Monday, 16 August 2010

Scorched Earth Week at Capitalists@Work

With a bow to it being 100 Days of Dave at the weekend, now is a good time to review one of the biggest criticisms laid at the door of the outgoing Labour Government. Here at C@W we proclaimed for more than 2 years before the election that the Government knew the game was up and were going to try their best to leave a terrible state of affairs for the incoming Tory Coalition administration.

From a pure party political perspective this makes perfect sense to do, it ensures that best chance of a one term administration and so a swift return to power from Opposition. From a national perspective it is a gross abuse of power which should really be a matter of treason. To accuse the Labour Party of being more interested in themselves than the Country is a big call, one which would be furiously denied by themselves at all costs.

So this week, amongst the usual posts, we are going to run a series of posts looking at the evidence for a Scorched Earth policy and see what has actually been left for the new Government.


Babar said...

Interesting. Certainly there are examples of contracts being signed in haste, with civil servants objecting, just to stymie a new government.

Above all, rather than scorched earth, the last government spent its dying months playing the economy for the election, avoiding spending reviews and shunting difficult decisions and tough calls. Less scorched earth and more long grass perhaps?

Marchamont Needham said...

More a combination of avoiding difficult decisions (so as not to endanger the recovery of course) and the usual electoral bribery.

That's been going on for ever. The Humber Bridge was a by-election bribe in 1966 (Labour again) as was the rescue of Rover.

So, treason no, just desperate measures from a group of narcissists who were way out of their depth, not up to the job and cared only for their own interests.

Budgie said...

I tend to be anti conspiracy-theory, so I do not think there was a thought through, coherent, universal (within the Labour government) "scorched earth" policy.

There was too much infighting for that to happen.

Was there a scorched earth policy by the men with power (Brown, Balls and a few others)? No, I don't think so. I give them the credit of being sincere - sincerely incompetent, sincerely unable to learn from experience.

Brown and Balls seem to have a characteristic I have met with only in Labour (or even further left) supporters. It was illustrated to me by a (socialist) business man who, courting an investor, told me "when I get my money ...". They seem to think money should flow to them by right, and they do not notice it must, therefore, be taken from other people.

Steven_L said...

Don't forget to look at all the 'building schools for the future' PFI that is now appearing on local authority balance sheets thanks to Mr Darling's 'Keynsian stimulus'.

More LA officers will lose their jobs beacsue of this and the unions (who bleated over teh scrapping of BSF) will help them blame the tories.

The council CEO's that spent tomorrows money yesterday will slash away with impunity.

Mark Wadsworth said...

There can be no dispute that Labour did a nigh-criminal scorched earth with public spending promises

But more subtly, they left house prices teetering at ridiculous highs, thus making it likely that prices will fall on the Tories' watch.

Electro-Kevin said...

Cameron is turning out to be a lefty and seems rather to comfortable in the coalition.

wv: buttful

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it was scorched earth for the incoming goverment or rather simply that Labour and Brown in particular had told themselves that they had created all this 'wealth' over the last 13 years, and they were desperate not to allow the delusion to become fully apparent before they left office.

And they were successful in that goal, this crisis id not over, Labour and the media are already trying to blame it on the Tories.
If we face extremely hard times it will start to stick and Labour will have yet again got away with it.

Look at for example Tony Blair, its almost as if regarding the economic problems he was never PM, no one in the national media even mentions him and the part he played in it all.

Charlie said...

I don't think they had a scorched earth policy as this would imply that they were sufficiently organized and competent to plan it.

More plausible are simpler objectives: spending to buy votes, spending to mask or bury other f-ups, lock in spending that would be impossible or politically expensive for the opposition to reverse. Still destructive to the economy and country but as an unintended consequence rather than the primary objective.