...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 3670: "An extremely simplistic and partisan economics lesson"


Well, judging by the comments on Sunday's diary, SOMEONE got out of bed on the wrong side that (2am in the) morning!

Dear Mr "economist"

You've created a blank blogger profile and a blank blog so we can't tell anything about you. Let's assume that you are NOT the magazine of the same name.

Partisan? I'm responding to a comment from the Labour Leader: agree with him or disagree with him, it's difficult NOT to be partisan.

And simplistic? You don't say where I've oversimplified; you just assert that I'm wrong.

Perhaps you are referring to your own reply?

An unbiased reader will notice that I pointed out the ways in which Mr Ed was right; that I gave credit to Hard Labour for paying down debt in their first term; and I pointed out that the Coalition's own growth plans are far from a dead cert. Surely less partisan than someone saying: "the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats I think are pedalling a very dangerous myth".

("pedalling," says Daddy Alex, "whoops! I should have caught that. That's spelling's an economic bicycle; you want selling, which is PEDDLING."

"Ah," says elephant, "but that's a copy & paste from Mr Marrmite's website, so it's a subeditor at the BBC who is to blame for once, and not me!")

I could go through all the things you say with a point-by-point rebuttal. In fact I have.

But it's very BORING, probably POINTLESS and I do get increasingly tired of shooting down ZOMBIE ARGUMENTS about Lib Dem manifestos (they're fully costed) and tuition fees (rubbish, as I've said before in just the way a partisan blogger wouldn't, but better than what Labour would have delivered).

So I'm going to BEGIN with just two points that I've chosen because they are particularly EGREGIOUS ones that illustrate where Labour's answers are fundamentally WRONG, MISGUIDED or MISLEADING.

And after that we'll do the full fisking.

Here we go:


We have a "structural" part to the deficit because economists are guessing that around 5% of our trend growth has been destroyed by the financial crash. If we were to have an economic boom with above trend growth we could close the deficit without doing a thing.


Loss of revenue due to the financial downturn is the CYCLICAL part of the deficit (i.e. the bit that comes and goes); the STRUCTURAL deficit is the excess of spending over receipts if you discount extra money in in boom years or extra money out in lean years.

The fact that spending exceeded income IN A BOOM shows that our STRUCTURAL deficit is VAST, far larger than the 2% of GDP we had to borrow. The full extent of Labour's overspending was being DISGUISED by the extra revenues from boom-time profits.

(I am, by the way, doing you the service of assuming that you mean: "We have a "structural" part to the deficit because our trend growth has been destroyed by the financial crash by, economists are guessing, around 5%" rather than what you have written which is that "economists guessing" is the cause of the ""structural" part to the deficit".

Sorry to be picky about grammar, but I want to be accurate about what I'm replying to.)

It is, frankly, TERRIFYING that you can even think the idea that another boom would "close the deficit without doing anything". This is the sticking your fingers in your ears and singing lalala approach to sound finance.

There is NO school of economics – not classical, not Keynesian, not monetarist, not laissez-faire, not voodoo Reganomics – that subscribes to the theory that you can run a deficit forever. The suggestion by Ed Balls – yes, I realise he is not Labour's Shadow Chancellor; he's still a very senior figure – during the leadership election that nothing needed to be done about the deficit was beyond appalling and verging on criminal: theft from our children. And you say that the Coalition has burdened the next generation with tuition fees!


And you're forgetting there are two sides to a balance sheet
I'll say it again, there are two sides to a balance sheet.

Jargon. People use it to put a barrier between themselves and the reader, to shortcut the argument by implying they know more or better. It's a fallacy, called the "Argument from Authority". Unfortunately for you, I DO know what a balance sheet is and how it works.

So there are two possibilities here: either you DON'T know what you are talking about and are parroting lines that you have heard elsewhere or you DO know what you are talking about and know that it is NONSENSE.

To answer the point: yes, a balance sheet has two sides: assets and liabilities. But it is NOT TRUE that every transaction is "increase in creditors = increase in assets".

In fact MOST transactions are "increase in creditors = increase in EXPENSES": salaries, repairs, energy and fuel costs, wasting assets (or their depreciation) all of these are essentially money "used up", not money invested. And, I'm obliged to remind you, illegal wars in the Middle East are also money "used up".

Repairs to the swimming pool, or doctors' salaries, or winter fuel payments are good things, but they are NOT assets on the asset side of the balance sheet. With the best will in the world, you cannot use the repairs to your swimming pool to repay the National Debt and it is either stupid or deceitful to imply otherwise, as you did.

It's particularly telling that you ask: "And where would have found 2% of GDP to invest in that infrastructure?" as though the only possible alternatives are "run a deficit" or "spend nothing on infrastructure". Spend less on infrastructure. Spend less on something else and spend the same – or more! – on infrastructure. Raise more tax. There are many other alternatives.

It's a cliché, but to govern is to choose. Repair swimming pools; increase NHS consultants' salaries; expand the security services; employ more bureaucrats to administer targets in schools and hospitals and police forces; set up an NHS database; a DNA database; a database of children; an I.D.iot card database; wage a war in Iraq. Labour chose to do ALL of these things, some good, some bad, some very bad indeed.

A further irony, of course, is that much of Labour's spending on physical assets, what you call "investments" – hospital buildings, new schools, the tube upgrades and so on – were under PPP or PFI schemes which are notoriously "off-balance sheet financing" (sometimes called "Enron accounting"); that is, the asset is actually bought by a private company and leased to the Government so that the borrowing incurred is not included in the Net Government Debt, but the taxpayer is stiffed with the obligation to keep paying, often more than (some say many times more than) the cost of building the asset would have been even if the Labour Government had borrowed commercially to do so.

Matching future use against expenditure to pay for that use is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. But Labour's contracts were on the whole bad and have lumbered us with excessive payments even if the asset ceases to be of use.

The word "investment" when referring to Labour spending, used because although not strictly accurate – some spending really is just spending – it sounds better, is typical of the language of SPIN.

It's of a piece with referring to your opponents' opinion as "myth"; I note that you use the term yourself to refer to Captain Clegg's line and to backhandedly imply that my opinion is just another myth.

This belittling of the opposing view – like calling my diary "simplistic" and "childish" – serves you badly.

Now, my LEGAL advisors are divided between "don't feed the troll" and "if you say you can answer point for point you need to prove it". So the following is at your own risk:

"the REAL complaint is that Hard Labour were borrowing YEAR IN, YEAR OUT throughout the BOOM years while the economy was growing and NEVER PAYING ANY BACK."

You'd better email Clegg and tell him that…

And what makes you think that I haven't?

…because that isn't the myth he is peddling.

I note the backhanded way that you imply that what I'm saying is merely a DIFFERENT myth.

The size of the national debt relative to GDP is not an issue

It really, really is.

Part of the point of my little history lesson was to point out that there is a crude correlation between the times when the National Debt rises about 40% of GDP and the times when the economy goes to hell in a handcart. When we paid the debt down it preceded a period of growth.

Almost all western countries are facing increased national debts because of deficits resulting from the financial crash.

And most of them are in serious difficulty because of it. I don't need to cite Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, because the most obvious example is AMERICA, where people are beginning to consider quietly but seriously the possibility that they might actually run out of credit.

Under Labour's deficit reduction plan net debt would have stabilized around 70% of GDP. As it will under the coalition's plan if their predictions are right.

"Stabilized" is a really worrying term. It makes it sound like you think it's going to STAY there. AS though balancing on a pinnacle of debt is in any way a "stable" position to maintain.

Under the Coalition plan, the public sector debt should PEAK (not STABILISE) at 69.7% of GDP then fall to 68.8% (and continue to fall to 67.2% in 2015/16).

The reason the plan only lasts five years is because it is a plan for a five-year Parliament.

At the end of that time, we hope that we will bring the DEFICIT down to zero. At the end of that time we will only START to be in a position to bring the DEBT down.

Beyond that point, in the next Parliament, I would want us to run SURPLUSES to PAY DOWN THE DEBT. But I'm not the Chancer of the Exchequer, so I can't say that's the plan. And more importantly, the British Public will get to have their say over whether we do that or not. I hope we can convince them of the need to do so, and I fear the sort of BLETHER that Labour puts out saying none of this is necessary.

Labour's plan, I have to remind you again, would STILL be ADDING debt to the debt mountain at the end of those five years. That's NOT stable either, unless you are privy to some unreleased plans of the Shadow Chancer's that you might care to share with us.

"But then from 2001 they spent more than they raised in taxes. Yes, I know I'm repeating myself but it's the MOST VITAL point. They spent more than they raised in taxes."

Labour were perfectly open about doing this and your party supported it.

Well… to a certain extent.

At the end of the previous Conservatory Government, both Liberal Democrats and Labour were in agreement that the public services had been underfunded for many years and needed large spending increases, particularly in the areas of salaries for nurses and teachers and of repairs to buildings.

For the 1997 to 2001 Parliament, Labour stuck to the spending plans that the Conservatories had prepared when Chancellor Fatty Clarke needed to draw up a plan to show that the country really could repay the borrowing HE was running up (the at-the-time-frightening jump to 42.5% of GDP, oh the naiveté of those heady days). Even the Conservatories didn't expect to stick to them.

Labour stuck to those plans rigidly for – beg pardon – IDEOLOGICAL reasons (they wanted to prove they were not a tax-and-spend party), while the Liberal Democrats were actually advocating pulling out of the Conservatory spending plans EARLIER.

Post 2001, we argued the case for SPECIFIC spending increases matched by SPECIFIC tax rises.

(For example, our 2001 manifesto repeated the 1p on Income Tax for education; or, from 2005, the 50p top rate to cut council tax and abolish tuition fees. You'll notice that Labour actually nicked both tax raising ideas but not the spending commitments that went with.)

But that does not mean we agreed with ALL of Labour's spending increases. There were a number of BIG TICKET items which we were very much against: more prisons, more targeting and testing, more databases. And a couple of REALLY BIG TICKET items which we opposed very loudly: the "War on Terror" and subsequent invasion of Iraq.

So it's very much NOT true to say we supported Labour's spending increases. We would have spent more in some areas, but not the SAME and not necessarily so MUCH more overall.

Would a lib dem government since 97 have run surpluses and paid down the national debt?"

We would certainly have done as Labour did and run a small deficit in 1997/98 and a surplus in 1998/99.

Pulling out of the Conservatory spending plans would have meant running SMALLER surpluses in 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 than Labour and so paying down less debt than Labour.

But – we argued at the time – pulling out earlier would also result in a smaller correction for reinvestment. A less steep increase in spending would, I should have hoped, result in us not shooting well over the top, and restrained ourselves from borrowing during the boom.

Of course it is EASY to say with HINDSIGHT that we would not have made Labour's mistakes, but this does have the benefit of at least matching what our economic spokespeople were actually saying.

Well, your manifestos contained greater spending commitments in 97, 01 and 05 without the necessary tax increases to cover.

I'm afraid that's just NOT TRUE.

Each of those manifestos (and the 2010 one as well) included full costings as an appendix, explaining how each increase in spending was paid for by a raise in tax or a cut in spending elsewhere. Something the Labour Party conspicuously did not do. (The Conservative Party neither, for that matter.)

I repeat the most obvious example being the 1p on income tax to pay for education in the 1997 Manifesto and again in 2001. Labour campaigned against that. And then put 1p on National Insurance anyway.

And you're forgetting there are two sides to a balance sheet

As I say above: I'm really not.

Labour only spent that borrowed money on capital projects

The figures simply do not substantiate that.

Labour's budgets were running a deficit on the CURRENT spending and then spending the capital spending ON TOP.

And then lumbered us with EVEN MORE off-balance sheet debt by devising an insanely expensive PFI system that we will be paying off virtually forever!

Even if there was NO capital "investment" AT ALL, you would STILL have been pushing up borrowing.

Don't take my word for it: go and check the public finance figures – the current spending surplus is NEGATIVE for EVERY YEAR from 2002/03 onwards.

But even if it were the case that current spending was within the tax receipts but current plus capital spending pushed it over the top you cannot hypothecate the borrowing ONLY to the capital budget.

You could just as equally say that all the CAPITAL spend was entirely covered by tax receipts and it was the CURRENT spending that you had to borrow to cover.

Cash Out = Current Spend + Capital Spend
Cash In = Tax revenue + borrowing

But that does NOT mean Current Spend = Tax Revenue nor Capital Spend = Borrowing

That's like saying 5 + 4 = 9 and 6 + 3 = 9 so 5 = 6 and 4 = 3.

Labour's CURRENT account spending was too high so they could not afford their capital spending. But they went ahead and spent it ANYWAY.

And what did they spend it on? Ah yes…

It paid for the infrastructure that had been neglected by the tories for 18 years.

And indeed by Labour for a further four years.

Those capital projects are an investment that will provide economic and social benefits for decades…

Economic benefits are measurable. So measure them: what are the RETURNS that we can expect from Labour's spending?

I'm not denying that there ARE benefits from some of Labour's spending. We've already established that the Liberal Democrats SUPPORTED more spending in 1997, and later. Housing, power stations, transport links, roads even: they can lead to economic growth that provides opportunities and lifts people out of poverty.

I'm not going to deny social benefits either. Better health and education lead to a happier and more cohesive society where individuals and families can prosper. Entertainment – theatre, sport, films, the BBC – these help draw the nation together, challenge us with new ideas, encourage us to better ourselves. They're all good things.

But, as Captain Clegg is fond of saying: you can do a lot of good with six hundred billion pounds. So why did you need to spend seven hundred and fifty billion?

The burden is on you to demonstrate that every overspent penny was spent well and will do good.

I'm also, incidentally, interested in your boast of "lasting for decades". Apparently eighteen years of Conservatory Government is enough to annihilate any economic or social infrastructure. That's not even TWO decades. So are you overstating how BAD a Conservatory Government is or overstating how good Labour's achievements are? It's one or the other.

… and it is not burdening the next generation to ask them to contribute to infrastructure that they will use

There IS a case to be made for that, but you'll need to do the work to prove it, not just airily summon a justification out of the air. Do the useful lives of the assets match the repayment period of the loans? Would there be an equivalent commercially available alternative and if so would it genuinely be more expensive and if not how do you estimate the real terms value of the service? Is the infrastructure actually what people want?

But let's be honest, Labour DIDN'T just build "useful things" did they.

There are several examples of VASTLY expensive capital projects that provide little or no benefit to the taxpayer now or in the future. There are hospital buildings being paid for under PFI which are empty because they are not fit for purpose but we cannot get out of the contracts – best practice suggests smaller, more local hospital services, but Labour built large buildings because, er, they're impressive?. There are a couple of AIRCRAFT CARRIERS that we are going to have to build. And no matter what Ed Balls may say, there was no need beyond his personal vanity for Building Schools for the Future to rebuild EVERY SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY.

Even Labour's CAPITAL budgets were WELL overspent and they DID "burden the next generation" with a load of infrastructure that is often WORSE THAN USELESS.

Hell, your party just burdened the next generation with ~£50,000 of personal debt at commercial interest rates!!!

Firstly, at most £9000 x 3 = £27,000 not £50,000; learn some maths.

In fact, the cap is set at £6000, and in itself that is an additional £3000 only on top of what Labour were ALREADY CHARGING; what about accommodation and food – again, Labour were ALREADY CHARGING that, and in fact we've introduced BETTER maintenance grants so we've REDUCED what Labour were charging for living.

So the ADDITIONAL COST should be considered as £3000 x 3 = £9000 or at most £6000 x 3 = £18,000.

If the burden of student debt is £50,000, then LABOUR ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR £32,000 OF IT.

Secondly, the Labour Party, who INTRODUCED tuition fees, breaking a manifesto pledge not to, commissioned the Browne Report with a view to an UNLIMITED cap. We capped fees at £6000, with a maximum of £9000. Are tuition fees good? No. Are they better under this scheme than they would have been under Labour (or frankly the Conservatories)? Hell yes.

Your party – you defend the Labour leader, you're a Labour supporter – your Party burdened the next generation with MORE personal debt than mine did. And your Party would have burdened the next generation EVEN MORE on top.

Finally, as you asked me something similar earlier, have you checked with your leader what his position is, 'cos he favours a graduate tax or "infinite tuition fees" (you never pay them off) and it'd be nice to know if they're going to be the same amount as the loan repayment (in which case, what's the difference and why's he claiming there is one) or if they're going to be lower (in which case where's he going to get the rest of the money from – because surely he wouldn't give LESS to universities; that would be "cultural vandalism").

Are you arguing that before Labour spent any money it should have paid the debt down to nothing?

Clearly not. I am saying you should not have been paying out more than you got in during a boom: clearly that is unsustainable.

If so, were you arguing it at the time?

Obviously not, since that's not what I'm arguing. However, if you mean "were you arguing against overspending at the time", you can find speeches from Vince Cable going back to 2003 warning against increasing debt. So not only were you overspending, but people DID notice – so much for Mr Potato Ed's denials.

And where would have found 2% of GDP to invest in that infrastructure?

We would not have invaded Iraq. That's a billion pounds a month to spend on swimming pools right there.

But I don't accept the premise that you can only invest in infrastructure by running a deficit. To govern is to choose – but you chose to have your cake and eat it.

"But then the Labour Government's OTHER policy – of being intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich – led to the casino banking disaster and all bets were off."

Light touch regulation was/is a disaster. What extra financial regulations has coalitions implemented so far to stop another banking crisis?

How very ON-MESSAGE of you: this week we're admitting to letting the banks get out of control, aren't we.

Since you ask: the Coalition has brought all the regulation together under the Bank of England to avoid the lapses caused by things falling into the gaps between the FSA, the Treasury and the Bank. We've giving the Bank additional regulatory powers on top and are increasing the disclosure requirement.

We've implemented the Bank Levy – something Labour said was impossible – which will raise more than nine billion over the course of the Parliament. We did not reintroduce Labour's one-off bonus tax because it raised less than Labour said it would and because the banks had put measures in place to avoid it. Even Mr Alistair Dalek the former Labour Chancer said that the bonus tax would only work for one year.

And Mr Dr Vince is currently leading the negotiations with the banks to regulate bonuses AND increase much-needed lending to business (so-called "Project Merlin").

I know you like to THINK that we're in the pockets of the bankers and letting them get away with it, but that was the last lot, I'm afraid: that was Labour.

"But how does "economic growth" work? Well, if GDP is more next year than it was this year, then you can borrow the same amount in cash terms and it will be a smaller PERCENTAGE of the GDP.

In other words, you've not really FIXED the problem; you've just used INFLATION to make it look smaller"

Nope, you're way off mark here. Economic growth means increases in tax receipts for the government…

Which, of course, I actually say. Thank you for agreeing with me.

However, the Labour leader specified "tax receipts" and "economic growth" as two DIFFERENT ways to close the deficit. Your "explanation" merely reiterates what I say when I show this is nonsense.

…which closes the cyclic part of the deficit.

You see, you get this RIGHT here; and then contradict yourself two lines later.

Osborne is banking on increased economic growth to help close the deficit.

Yes, of course he is. So are you.

Although your Mr Ed says: "economic growth - and that's the thing they're leaving out of the account here".

Maybe you need to e-mail him and set him straight about that too.

We have a "structural" part to the deficit because economists are guessing that around 5% of our trend growth has been destroyed by the financial crash. If we were to have an economic boom with above trend growth we could close the deficit without doing a thing.

I've said it above but EEEEEEK!

And again, first you say economic growth closes the cyclical deficit; now you say the economic crash caused the structural deficit. For the record, it's the former that is correct.

I'll say it again, there are two sides to a balance sheet.

And I'll say it again: SPENDING does not go to the ASSET side of the balance sheet

So, bad luck trying to blind the reader with jargon – I'm afraid I know what I'm talking about and you clearly don't.

Ed isn't arguing to never reduce the deficit or pay down the national debt

Your double negative does not make a positive.

Mr Potato Ed's stated position is only to HALVE the deficit. That means continuing to increase the debt. Anything else I'm afraid, is along the lines of his conveniently-discovered-many-years-after-the-fact opposition to the Iraq war – he's not TOLD anyone about it.

He is arguing for a slower pace which would lessen the deflationary impact on the economy…

Again that's not a slower pace to repaying the debts run up by the Government he was a part of. That's a slower pace to STILL ADDING TO THE DEBT.

And by the by, the economy is currently suffering from INFLATION, not helped by Labour allowing the pound to devalue; deflationary pressures will actually contribute to containing that.

lessen the social impact (which is going to be huge particularly for those reliant on social services like my sister)

And like my Daddy Alex and like Daddy Richard's mum and dad. They all support the Coalition's efforts to control the national debt because they'd rather get the pain over now than have to carry if forever. You see, I can use the "appeal to sympathy" fallacy right back at you.

But Labour's record on "social impact" – the worst social mobility since the VICTORIAN ERA – is hardly something to trumpet.

Most of the Labour Government's efforts – tax credits mainly – were aimed at the people just slightly below the poverty line, so they could fiddle the statistics while abandoning people in real need to despair.

Labour papered over the cracks in society with candy coloured paper and left it to fester.

The Liberal Democrats insisted on the pupil premium as a first step to genuinely helping people achieve social mobility; and we implemented a tax cut for basic rate taxpayers (fully supported by the Conservatories) to reward working; and we're backing Mr Drunken-Swerve's benefit reforms in order to help people overcome poverty, not gloss over poverty with handouts and credits.

and raise taxes through progressive taxation rather than regressive taxation (i.e. VAT).

Well, by "progressive taxation" you mean "though the backdoor tax of national insurance" (with the hidden increase of the employer's NI on top of the income tax-a-like employees' rise).

Here it's YOU being simplistic. The IFS have said that a VAT rise is surprisingly NOT regressive. I'm not sure that I agree, but that needs to be taken into account. And the impact of NI rise on jobs versus the effect of the VAT rise on jobs is disputed.

My stated preference – which is NOT Coalition policy – remains to raise INCOME TAX. Because it is honest and obvious as well as progressive, and it is easier to REVERSE later.

At the General Election, the Liberal Democrats' manifesto – unlike Labour's – proposed several progressive tax changes, including: a Mansion Tax on multi-million-pound homes; taking the poorest out of tax altogether (when Labour regressively doubled their tax rate); and increasing Capital Gains Tax for the richest (which Labour regressively cut so they could comfortably get filthy rich).

However, as minority partners in the Coalition, we have had to accept that the Conservatives prefer to raise VAT. In return, they have made several major concessions to us, not least on Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax (which they abandoned as a compromise for us dropping our directly opposite Mansion Tax proposal).

The balance of taxes is one area where I disagree with Labour AND Coalition. So do a LOT of Liberal Democrats. But that's only to be expected. We didn't win the election – so we didn't get to do everything we wanted to do. A COALITION is bound to do only SOME of what we would have done if there was a Liberal Democrat majority.

And while we're at it, what is so PROGRESSIVE about giving more, and more, and more money to the bankers? Labour BLAMES the banks for the economic collapse… so why do they want to keep REWARDING them with more and more and yet more interest?

Labour's plan would involve harsh cuts but not as harsh as the coalitions at the cost of incurring a bit extra in debt interest payments.

Labour's plan would NOT solve the problem. Half a deficit is STILL a deficit.

That means the total DEBT would only continue to grow. You will never pay it off.

Until you and your Party get this into your heads you will never deserve to recover your reputation for economic competence.

And that's where I think I came in!

The IMF estimates Britain could increase debt to GDP to 150%.

And do they say that as a positive or as a worst case scenario?

I will repeat: historically, for Great Britain a level of debt of 30% to 40% has been seen as sustainable. You haven't disproved that, or even disputed it.

But that is not what Ed is arguing for…

Well thank goodness for that! Labour Leader not calling for Britain to reach Third World levels of debt, shock non-story!

The press is FULL of things that Mr Ed is NOT calling for: he's not calling for tuition fees (even though Labour did at the election), he's not calling for VAT to go up (even though before the election Mr Alistair Dalek was secretly planning to).

If it's not too much to ask, could we have some clarity on what he WILL call for?

…and at no stage under the Labour government or the past 8 months was the UK in danger of a sovereign debt crisis.

It was, you know.

I mean, assuming you've actually talked to people in the City, people in the know, then you would know that they were INCREDIBLY nervous and the main worry was that Britain rather than Ireland would be next after Greece. The speed of the Coalition agreement and then the emergency budget were the main things that allayed those fears (helped, I will add, by stronger than expected growth for which Labour deserve some credit).

But you REALLY cannot claim credit for the eight months after the Coalition took over, can you.

But, hey, you carry on with the misinformation…

I will leave that to you.

and childish name calling.

Oh you don't like the NAME CALLING!

(Pity that goes against the evidence of your own writing.)

But EVERYONE gets called silly names here: I'm a stuffed elephant; the Prime Monster is a balloon; the leader of the Liberal Democrats is a pirate. It's hardly the most SOPHISTICATED satire in the World.

I call the Labour Leader "Mr Potato Ed" because he's a synthetic vegetable with a random collection of replaceable plastic expressions pinned to the outside, as demonstrated most recently by his new "mistakes were made" furrowed brow and "wooing the Lib Dems" lips.

But if you don't like name-calling then you shouldn't resort to the even-more-childish line:

Oh and helping the tories finish off what they started in 1979.

That hasn't been original since "Not the Nine O'Clock News" did it in, ooh, 1980?

And after three long comments that were very short on facts it makes you look a bit, well, partisan. And simplistic.

So, honour defended, maybe next time I can write about how it would be nice to have a SENSIBLE conversation with Hard Labour.

I can wish!


Richard Gadsden said...

There is NO school of economics – not classical, not Keynesian, not monetarist, not laissez-faire, not voodoo Reganomics – that subscribes to the theory that you can run a deficit forever.

There was one that said a king could borrow as much money as he wanted and never pay it back. The king involved was Philip II of Spain.

Of course, the reason he didn't pay it back was that he borrowed it from Jews and then told the Spanish Inquisition to go and surprise them when they asked for their money back.

He still ended up defaulting four times. In spite of all the gold and silver mines in America (no, not Americaland, the other bit) that his conquistadors had taken over for him - so much gold and silver that importing it was causing inflation right across Europe.

Millennium Dome said...

Dear Mr Gladstone,

I think that there is a "History of the World in 100 Objects" about that!

Though to be honest, I am just AMAZED that anyone managed to read that diary all the way through!