24 November 2008
I enjoy discussing a conspiracy theory over a pint as much as the next person and, given the shallow and irrelevant nature of most media chat on issues of importance, one can only gain a sense of what is really afoot from trying to read the clues. I would condemn this as undemocratic and unaccountable government in normal times, but just now I am seriously hoping that what we see is not going to be what we actually get.
Apart from the concern about paying the money back, it seems a strategy that is highly likely to fail in its own terms. How many of us feel inclined towards a pre-Christmas splurge this year? Isn't it much more likely that we'll save the money? Rather than encouraging consumption, investment in a low-carbon economy a la Green New Deal would be a strategy worth getting into debt for.
The only justification for racking up spending at the rate we are expecting this afternoon is to keep an unsalvageable system on track for long enough to put something better in its place. The media tidbits about higher income taxes in the future are window, meant to conceal and to impress those amongst the electorate who have longed to see new Labour give some indication that it still represents the have-nots more than the haves. The level of revenue it is likely to accrue for future spending is a pathetic £2bn. and can make no difference to the big picture.
As I blogged previously, what happened in Washington ten days ago was equally meaningless. In this case window-dressing to impress the punters that the big players were talking to each other, and were agreeing, and that they could really make a difference. Hence the Nuremberg-style backdrop: negotiation to impress rather than to make any serious plans.
But I really hope serious plans are being made somewhere. Given the dire situation we are in even a completely undemocratic and secretive policy-making process would be better than the economic freefall and possible social breakdown that is threatening. Gordon Brown might be the person to lead this debate - a politician with a good grasp of economics is valuable in such a crisis. If we see other governments following a similar finger-in-the-dyke strategy to our own Darling's after today then I think we can assume that this is the case. We can hope that a longer-term plan is being assembled and we can do our best to democratise that process by debating our own plans for a steady-state and sustainable economy in pubs, on buses and in any media to which we have access. Tweet