out of Cameron's mouth sound oh so lovely and liberal but the policies (such as they are) tell a different story.

Joe Otten said...

Wow, it is one thing to claim that society is broken, but claiming you can fix it too?!???

Wow, it is one thing to fix a broken society, but to bank the cash savings that result in advance as a cornerstone of your economic policy??!???!?

My little brother's political analysis could have been summarised as "the system is the problem and once we have socialism everything will be alright". Are the Tories now adopting the same shallowness, with slightly different labels?