Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sharing the proceeds of growth

Well, it looks like that's an idea whose time has come and gone. It's easy to explain why the Conservatives tried to make the line stick - it's both intellectually coherent, and avoids the perennial Labour talking point - if the Tories plan to tax less, what would they cut? The problem with it, of course, is that it assumes a growing economy. The news that the British economy is now stagnant is going to be electrifying for British politics. For Labour, obviously, it's disastrous. The last card in the deck for Brown was his stewardship of the economy. Current figures are going to expose that for the over-blown sham it always was - as Fraser Nelson outlines here.

That phrase - Brown's bubble - is a good one for the Tories. It ties the country's economic problems firmly to the man lagely responsible for them. It doesn't, however, answer the question of what they're going to do now that the central plank of their economic policy has been overturned. Those of us on the economic right of the party would urge them to start talking more and more about the disastrous state of the public finances - and the inevitable need to start tightening the national belt. Any idea of a Keynsian fiscal stimulus has been blown by the Labour Government's traditional profligacy with our cash over the last decade - another point that should be hammered home by the Tories.

Ultimately I suppose I'm saying that the Tories - and the public - are going to have to accept that there isn't any more money for freebies. That nice little soother of a policy has had its day, and it's time for some less sweet tasting medicine.

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