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Cameron and Osborne should heed Alistair Darling’s advice

Posted on 28 April 2012 | 5:04pm

I don’t suppose the two arrogant unapologetic posh boys who don’t know the price of milk (copyright Nadine Dorries) would ever listen to Alistair Darling. But they could do worse.

Writing in the FT today, Labour’s last Chancellor sets out his ideas for how his successor George Osborne might get the economy going, including investment in major infrarstructure projects, and more quantitative easing.

Alistair, who was on good form when we spoke together at a Labour dinner in Edinburgh last weekend, has a fair amount of cred in this area, having been the first to signal just how had the global financial crisis was likely to be, and having made a pretty good fist of things when it came.

As he points out today, when the coalition government was formed, the economy was growing, in large part because of the stimulus put in place in 2008. The government, unlike so many others, went into reverse on the policies that were delivering the admittedly weak growth. They had a political strategy – blame Labour for the mess – which they used as cover for their economic strategy – cuts and austerity. The two combined in what Alistair rightly calls ‘mendacious claims to gain support for its determination to cut the structural deficit by the end of the Parliament.’ These included comparisons with Greece, and bogus claims about the country’s creditworthiness. ‘It undermined confidence, which has never really returned.’

There were many voices warning them that the political strategy was likely to have a detrimental impact on the economic strategy, in that the one had a negative impact on the confidence required to deliver the second. But the honeymoon was in full swing, they were getting the benefit of the doubt, they were loving being in office, and there was no legitimate worldview but their own.

The view was clear – they would slash the public sector to get the deficit under control, and the private sector would fill the jobs gap. It hasn’t happened. Nor is their deficit reduction over the course of a Parliament going to happen. They are borrowing 150 billion pounds more than planned. Unemployment among young people in particular is reaching crisis levels and they have neither the will nor the plan to do much about it. And now the double dip recession they said would never happen has come.

The crisis came on Labour’s watch. But thinking about how Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling handled that, and comparing it with how Nadine’s posh boys are doing, then I doubt I am alone in thinking the country would have felt more confident in Labour hands.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Double-dip recession has completely changed the political landscape in Britain.
    Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, social democrats, have been proved right. Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Blairites wrong.
    Back in 2010 the choice was between Alistair Darling´s plan to halve the deficit in five years without risking the recovery and Osborne´s reckless gamble.
    Mr Osborne compared Britain to Greece. Britain´s debt was 53.5% of GDP, Greece´s 120%.
    Bond markets in Britain were not panicking.
    Mr Osborne claimed that Britain was bankrupt, but it had its own currency and could print money.
    Anyway, debt only becomes a problem at 90% of GDP.
    Governments are not like households as they can tax people, yet Osborne spoke about nation´s “credit card”.
    Prominent businessmen, OECD and IMF backed Osborne. His fellow Bilderberger Mervyn King at the Bank of England became an unofficial member of Team Osborne.
    No one told the truth: the austerity measures were agreed at the Bilderberg meeting run by Rothschilds and Rockefellers.
    The reason for austerity is political, not economic. The plan of the globalist bankers is to pile debt on nation states in Europe, and then take political control by creating a federation.
    People is Europe now see that austerity is not providing growth, and are rebelling against neoliberal austerity.
    Governments can only cut their own expenditure – not deficits. It depends on how the rest of the economy reacts to cuts whether deficit comes down.
    If you cut too fast and too deep, the deficit goes up.
    Growth is the best way to cut deficit, not austerity.
    Alistair Darling plan included cuts of £44bn compared to £81bn of Osborne. Yet the Tory-led government will now have to borrow more than Labour would have done even though it is cutting more.
    This, of course, is total madness!
    The problem with the Alistair Darling plan was that growth alone would have halved the deficit without any cuts.
    So even the £44bn cuts were not necessary.
    The 2+2=4 of economics is that you only start cutting public spending when the recovery is well on track.
    Osborne cut the stimulus too early. He has now painted himself to a corner and cannot make the much-needed U-turn without losing face.
    So he continues with the doomed plan A with so-called “automatic stabilizers” now stepping in causing public spending to increase this year 0.5% in real terms.
    The only solution is that Mr Osborne leaves office now. The best of David Cameron is also behind.
    Who wants five more years of incompetent Cameron and Osborne? No one.
    Mr Osborne will never change course because austerity was agreed at the Bilderberg meeting of top freemasons.
    No one who is a freemason or Bilderberger should hold public office as these men put their “religion” above national interest.
    It is a scandal that George Osborne is allowed to be the chancellor.  

  • Damian212

    I have always found your blog to contain the best and most insightful analysis of what is going on in British politics. How long do you think Cameron and Osborne will be able to maintain the fiction which underlies their political strategy, viz. that it’s all Labour’s fault?

  • Ehtch

    It is quite interesting this governments performance reflects Thatcher’s one of the 1979-81 period, but the Coalition uses the excuse of “Labour’s mess” (their words, not true reality) rather than civil and union industrial unrest used as then with budding Thatcherism. But both performances in government is having the same result, using these such excuses for, as you say, hidden unadmitted political dogmatism.

    History will judge Cameron and Clegg and friends, and they will have to answer to it in the future, where judgements will be made without them being able to hide behind untruths.

  • Trevorsmith

    Borrowing for the purchase of new equipment and other investments  is obviously a commonplace practice in commerce and industry
    What concerns the banks is the return to be earned on the new borrowing.
    If as expected the extra spending on infrastructure projects, a reduction in VAT etc etc as proposed by Labour  bring the country back into growth, the increase in revenues and reduction in benefits to the unemployed would pay for the extra borrowing.
    The present government is having to borrow more than initially planned because of the extra cost of more unemployment since the private sector has not expanded to absorb the redundancies from Central and Local government

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t read any of Olli’s posts in ages, but I mistakenly read the first couple of lines of this one and its the same drivel, in fact its worse than usual. The day Ed Balls is proved right about anything I’ll pay this country’s surplus into your back account Olli.

  • Anonymous

    Thinking of last blog, would it be better if Alistair was the leader of the labour party? Or at least the shadow chancellor? His forecasts have proved more accurate than Ed Balls.
    Would Ken make a better labour leader than Ed?

    Boris would certainly make a better conservative leader than Cameron.

    As for Alastairs talk about the handling of the recession and the crisis, well… Brown and Darling did the wrong thing, but they did what most other politicians would have done, same as George Bush and same as what Cameron and Osborne would have done. Thats fine, as long as no one ever calls it capitalism. Ie when people call the crisis a failure of capitalism that is the annoying part. Neither Balls, Darling or Osborne believe in capitalism, that is quite evident.

    I wonder if Darling would like to answer the questions that Balls always refuses to answer, like when Andrew Neil beat him half to death on the Daily Politics last week on what should have been a good day for Balls.

  • Dave Simons

    ‘Boris would certainly make a better conservative leader than Cameron.’

    Are you serious? You’ve put me in the unusual position of having to defend Cameron! Agreed the latter is all looks and smiles with  the misplaced confidence of entitlement – the media hacks tell me he looks like a Prime Minister, whatever a Prime Minister looks like (Primate?) – but surely ‘chickenfeed’ Johnson, his own best impressionist, is no alternative?
    Ed Balls is being proved right about the economy – the evidence is shouting at you! And we hear this morning (29/04) that, surprisingly, the rich are getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer, rather making a mockery of the soundbite by Quam the Eskimo that “We’re all Inuits together”

  • Mark

    The match is even better than you think – Thatcher and Co certainly did blame the Calaghan Govt as well as the Unions etc – arguably with more justification, as the Blair/ Brown govt’s were streets ahead both of former Laboiur Governments and Cameron’s.

  • Ehtch

    Re: freemasons – I have a loverly bunch of forget-me-not wildflowers growing in my back garden, they are everywhere, and have been every spring for a few years now. I have been thinking of offering them to the local lodge for also a few years. Should get a good price for them.

    Sorry if I have lost some people here. Research forget-me-nots and WWII Germany, that might explain it.

    Interesting sub-culture in society, you could say.

    Furthermore, spot on points Olli. Totally agree.

  • Ehtch

    Furthermore, quite draught today down this way. The wind has blown down all the pink/white flower blossoms from the large crab apple tree in the front garden. Like snow it is on the drive way. More brushing up to do next week. Pity I couldn’t brush up this Coalition with them, and put them on the compost heap.

  • Michele

    Yesterday R4 had a 15m programme about the Jezzer situation.  I hope it wasn’t really made in the last couple of days, if so there’s an awful compacency about …..
    Gove celebrates the fact that Jez really cuts up the dancefloor (and has even had a sprung one fitted at home!).  So relevant eh?

  • Michele

     Which ‘Blairites’ have been proved wrong?

    The was pre-election:

    What TB has said post-coalescence is mere politics (that he might have felt he could choke on). 
    He has a worldwide prominence meaning that whatever is being proposed here he has to find a way to express confidence in our future.  It’s politics innit?

  • Chris

    reaguns  – Ed Balls has already been proved right. Pay up.

  • Michele

     ……………………. “Boris would certainly make a better conservative leader than Cameron.”…………………….

    You’ve admitted a couple of days ago on another thread that BJ has not been a good Mayor, how the he** (take your pick) do you jump to him being worthy of consideration as leader of anything at all, never mind a political party or a government?

    He wasn’t even a good leader as a magazine editor if his liaisons with employees / cheating on his wife and children are taken in to account (and they should not really be ignored).  BJ is out for BJ and nothing / nobody else.

  • Michele

     The answer would be the same as it has been for more than two years – two parliaments.
    The numbers cannot be given for what are always very very obvious reasons for the party not currently in power. 
    Sadly for us it’s also looking as if the one that is is clueless about them or simply not absorbing/stacking them up; I’m sure they’re excellent, trained at memorising individual numbers and quoting them back – that’s not the same as understanding them and their effect on each other. 

    We have no evidence at all that Osbo is being constructive or that he understands the need for it.

  • Raider

    Is it me or have Cameron & Co dropped “Labour” from “the mess we inherited from Labour” mantra over the past few days. They seem to have stopped implicating Labour in the problem in all the interviews and Question Times. If so, anyone got any idea why the change of tack.  

  • Libdem

    The ‘too fast and too deep’ is of course nonsense, the government has been spending money like water running down hill. Bonfire of the quangos was like a damp squib, like Labour full of a lot of hot air with very little to show for it except ever larger debts!

  • Anonymous

    Well some people say the current problems are due to Reagan and Thatcher and their “neoliberalism”. Seeing as its 22 years since they were in power, and only two since Labour were in power, while that logic is prevalent on the left, another 20 years at least I’d say?

  • Ehtch

    More offtopic Alastair, but what is new, but sport, hope your mate, “The Hairdryer”, enjoyed his time in South Wales last week,

  • Anonymous

    Dave I can agree that:
    – Cameron is useless (and Osborne)
    – Boris would be pretty useless too.

    But if you gave me a choice between the two I’d take Johnson any day of the week. I think he is much more of a thinker (oh yes he is) and is more principled as well (though not all that principled.) He on the other hand certainly does not look like a prime minister!

    I don’t think Balls has been proved right on anything in my life yet. Alistair Darling (who disagreed with Balls analysis) has been closer with his predictions. But lets not be daft, there is nothing to choose between Osborne, Balls, or Brown – and not much between Darling and them.

    Please check out my link in previous blog of Andrew Neil’s latest interview with Balls and then tell me how you can say Balls is right about anything.

    You are right about the rich getting richer, but when you bail out rich people (done by Balls, Brown and Darling) then they’ll get richer.

  • Anonymous

    Michele further to convo with Dave below I must also take an unusual position of defending Ed Balls.

    You say I do not like him as a person therefore you don’t trust my opinion on him. I say it doesn’t matter, there are good politicians who I don’t like as people. Liam Byrne and John Redwood for bipartisan examples.

    Here is one, as a person I much prefer Ken Livingston to Ed Balls. I would rather have Ken as a mate, or to go for a pint with, or to appear on hignfy than Ed Balls. But I’d rather have Ed Balls economic strategy than Ken Livingstones.

    Also, I have been laughing at Balls after last week’s annihilation of him by Andrew Neil. But Cameron went on Andrew Marr today and I had to remember: unlike Miliband, Cameron, or Osborne – at least Balls will face Andrew Neil. I know that if the other 3 were shadow chancellor rather than their more prestigious positions they might too, but still, not fair to focus on Balls kickings as at least he has the cajones to turn up for the kickings.

  • Ehtch

    Off topic again, saw your tweet about Rhoda Macdonald, thought for a minute you were on about Sheena McDonald – it was quite horrific what happened to her. Obviously still suffering from the after affects – great intelligent woman, still,
    Puts a ski accident of the limbs in perspective, doesn’t it. Alastair?

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if Alastair is a fan of Roy Keane as well as Alex Ferguson.

    Cameron today talked about us having to “Strain every sinew.” Previously he has talked about us having to “Show a bit of fight.”

    Alastair has quite rightly poured score on this sort of talk, both here and on his twitter account.

    Roy Keane, for those who don’t know, was one of those gut-busting footballers who really did strain every sinew and show a lot of fight. But he says that managers who say such things are useless, ie managers who tell people to “show a bit of fight” or “roll your sleeves up.” He says the likes of Brian Clough didn’t go into such nonsense but instead went into detailed analysis of what you needed to do to defeat the opposition. This winger always cuts in on his right foot, stats show this fullback tires in the last 10 mins etc.

    I wonder what Keano thinks of “strain every sinew” Cameron.

    Perhaps the solution is for Alastair to arrange a charity football match and to get Keane to mark Cameron?

  • Janiete

    As usual Olli, I agree with your economic analysis of our situation and you are right to say that Ed Balls and Ed Miliband have been vindicated. I would take issue with your suggestion that the ‘Blairites’ were wrong though. It might have been true that Alistair Darling would not have needed to cut as far as he planned if the economy had continued to grow well, and I have no doubt that, had we won the election, adjustments would have been made year on year to take account of that. But it’s important to understand the political necessity of approaching the 2010 election with caution in economic matters.
    Since the 1970s, at least, Labour has been badly damaged by characterisations of economic irresponsibility, peddled by our right-wing, small-statist media and political opponents. Our critics have been extremely successful in selling this view to the public and one of the main reasons for the success of New Labour was a recognition of the importance of ‘prudent’ financial management. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling worked very hard throughout our time in government to observe this principle, and until the financial crash, succeeded. It was wholly right for us to ensure that our plan for recovery was cautious and credible. We would have had no chance at all of being re-elected, given the inevitability of us being blamed for the banking crisis and consequent deficit, if we had given the impression of future profligacy.
    I am glad Ed Miliband did, in essence, adopt the ‘Darling’ plan and continues to resist more left wing voices calling for a more relaxed anti-cuts agenda. I don’t think the British electorate will trust us to sort out our economic problems otherwise.   

  • Michele

     There’s no sign or headline on the post defining it as a joke but tell me, is this another cop out like the one ‘joking’ that you’d vote for a Gadaffi any day vs KL?

  • Michele

    Yet still you name yourself as a ‘libdem’ fan.

    An explanation would not go amiss.

  • Janiete

    Sorry Reagans, but I think you are completely wrong to describe Andrew Neil as annihilating Ed Balls in last week’s interview. Ed doesn’t express himself as well as some other politicians, in part because of his stammering, but his command of the subject, if you listen to it, is sound.
    Neil, on the other hand, substitutes intelligent questioning with an aggressive, belligerent stance in an attempt to bully his opponents. Like Humphries, he approaches interviews with politicians, with the intention of trying to get them to say something which would make a damaging headline. Alternatively he tries to prove them wrong on a very narrow and often disingenuous argument about some aspect of policy, which he hopes will put his opponent on the defensive. When they don’t fall for it, and do a reasonable job of batting his questions away, he interrupts, repeatedly.
    He utilized all these tactics against Balls, trying to get him to say Labour would borrow more than the Tories (just imagine the headline) and he argued that the double-dip couldn’t be related to the speed of cuts because in 2010/11, actual spending cuts were minimal. Ed Balls made the point, clearly enough for anyone who wanted to hear it, that the collapse in confidence in response to Plan A, had triggered the downward trend, and together with the VAT rise had sucked demand out of the economy, further damaging investor confidence. I can’t believe any economist worth his salt, including Neil, doesn’t believe Balls is right.
    But that’s not the name of the game is it? Interviews like these are not intended to inform the public or to get to the detail of an issue. The objective is to make politicians look incompetent or shifty, and to ensure the TV presenter or journalist looks oh so clever and virtuous by comparison. Neil could only make himself look good against the knowledgeable Balls by resorting to his final tactic. In a 10 minute interview, Neil constantly talked over Ed Balls’ answers and interrupted him 38 times. Neil made a couple of sniping, derogatory comments without substantiating them, and at point 11.00 on the recording he laughed when he didn’t get a zippy response to a point he’d made. Given Ed’s openness about his speech problems, this was decidedly below the belt.
    This isn’t quality journalism, or in any way an attempt to aid our understanding of political issues, but unfortunately, it’s typical of the contempt the BBC currently has for politics and the electorate.   

  • Anonymous

    Fairly simple logic behind it Michele.
    I didn’t “admit” that Boris wasn’t a good mayor, I am happy to shout from the rooftops that he has been a bad mayor! If his rivals were good that would be a problem (for him). But saying Boris is bad doesn’t disqualify him from being a better leader than Cameron unless I think Cameron is good and I don’t.

    I think Boris is smarter, more principled and more conservative than Cameron. There is nothing wrong with not being conservative unless you claim to be a conservative like Cam does. So when Cam’s govt is disastrous small c conservatism can be blamed, and taken off the list of options for change. Whereas if he was in the lib dems where he belongs, when he fails we could say lib dem ideas can be taken off the menu. (I would prefer to have a proper left and a proper right, rather than the centrist consensus we have now.)

    So yeah basically I think that Boris is bad, but not as bad as Cam or Ken. It is unfortunate that Boris never talks about the economy though – we don’t know if he believes in the Cameron/Osborne plan, or a more thatcherite plan, or indeed a more keynesian plan, or if (as I suspect) he doesn’t have sufficient knowledge to comment.

  • Anonymous

    Go and watch the interview I posted in the last blog between Andrew Neil and Ed Balls, and come back to me if you can answer any of the questions that Balls could not.

    I think you will find that a bat was taken to Balls.

  • Dave Simons

    Neo-liberalism began its climb to dominance under James Callaghan in 1976. Thatcher and Reagan promoted it to the dominance it has retained to this day. New Labour had to adopt it to make itself electable – because we the electorate, on the whole, and despite the 2008 wake-up, still go along with it. And we suffer the consequences. I would be interested to know, for example, what happened to the idea of having a National Grid for water. I think the idea was circulated in the 1970s, maybe earlier, but as soon as we had privatisation of the water authorities the idea sank. Perhaps that’s why we have our present ludicrous situation of simultaneous flood warnings and drought on a small island. Maybe we should coin a new word for it – I suggest ‘flought’. But Reagan and Thacher were just two prominent actors in the long-drawn-out farce of neo-liberalism, which is little more than a rehash of what we had before Keynes and others tried to come up with something more sensible..

  • Olli Issakainen

    Until recently Blairites in Labour party tried to force the two Eds to change course and adopt more or less the same position on deficit reduction as the Tory-led government. They wanted Ed Miliband to admit that New Labour borrowed too much, and feared that Labour would be labelled “deficit deniers”. Tony Blair himself gave support to the austerity of the coalition. But it has been the “growth deniers” who have been proved wrong.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Until recently Blairites in Labour party tried to force the two Eds to change course and adopt more or less the same position on deficit reduction as the Tory-led government. They wanted Ed Miliband to admit that New Labour borrowed too much, and feared that Labour would be labelled “deficit deniers”. Tony Blair himself gave support to the austerity of the coalition. But it has been the “growth deniers” who have been proved wrong.

  • Michele

    You’ve posted info that itself shows she had not looked both ways, you must have also read in other reports that she was  wearing earphones too. 
    She was probably also thinking about the imminent return of her boyfriend.
    Having lived in London you must know that the whole of that street, from the Angel to Highbury Corner is chockful of traffic all and every day and evening of the week.

    Can’t you just celebrate that after so many awful years she’s finally  getting better and not re-try the dragging down of someone doing his job (with blue light and blaring siren) and about a report that shows third person evidence, none of which will help about something that will anyway be with him forever. 
    It would be lovely if we could all live in havens where authoritarian services aren’t needed but we don’t and there are pros and cons to everything.

    Back on topic, I was wondering why such a plethora of our current MPs are PPE/Oxford, now see it was initially only offered there. 
    I wonder whether its later graduates from other unis will have been taught more truly widely? 
    The ‘I am your Prime Minister’ attitude and its leading to Cameron now thinking he has the right to make an individual decision to trust J Hunt and avoid an Inquiry is 100% arrogant. 
    Carm orff it Dave, we know it’s only about giving JH time to sift his papers (putting some in some of Letwyn’s bins?).  Quite shocking new info about JH’s own company and the people it has accounts with.

  • Michele

     If BJ doesn’t have sufficient knowledge to comment ….. sigh ….. wth makes him a possible candidate as leader?
    PM is First Lord of the Treasury for heaven’s sake.

    PM/leader has to understand what their Chancellor/shadow is doing; TB had not had a ministerial role before becoming PM but – having been a barrister – he was equipped with a great mind for humungous amounts of detail (salesman’s schmooze belongs in a sales meeting or flattering clients over dinner, it is qualification for nothing else …. sadly it succeeded in pulling the wool over Tory voters’ eyes).

  • Michele

     Ed Balls has been a senior team member in the teams led by both GB and AD, he is proven to be highly competent and reliable.

    He doesn’t perform well in HoC, in a way it’s a shame that that is even available to be taken in to account, one of the bad features of live TV coverage.  However on the other hand we get to see how some cheapos exploit his faltering.

    He is much better in other arenas where the ‘opposition’ is not the typical Tory Bullyboys.  I can’t hold that against him and feel some nausea (or loathing) for those that do.

    I posted text info last week btw about his participation in a marathon; his charity cause was children who stammer. 
    A product of self interest or an acknowledgement about its easy exploitation and lifelong effect on someone no matter how talented?

  • reaguns

    No I’m not joking that I’d prefer Johnson to Cameron. Behind the buffoonery is a far sharper intellect than Cameron has, and a more principled one at that. I could list you thousands of people I’d rather have than either of them as the leader of the country, and a good few people I’d rather have as the leader of the Tories, but given the choice between the two I’d take Boris anyday.

  • Michele

    I’m sure Andrew Neil’s ownership of most political programmes, his weekly slot after Question Time and the secure tenancy there of M Portillo will not change under Chris Patten.

    Surely BBC should soon be renamed CBC or even TBC?

  • Michele

     Dropped an ‘l’ there!

    Mrs Warsi has just announced that she doesn’t think the British general public is much bothered about Jez and his trusted underling’s cosiness with Murdoch!

  • reaguns

    You see my point though, its about blame. Tories blame every bad thing on Labour or the Euro, whilst every good thing is supposedly down to their shrewdness in running the economy – which is nonsense.

    But its also nonsensical to blame Reagan or Thatcher for economic problems that arise 20 years after they left office. If people didn’t like their policies, there has been plenty of time to reverse them.

    I’m not sure how much longer we allow the Tories to keep blaming Labour for economic problems. The “mess the last government left us in” is true – we were left in a mess. You can debate whether it was due to labour or factors beyond their control (a bit of both in my view.) But there must come a time when we say the current situation is no longer labour’s fault, its the Tories fault. When? Those who decide its time must drop the criticism of Reagan and Thatcher to make this line of attack valid though.

  • Libdem

    I’m not a fan of spending money that we don’t have. The government is living off ever increasing amounts of borrowed money which we will be expected to repay.

    Similar to your undying love for GB, I’m hardly likely to jump ship just because I think they have it ‘wrong’ am I?

    Constructive criticism is fine but ‘blind’ love is a bit silly don’t you think?

  • Libdem

    Don’t you think Balls would enjoy the ‘enforcer’ role, man-marking Cameron would be right up his street…the difficult part is finding where to play Miliband so, he can’t damage the team’s chances…..maybe he should be on the subs’ bench!

  • reaguns

    I’m glad you watched the interview Janiete and took the time to comment.
    I have sympathy for Ed Balls stammering and speech issues, though I must say I would never have realised he had these if people hadn’t told me – he has always seemed like a fluent and combative speaker to me, yes I detect a small impediment but I’ve never seen him fail to get his point across so I think he has dealt with this issue very well.

    Obviously I disagree with you regarding Neil. Of course he wants to get the politician to give him new info, preferably controversial. The difference is that where Paxman and Humphrys attack based on aggression, only with only a loose crib sheet to work on done by their researchers, Neil has a better understanding of economics and economic history than any of the cabinet or shadow cabinet. He goes on facts, the other interviewers do not, can not. This is why Cameron only ever agreed to one interview with Neil ever (and it was an annihilation too) and none of them, apart from Balls, will touch him now.

    1. On the points made, it was quite clear that Balls wants to say what he has been saying all along, that the government are cutting the deficit “too far and too fast”. If you have a deficit you are borrowing. If you cut the deficit you want to borrow less. Whoever believe that the deficit should be higher, wants to borrow more. So by saying we are cutting too fast, Ed Balls is saying he believes we should borrow more. Neil asked him how much. Whats wrong with that? Balls refused to answer.

    2. The other point is that Balls has been saying the recession was caused by cuts. Neil pointed out that there have been no overall cuts, ie it amounts to 4 billion out of 1.5 trillion, an insignificant fraction in macroeconomics. Balls, to his credit, admitted as much but changed the argument to be about “confidence”. Fine – but thats not what he was saying before Neil and I bet it wasn’t what he said to lesser interviewers elsewhere who would allow him to stay on message. Which is why, whatever else one says about Ed Balls, it is an easily demonstrable fact that he is deceitful.

    3. Labour want to say that instead of the austerity of Cameron we should follow the stimulus of Obama. Except that the facts show Obama (under pressure from congress) has cut far more than we have, and plans to cut more than we will, if you include overall government spending. (Which is the one that matters if you are talking about private sector recovery.)
    The caveat is that within those overall cuts, Obama has targeted “stimulus” at certain small sectors. Balls raised this point quite rightly. But overall he is not running “stimulus”, Neil made this point quite rightly.

    So Obama’s growth and Cameron’s recovery is not a sign that stimulus works, if anything its a sign that austerity works, if its a sign of either (it needn’t be.)

  • Michele

     ‘Go and watch’ …. ‘come back to me’   LOL

    sorry to interrupt a convo but find your own bloddy link!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen it and I’ve posted it. It is easy enough to find on bbc, on daily politics website, on andrew neils twitter and (to his credit) on ed balls twitter page!

    Janiete is the only one who has watched it I think!

  • Anonymous

    Most PMs or presidents do not have a detailed knowledge of economics before they take up the job. There are a few exceptions, and these are not necessarily great adverts for having said knowledge, ie the ones I can think of with a good grasp of the subject before taking office are: Reagan, Thatcher, Clinton, Brown.  Even then, most of them just have a broad understanding and principle, for example Thatcher believed in lower taxes, Reagan in smaller government, Clinton in Third Way – they still needed the economics geeks and policy wonks for precise info about tax rates and interest rate effects.

    In fairness Brown is possibly the only one with the economic confidence to hear what his treasury advisers would say and disagree with it based on his own understanding. Thatcher would so too but only if backed by Alan Walters.

    So my point is that Blair, Cameron, Johnson have a broad knowledge, but without advice from treasury and economists, neither Blair, Cameron nor Johnson would know what rates to set taxes, interest rates etc.

    Blair himself is a good example I think, he has a keen grasp of economics now, as you say he was capable of taking in humungous amounts of information, which I think he did as PM.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    And finally one for Olli to watch:

    Olli you are brainwashed, you do not engage with us on the board, and it is quite obvious you do not engage the counter argument in your research or in your mind either. Remember, you must “know the enemy”, this will strengthen your case.

  • Anonymous

    Fair play to him for overcoming his speech impediment, and work he does for others.

    I think he performs well in HoC and very very well in interviews – it is his skill in deception, extricating himself from traps that gets him through despite being wrong and despite being disengenious. Those of us who know economics know he is wrong, but to the average voter he looks plausible.

  • Michele

     If indeed it’s your excuse for traipsing around labelled as a fanclub/cheerleader yep,
    it’s silly.

  • Michele

    For someone that claimed to not know how to find ‘This Week’ on iplayer last week you’re all of a sudden king of the surfers?

    FYI btw it’s not even possible to find your previous posts here by clicking on the head icon as it is with most others of us ….. possibly because you’ve linked all your other blog sites to your ID here.

  • Michele

     That ‘sharp intellect’ must be how BJ has accomplished / originated so little  in / for London during 4yrs.
    It’s for sure the only quality that enables him to claim the credit for public transport improvements that have been in the pipeline since before the ‘accession’.

  • Dave Simons

     Boris’s sharp intellect is not very apparent in his publications or his interviews. Frankly the man’s an Eton-educated yob who thinks the world’s his oyster. He’s good at posing as a classical scholar though, but nowhere near as good as Enoch Powell was.

  • Michele

     Thanks for the ‘average’, I’d not consider myself on that level re Economics (despite its roots having been one of my subjects 4th form upwards).

    ‘knowing economics’ should not be usurped by you to mean knowing YOUR version of economics.  You have your beliefs, you also often sound vain about them rather like a religionist elsewhere. 

    There are other modes that are equal in rightness and much better for society when implemented properly (ad oh boy, do I celebrate that ’97 – ’10 it was others’ beliefs that were in use).

  • Dave Simons

     People have influence long after they’ve been in office and even after they’ve lived. If you read my post you’ll see that I said we the electorate still go along with the neo-liberal sea-change that happened in the 1970s, first grudgingly under Labour and then promoted with relish by Thatcher and co. I don’t think some people would have any difficulty blaming Karl Marx for what is happening in North Korea at the moment, so I don’t think we should get too defensive about Thatcher and Reagan so soon after their combined baleful influence on contemporary politics. When do we say it’s the Tories’ fault – now, and it’s our fault for letting them back in.

  • Michele

     I know that you’re one of A. Neil’s biggest bestest fans reaguns but that is no way an ‘annihalation’ of Ed Balls.

    The repeated Paxo-like ‘but the cuts haven’t all happened yet’ is meaningless (except that it means that what EB is saying is the reason for the double dip situation now is only going to get even worse when they all come in to effect).

    Take off your love-goggles.

    There is something uncontrollable about these discussions; the presenters hold the timepieces and decide when it’s time out.  I do happen to like Jo Coburn, she’s by far the best of AN’s co-hosts, always well organised and dressed like an individual.

  • reaguns

    No Michele – I can find the last episode of This Week, but I can’t find previous, archived versions of it. Can you?

    As for my “icon” I just use my disqus ID, it works on other sites but not here. I don’t get anything when I click on yours either or most others, except the ones in black that link to someone’s website.

  • reaguns

    I don’t think the Mayor of London really has many powers. Distributed power is a good idea, but I feel this is distributed blame.

  • Janiete

    Olli, as a long standing member of the Labour Party I think it is sensible to take reports of what the ‘evil Blairites’ are up to with a pinch of salt. All too often sources of such stories are found to be commentators outside the party who do not have our interests at heart.

    As far as I can see, Labour has continued to support the (Blairite) Darling plan that we adopted at the election, despite calls from both extremes (in and out) of the Party to change course.

  • Libdem

    This is probably the only time I will ever agree with you Michele, you are hardly average. But you do have a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to  acknowledging any misdemeanours of GB, TB, EB oh I’m sure you can find some additional ones…….

  • Michele


    Strangely enough your icon does now reveal your last few posts.  It’s the internet, it’s wobbly innit!

  • Ehtch

    Michele, calm down. It was an accident. Who is blaming anyone, I certainly am not. It was a chance accident, and without living in a cocoon, will happen to everyone, to a degree. I have been in accidents too – came around a corner once and was met by a big badger in the middle of the road. The car went over it, bounced about two feet in the air, and I ended up in the scenery, just missing a tree. It could have been nasty for me, unlike the poor badger though. Anyway, thank god God I don’t live in Canada – it could have been a moose.

    And I was more hoping that you would have spotted that I had, and still have, the hots for Sheena McDonald, but I am a bloke, and don’t normally admit to such things, in the dark crevices of my mind. My mind I said….

  • Ehtch

    oh dear, tonight. Goal difference time, and oh dear again. Down to the wire, and all that.

  • Michele

    Quote ” ……..Do keep up Mich. girl – I’ve told you how I voted below. Duh!…….”Keep up yourself Mark pet – the blog can be ‘Organised / Sorted by’ in several ways so your ‘below’ isn’t helpful.  You’ve said somewhere (being Above in my sort’s case) you’ve abstained re the Mayoral vote.  Are you in another time zone or have you done postal votes or are you referring to the 2008 elections?  Am I even really interested?  Do I hope we’re on the same team?  Nope.

  • Michele

     Whatever TB’s grasp of economics he is intellectual enough to understand whether a team member ‘gets’ their role and responsibility and has the understanding themself to produce a finished seamless interlocking project.

    Cameron has no such ability for the same role and Osbo is no Brown or Darling.  Dave was only too happy to hand the role to Osbo and wash his hands of it, absolve himself of being First Lord. 

    He’s simply  playing the distracting Salome to Osbo’s axe-action.

  • reaguns

    From 97-2007 we absolutely did not follow the economic strategy of Ed Balls. Balls is to the left, or to the Keynesian side of Brown/Darling and those two are to the left of Tony Blair.

    Yes I believe that mainstream economists are right and Balls is wrong (his views are not mainstream.)But even if you compare him to Keynesians, of which he claims he is one, they believe in running surplus in good times – but Balls believes in running deficits always because then you can spend it on people to get them to vote for you in the short term, and to hell with the long term.

    However leave that to one side for now.

    When I say Balls is wrong in this case, I mean that on different days, and in different interviews, he contradicts himself. He has been saying that the Tories are cutting too far and too fast since the election, has he not? Yet it turns out they did not cut at all in their first year, and have cut an insignificant 4 billion (in a 1.5 trillion economy) this year. Balls conceded to Andrew Neil that they hadn’t made cuts yet. Which means he has either been lying all along, or has been uninformed all along. Against Neil he reversed and talked about “confidence”. This is bad enough – but did he say that in his other interviews? Did he Balls.

    So regardless of which school of economics you subscribe to, Balls has been wrong.

  • reaguns

    Yes thats fine but isn’t it a simple point that if the left can can blame Thatcher and Reagan (hate using their names together as one was a job destroyer and the other a massive job creator) for problems 20 years after their reign, then the right can quite easily blame labour for problems 2 years after theirs?

    My own view is that we blame Reagan and Thatcher for any problems we had with them during their reign, or a little while after it, but not 20 years later. Likewise we can blame Labour for some problems at the end of their reign and a little while after it but surely some time within 2-5 years after that we can start blaming the Tories for not turning it around. Reagan and Roosevelt inherited worse situations than the Tories inherited, and within 2 years they had started recoveries.

  • reaguns

    Yes I think Andrew Neil is much better at interviewing than Paxman or Humphrys, let alone Marr or anyone else, and has a good grasp of economic history.

    I do not agree with everything Neil says – he supported the bank bailout, which, along with workfare, was the worst political policy I have seen in my lifetime.

    But when it comes to grilling politicians, of any stripe, he is brilliant. Its not just Balls, I recommend youtubing his interview with David Cameron (education bit was the best) and his explanation of the ridiculous conditions Camerons ‘peeps’ imposed on the interview. And check out his interview with Claire Perry two days before. “Claire Perry you are making me angry.”

  • reaguns

    I’m not much of a Powell expert beyond ‘that’ speech and the fact that he believed we should get rid of our nuclear weapons and that the Americans were a bigger threat to us than the Russians – loony.

    Sorry to all those I am about to offend but I have only contempt for people who study such soft subjects as Boris and Cam did, Oxbridge or not. Well ok not quite contempt but less respect than for those who studied hard subjects.

    Even George Bush got a degree from Harvard don’t forget – they all specialise in those sort of subjects so that George, Boris and Dave posh-and-nice-but-dim can have degrees supplied to them.

  • reaguns

    I think I agree with all that. You didn’t hit Boris in that one though! Cam doesn’t stand on his own two feet economically. Could Boris? By the end, Tony Blair did.

    Blair said in his Andrew Marr interview that he did not agree with Gordon Brown’s strategy in the financial crisis nor his electoral strategy. He said we shouldn’t have followed the “Keynesian, state is king” policies, and that rather “we should have plotted a new labour course out of the crisis.” I couldn’t agree more.

    I know some people here and in the US think ex leaders should butt out. I disagree. Why oh why would we not want to hear what the elder statesmen believe. Who better knows whats going on, what can be achieved, how the treasury and intelligence services work etc. Heath, Macmillan, Thatcher, Jimmy Carter – all have been willing to say their piece and rightly so. When Tony Blair has spoken in the past few years he has been spot on. I’d like to hear more.

  • reaguns

    Sure is, I can see all the episodes of TW on there but can still only play the last one?

  • Michele

     Sorry Ehtch.  Took the particular link, which was about the driver not being blaimed rather than being a report about the accident itself at the time, as something you disagreed with.

    You have to admit you’re usually so anti- authoritarian (which it would be nice if we could all stay ……).  I daresay you don’t hear many sirens down your way whereas in  Islington they’re almost constant.  Have no idea how anyone sleeps there!

  • Michele

    You seem to think that yours is the only way to.

    Hey ho, what a shame we don’t get to see you tested IRL.

    Your theorising reminds me of what I described last week re Cameron, 10/10 for theoretical hypothetical lalaland situations.

    Proof of the pudding?  You know it’s not even a threat.

  • Michele

     The sad desperate spook’s back…… aaaaaaaagh.

  • Michele

    Off topic; Emollience is even now the language of the Tories re NI.

    I heard Louise Mensch say half an hour or so ago that the Tories on the committee disagreed with the summary’s claim that ‘Rupert Murdoch is not fit to run an international company’ which I agreed was a little wide-ranging and OTT.

    Have just heard Tom Watson reading from the summary and stating ‘Rupert Murdoch is not fit to run an international company like BSkyB’ which is much more factual and relevant.  One has to wonder whether LM was even equipped to be on that particular Committee, given her previous career (the tough questioning she threatened just before the shaving foam incident turned out to be a lot less than tough imhoo) .

  • Michele

    Further to my last ….. in hopes I’m on the same thread: 
     …. the report says ‘major international company’ which is quite dfferent to LM’s ‘international company’.
    Seems to me she’s falling short of being as objective as such a committee should be.

  • Michele

    Plughole avoidance to reaguns; you have to faff around a bit around the page but the various interviews per episode are shown separately as hypelinks and open at their start (so no need to watch a whole episode if just wanting to catch up with someone lovely like Carmen
    Batmanghelidjh who was on while I was elsewhere).
    Different browsers have different results too.  I use Firefox, OE’s a bit Darth Vader for me.

  • Michele

     Oh sodding heck, it’s a good job I’m not a tic-tac signer !! 
    Tom Watson’s also now verbalised the short-form that Mensch had used, without the narrower description in the report he read out. 

  • Gilliebc

    ‘Those of us who know economics…..’     

    Don’t make me laugh!  You are a MSM conditioned person.  It’s all about the ‘world according to Andrew Neil’ as far as you’re concerned. 
    You may have read a few books on economics, but they can only ever express the views and opinions of the authors.  It’s just that author’s opinion.  Books don’t define what is right or wrong in terms of economics or anything else.  

    Sometimes reaguns it’s as if you’ve just arrived here on planet earth and are striving to catch up on some long lost or never had, education.  I commend you for endeavoring to educate yourself.  But at some point hopefully you will have to begin to think for yourself.  At the moment you think and believe what you’re told to think and believe. 
    The word sheeple was invented for people such as you.   

    And you a relative newby to this site have the cheek/stupidity to refer to Olli’s posts as drivel!  You know nothing of any real importance reaguns, and unless you shake -off your self-imposed MSM and other shackles and open your mind you never will. 

    Finally, just to be clear, I am not talking about or referring to wild conspiracy theories here. 
    Did you learn nothing about history at school?  Did you learn nothing from your elders whilst growing-up?  If you grew up in a children’s home or similar then I would apologize unreservedly for this post. If however you had a relatively normal up-bringing then why are you only just beginning to learn about things? 

  • Anonymous

    I neither think mine is the only way, or that there is a need for theorising. There are plenty of examples of recessions and debt crisis in history both here and in other places. If we followed the proven policies that worked we’d have been fine. No theorising required.

  • Michele

    S’only meee again.
    On Newsnight Ms Mensch is sticking to her defence of the Murdochs against those terrible committee colleagues.

    Nobody has accused the Murdochs themselves of phone hacking, does she really not understand that MDs and Chairpersons of any size of company have the duty to know how their employees are working and achieving what they do?
    They have at the very least been irresponsible, not in control, they’re not exemplary enough to have multinational ownerships and it’s that  simple.

    Mrs Mensch  MkII spooked out Mrs Mensch MkI by writing a chicklit booklet about a married heavy metal impresario, a copy of it reached the latter. 
    I’m pretty sure it was also about lovers of differing religions.  P
    erhaps Mrs Mensch II was not really a suitable member for the particular committee?  Do we need an Inquiry about that?

  • Ehtch

    Sirens? The local cop shop for the area is in my village – it is like downtown Manhattan all day long here, but it gets quieter when the pubs shut.

    And I am pro-sensible authoritarian, if there is such a thing. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and all that, as that fella from history said.,_1st_Baron_Acton

  • reaguns

    Camerons a lightweight, Balls would chop him in half I reckon! Cameron better holding the coats with Miliband! Who have Tories got to take on Balls at football… maybe Boris Johnson with one of his daft rugby tackles? Think I’d have to give Balls the edge in that battle.

  • reaguns

    And there’s me thinking we were friends…

    Thanks for your concern, as it happens I get my knowledge from books, tv, the internet, papers/media, other people and then use my own brain to process it. If you have a different method you’d like to suggest, feel free to let me know about it.

    Thanks for your commendation on my education too lol. Maybe we can compare my, your and Olli’s academic and professional records some time and then you can judge how I’m getting on with it, eh?

    2 points must be made firmly however.

    1. How long someone has been on this site has nothing to do with their ability or their right to comment on posts from Alastair, Olli or anyone else. If Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman came on here to talk, we wouldn’t discount their knowledge because they are newbies to the site.

    2. Are you saying that Olli’s posts are not influenced by the MSM? He is an orthodox left wing social democrat keynesian – if you could mate the bbc with the guardian in test tube the resultant child would have the same opinions as Olli. His views are also straight out of many establishment university professors, who tend to lean to the left wing keynesian position. So don’t make me laugh by saying I am more influenced by MSM than him.

    You on the other hand have read different things than the MSM, and yes a lot of conspiracy theory, so perhaps your views are not MSM, but Olli’s are.

    Perhaps you would like to explain which bits of Olli’s economic theories you agree with and which bits of mine you disagree with? Saying I’m wrong and he’s right doesn’t really further the debate much.

  • reaguns

    Thought I replied to this one, thanks have managed to watch a couple of good old vids now. On the other hand there are loads more to watch so I’ll be spending even more time online!

  • Ehtch

    Furthermore, you could say it is quite ironic that the result between the two last October at Old Trafford matters now so much, on the goal difference maybe deciding stat.

    Could say, morally, City should have it. But football is a funny ol’ game and all that, psychological effects, and mind-playing, which Alex is the top man at.

    See, I have made City comfortable in what I have said, and United worked up and motivated. But that is if any of either of them read this, which I seriously doubt.

  • Gilliebc

    Sorry reaguns having re-read my previous post to you some of it didn’t come across in quite the way I intended.  It sounds harsh judgmental and slightly intolerant as well.  So I apologize for that.  On your first point about the length of time that someone/anyone has been posting on a site, I’ll ‘give’ you that one, so to speak!  I guess I’m just a little old-fashioned in that I show respect for anyone who is my intellectual superior, as Olli clearly is.  That being said, I don’t actually agree with all his views anymore than I agree with all the views of hardly anyone else.  I’m not an admirer of Keynsian economics.  I didn’t say that I thought he was right and you were wrong.  Things are never that black and white in my experience.
    Regarding academic and professional records I am certainly not prepared to post my CV on a public blog site. I am prepaired however to disclose that I did well enough academically to have a successful well paid career in financial services.  I didn’t particularly enjoy it but it served a purpose.
    Ps. Olli’s views are definitely not all MSM influenced.  Far from it.  But as you no longer read his posts you could not be expected to know that. 

  • reaguns

    No problem.

    I understand that some people have more experience or have done more research than me in certain areas, but I do not consider anyone my intellectual superior. Question everyone.
    I don’t see how you can pour scorn on all the rest of us brainwashed, MSM stooges, while you worship the guru Olli.

    I stopped reading Olli’s posts because they are all the same! “Some successful politicians are acquainted with some successful bankers, some even go back and forth between those careers.” Shocker!

    No one wants to see anyone’s CV, I’m merely pointing out that to make judgements of each other without such facts is not clever, it is better not to share CVs or any other details so that there are fewer ad hominem attacks and people can attack and defend arguments rather than people.

  • Gilliebc

    I do not pour scorn on anyone.  Neither do I ‘worship’ anyone. 

    You write ‘I do not consider anyone my intellectual superior’  then you are seriously self-deluded!  End of. 

  • Anonymous

    Does everyone have an intellectual superior then, or do some people not have an intellectual superior? The answer to that question will be illuminating as to whether it is reasonable or deluded for me to think what I think.
    Does Olli have an intellectual superior?
    Does Alastair?

    You don’t agree with mainstream economic, political or media views yet they come from experienced people with good education, success in the market etc – are they not your intellectual superiors? And shouldn’t you defer to them instead of saying they are all wrong? If you say “Ah but they are part of the conspiracy” then what of those who do not benefit from the conspiracy but still say its not a conspiracy?

    It is not “end of” just because you, or Michele or anyone say so. Grown up debates can not be shut down so easily.