Wednesday 30 November 2011

The Attritional Politics of Austerity

No Plan B, then. General Osborne has concluded that his fundamental positioning cannot be improved upon at this stage in the proceedings (von Moltke rules), and so his banner remains firmly planted atop Hill AAA. Everything else is just tweaking, not to say fiddling. It's not wrong to tweak intelligently, and to keep as many of the troops as busy as possible, particularly as there is a bit of a lull before the main engagement. But that's all it is, and improvements to our situation will be tactical at best - a little redeployment of resources here, some extra trench-digging there.

So grinding austerity it is, with inflation to boot.

We've had austerity before: the Depression, the late '40s and early '50s: but the British were more self-disciplined then, and battle-hardened. Literally.
If we demonstrably weather the onslaught about to hit the eurozone then perhaps everyone will glumly accept austerity as the price to pay for a strategy of defending the AAA.

In base political currency it is fortunate for the Coalition that both Ed M and Ed B are unconvincing and unattractive splutterers. In time, Labour will find a more compelling voice - but maybe not for years: when you've lost credibility, it's gone (ask Hague, or IDS, or Howard). Huhne will probably soon be wandering loose on the battlefield, one way or another; but otherwise the LibDems have dug in alongside the Tories: Marine Ashdown was steady in the ranks yesterday, and young Captain Alexander knows his duty. So perhaps it isn't a party-political issue so much as a government dealing directly with its unhappy people.

Cameron needs to find a way of speaking to this, a 'narrative' in the jargon of the day. Lots of C@W regulars seem to despise Cameron. I'd say there's no-one better in the Commons for this right now, so let's just get on with the slogging-match.




Budgie said...

"Lots of C@W regulars seem to despise Cameron."

True. And for good reason.

"I'd say there's no-one better in the Commons for this right now".

That might be because the rest of this bunch of MPs are even worse (we're domed).

Come on, ND, CAGW (the theory that man made global warming will overwhelm all other natural climate variables) is dead. Yet Cameron is still an acolyte.

Cheeseparing at the edges of departments is incredibly difficult. If you know a sound UK example in the past 50 years tell us. The only way to cut is to remove government functions. Yet Cameron has gone for the difficult option without even consulting the Canadians and NZ who have done it. No wonder he is failing.

Cameron has increased the dosh we throw away on DfID. He sits there like a chump accepting everything the BBC dishes out. He is wedded to the EU, giving away British money to prop up the damned euro.

This simply isn't good enough. Cameron shouldn't be supported, he should be in the stocks alongside Brown, Balls and co. And there would be a mad rush for the rotten eggs.

Sean said...

If I was Dave I would launch a tactical nuclear missile aimed directly at the wretches opposite.

What the public needs is blood, and I think it would be wise for Dave to open the curtains a little wider from the "evil greedy bankers" narrative. I think they are grown up enough to understand Mervyns speech in Liverpool the other week

Maybe a royal commission to seek the reasons for our plight going much further than banking reform. Afterall journalists got a public inquiry for their errors, why not one for the politicians too.

Have a good review at money creation, property law, lobbying ect as well as trade, the full political economy.

Dave needs to get nasty and dirty and give the plebs their pound of flesh. Not sure if he is that kind of person.

Botogol said...

It pains me to say it, but I think Ed Balls has improved immensely and is having a good war -- excellent appearance on QT a few weeks ago and good on Today this morning. He's growing in confidence.

Not that I admire him, I think he's shamelesslly pretending that certain options are open to George O which he knows full well are closed, but then all politicians in opposition do that. Meanwhle Ed B has found an authoritative and statemanlike grown up 'voice' to use. (In parliament in PMQs he's still childish, but people seem to toloerate that because when it wokrs, and causes DC to lose his temper it ROFL funny. Everyone likes to see Cameron's bubble of self-assuredness pricked occasionally).

Cameron and Ed B sound like grown ups, Ed M and George O sound out of their depth. The Tories were lucky with the Labour leadership election -- they hoped it might be Balls as he seemed like a loony, but I think Ed M has worked out better for the tories.

Anonymous said...

Ed Balls sounds like a grown-up? Given Mr Neo-Endogenous growth is responsible for this fiasco he has about as much credibility as Jeffrey Archer as a fortune teller. The Cons letting Labour get away with putting the blame on the banks is a disgrace and shows that really the House of Commons is just a gentlemans club where they really all believe the same crap because they all went to the same schools where the learned to be posh fuck-wits.

I think this is going to become increasingly apparent to a Tory grass-roots which will start to realise that if they can send all the Poles home and get out of a collapsing EU then all our real problems will be solved in a trice. Cameron has got one year then the knife will be out.

The push for Britain to become Britain again and not just some rock that any gypsy can move into whenever they feel like will become unstoppable. I strongly believe that Cameron's failure to get a grip on immigration is the cause of the Cons decline in popularity. Nobody wants to see themselves or their sons out of work when the supermarkets are full of people talking in 2nd languages having a laugh at our expense. Something is going to break soon.

Old BE said...

Ed Balls sounds like he knows what he's talking about but still lacks credibility because a) he vaunted himself as the Brains behind Brown when the going seemed good and b) his position is actually not very different from Osborne's.

The sad fact is that unless we are prepared to tear up the postwar consensus (which most people are not) this is a grinding non-recovery which we just have to sit out until the next wave of technology or cheaper energy hits us.

We have to try to enjoy what we have and not moan too much that it isn't as much as we'd like!

Elby the Beserk said...

Well, Nick, it took me 40 years to vote Conservative, and about 40 weeks (at most) to decided I had wasted my vote.

What cuts?
Where's the Bonfire of the Quangos?
Where's the Great Repeal Bill?
Repatriate powers from the EU? Oh ha ha ha

Add to that, that they took our excellent local Tory candidate, the delectable Ms. Annunziata Rees-Mogg, who gave the local incumbent and EU turncoat, David Heath, a bloody good run, off the Conservative Party selection list.

I wrote to Baroness Warsi, noting the above, and was thanked for my comments by a minion.

So sod that lot as well.

I will almost certainly vote UKIP if I vote again, as Labour are a phantasm here. Elsewhere I might vote whatever was needed to keep Labour out, but to all intents purposes, the parties are all vaguely different shades of the same turd.

And as well all know, you cannot polish a turd.

Democracy is stuffed in the UK. It needs to be turned on its head, and to start at the local level. We need to have control over our Councils, not they over us. I'd take a Swiss style model for sure. But it won't happen.

FUBAR, as our American friends say. And SNAFU. To the power of FUBAR

Elby the Beserk said...


Balls is, always has been, and always has been, a total idiot.

He's now saying the government is borrowing too much, and that they need to cut more slowly. Of course, to do that, they would need to borrow even more.

I rest my case. Balls is a cretin. And very dangerous.

idle said...

I don't like Cameron a bit, but I don't despise him. But I do hold him in contempt for his rank dishonesty over Europe and his bogus environmental and overseas aid activities.

I hate Balls, because he makes it so clear he hates me, my family, my friends, and all independent-minded folk in Britain who would prefer the government to play less of a role in their daily lives.

I voted Davis in 05 (a membership long since abandoned) and I maintain that Davis would be making a much better fist of all this (and would not be governing in coalition).

Demetrius said...

Defending the AAA, it reminds me of all those happy years long past when we paid to defend the Sterling Area. How things change.

Elby the Beserk said...

Idle - Davis yes. So much less baggage than Cameron.

Anonymous said...

People that have never voted anything but Labour went on strike today in areas that always return a Labour MP. Rest of country unaffected.

James Higham said...

The issue is that this so called austerity is so false, induced. There is no need for either it or next year's crash. How does austerity get manufacturing going again?

CityUnslicker said...

James- interesting, this is not false, the issue is the need for austerity is about 3x what we currently have.

I am not a fan of Cameron either I am afraid. yes better than Labour and best of a bad choice. But most commenters here are right; the crisis is a time for thebold moves, for the repeal of a 50% GDP state, for a return to freedom - conservative moves, not revolutionary ones. The waste is that we are having strikes and moral lefty outrgage anyway, so we may as well have made it for a high price, instead a weak attempt at austerity has condemned us to failure - not that much of it is Dave's fault, see below...

No one is brave enough for the times and the sad truth is if the eurozone breaks up it won't matter as Britain will be bust and whoever is then in power will have to break the news of a 50% reduction in Government spending, 10 million unemployed, FTSE at 1000 - I quote this from a senior City economist speaking today who had just come back from meeting HMT where they are doing the planning for 2012.

Anonymous said...

I think people have been conned, lied to so often that that they do not believe what the little self promoting, fiddling, saying one thing and doing exactly the opposit, self promoting, grandstanding, promoting something because they have been bribed (in any way you can think of, the me, me, ME! Is it any wonder ordinary folks do NOT believe anything when the truth is spoken. Folks are fed up with being conned and lied to because of personal interests and powerful self interested bodies.
Excit rant

Dick the Prick said...

Yeah, agree with much of the above. I don't think I despise the guy and ofcourse he had to get elected and think about re-election and the Tory brand, the 'right wing brand' is structurally weak because of 14 years of social manipulation and voters who couldn't give a monkeys about strategic benefit if it bought them a pint.

I appreciate it's a tough sell for the lad. I truly despised Brown but with Cameron it's more like that guy in the pub 'oh, him, yeah, he's a bit of a wanker'

WV: qualkmen - technocrats imposed on the Pennsylvanian Dutch?

electro-kevin said...

I'd say John Redwood and Dan Hannan are certainly better than Cameron.

I despise him because he's not in the remotest a Conservative.

dave said...

I don't despise Dave.

I just wish he'd act more like a proper conservative leader and also carry out half the promises that he won the election with.

It strikes me that 'Austerity' TM, isn't really happening at all. Govt spending continues to go up not down. 50% of GDP is government. Why don't they cut properly and reduce the govt. spending to a much more realistic 30%?

Why don't they spend truly vast amounts of money on infrastructure now while they can borrow money cheaply and get everybody working towards making the country a better place. Governments role should only be in infrastructure, education, and maybe health. Nothing else. Not running banks, not making Europe a better place, not spending vast amounts of money the UK doesn't have on foreign aid, not fighting foreign wars, not keeping people with 'bad backs' alive to drink in the pub all day, not providing an alternative home for Eastern Europeans to live, etc.


If they are planning for armageddon in 2012, bring it on. Might be the reboot the world needs. Seems to be working for Iceland.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

@CU: I was really worried at your comments "50% reduction in Government spending, 10 million unemployed, FTSE at 1000" - and then I realised it was an economist talking. What the f*** would he know? He's an economist. The only one who's got any brains is Steve Keen, and he's mad.

Apropos Cameron: nice chap, useless. Osborne: not nice chap, useless.

The minute the present incumbents started twittering on about foreign aid and poofs getting married they lost my vote. It's time for some grown ups in power fixing our actual problems. Things are so bad I find myself hankering after the Vulcan, Mr Redwood. At least he gets it.

Bill Quango MP said...

Just read this. I partially agree with every single comment.
Now that can't be right.

I can only fall back on my thoughts pre the election.
I would vote for anyone who could get rid of Brown. I'd have voted in Chris Huhne for Pm if it got Brown out. I'd have voted Dianne Abbot for PM if it would have got Brown out. Even Tony Blair.

Cameron had my full, loyal, door knocking, leaflet distributing,speech making unconditional support right up to May 11th 2010.

Since that day 'ohne mich'.
{without me..count me out.. but used more in the sense of 'I've done my bit, let someone else have a go.}

Anonymous said...

"Govt spending continues to go up not down."

Not true. Government spending declined by about £20billion last year. The debt went up because we still have a substantial deficit, but the rate of increase in the debt in slowing. At this rate it will take 6 more years to reduce the deficit to zero, but the government and the OBR consider that the rate of deficit reduction will increase substantially with each year as the economy rebalances (i.e. more former public sector employees will start finding jobs in the private sector and pay more taxes).

"50% of GDP is government."

No, its about 33%.