Saturday, 8 December 2012

Osborne and Alexander's clueless double-act

It would be easy to dissect the problems with economic policy if there was anything to describe as such.    Ironically, the Autumn Statement was delivered on a day when a light sprinkling of snow paralysed the South-East of England - but in order to discern the mentality of Gideon and Beaker one would be better off ingesting other white powders.

Midway through the austerity project, the scourging and the tokenistic attempts to portray the rich and the corporate sector as making any meaningful contribution to the country are becoming not merely tedious but so utterly devoid of credibility that even an inveterate liar would be open-mouthed in admiration.  It gets surreal - the response to reduced corporation tax yields is to reduce corporation tax itself, rather than setting up the system in such a way that it cannot be avoided.

At the same time, Osborne plays to the misguided gallery through his constant refusal to do anything about property tax - while at the same time capping benefits.  Most rational people would argue that the best way to reduce the benefits bill would be to ensure that they were only claimed by those who needed them - reducing dependency cultures and getting people to work - rather than making the genuinely-distressed even more penurious.

This set of proposals are the early fruits of the odious Lynton Crosby's return to Tory service.  About the only dog-whistle that Gideon didn't reprise was the immigration card - doubtless this will be up their sleeve in time for the election.  The discredited myths of trickledown and the sovereignty of the "entrepreneurial" class are alive and kicking, despite all the evidence that a better route to recovery would be kicking the bankers, the City and pump-priming through genuine investment.

What would have been interesting is if a genuine left-liberal alternative had been put forward - for example compelling pension funds to invest in infrastructure bonds (a long-term asset for long-term businesses) or a review of outsourcing and privatisation.  However, Osborne is too much of the diseased spaniel to the carcases of the Tory grandees, and this would have required genuine radicalism.

Labour had an undefended wicket, but persisted in bowling off-stump - so the challenge has been muted.  A selfish, mean-spritied and totally gutless response to economic crisis has been ongoing, and the common sense test should be applied - but there is no real opposition.  Beaker and George will be sniggering until they reach puberty together and can discover the pleasures of male adolescence.

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