Hopefully, this will be a short Rant.
Fraser Nelson, in the Spectator Blog today, reports a spat between Ed Balls and AF Neil over Mr Balls’s claim that the Tories’ "deep, harsh cuts" had caused the recession:
"adjust for inflation and core government spending (that is, stripping out debt and dole) is down just 0.8 per cent. Is that really what caused the crash, asked Neil. Really?"Hoisting the Shadow Chancellor on his own petard, Mr Nelson then goes on to suggest that it is Ed Balls who is responsible for the crash – by so terrifying people about the coming axe ‘that they desisted from their economic activity and bunkered down’.
The Shadow Chancellor, suggests Mr Nelson, TALKED us into recession!
The Alternative Conceptual Universe of Mr Nelson
So – and let’s pause to get this correct – what Mr Nelson is trying to get us believe is that Austerity HASN’T caused the recession, not because austerity doesn’t indeed perhaps cause recessions, but because there hasn’t in fact been any austerity.
And – further – do I read the inference that there isn’t really a true recession either … because the downturn is just a figment of businesses’ imagination, rather than a real, industrial slump?
It just goes to show what you can do with words which, as we know, are abstract constructs and do not carry absolute meaning.
Because – whatever Mr Neil might claim about the cuts – they are ‘deep and harsh’ out here in the real world of making-ends-meet.
And – whatever Mr Nelson might suggest about the recession – it is real enough out here in the real world of jobs and living.
The main thing that struck me, however, as I read Mr Nelson’s sophistry, was to wonder – if he is correct – why Labour has the Tory government on the run at the moment?
If Mr Neil is correct and there have been no real cuts – why is the government sitting there and taking the rap for making cuts? The government is as responsible as anyone for the language of austerity which has accompanied its measures to ‘tackle the deficit’.
So why – if there have been no cuts in real terms – is it allowing the opposition to slaughter it in debate after debate for the ‘cuts’ it is allegedly making?
And if Mr Nelson is correct and the recession is merely a blip of confidence caused by the misapprehension of cuts, surely we have the stupidest government of all time, for IT has created a collapse of business confidence out of an illusion of austerity it has propagated!
Back To Reality?
The alternative to all this palaver, of course, is that Ed Balls was right first time, and that the government’s austerity cuts have caused a recession.
Maybe Mr Nelson is correct and the Labour ‘line’ IS a fiction … but the convoluted logic of his alternative makes my brain hurt.