Friday, October 9, 2009

David Cameron: Or how to give a major political speech in 2009 Britain without mentioning banks

I just read the full text of the speech given by the likely future Prime Minister, which you can find here.

There are two ways to interpret this speech.

1. We've got no real plans about anything, so we're just going to talk about all the things wrong with the country, and offer some irrelevant gimmicks as solutions, hoping that people will either not notice or will not care, in their relief at seeing the back of Gordon Brown.

2. There is a plan, but we don't want to tell you what it is, because you won't like it. But for those who can read between the lines, the plan is: cut government back. A lot.

The evidence for 2. is the following passage, which rather surreally blames excessive government spending for the current recession:

"we won't help anyone unless we face up to some big problems. The highest budget deficit since the war. The deepest recession since the war. Social breakdown; political disillusionment. Big problems for the next government to address.
And here is the big argument in British politics today, put plainly and simply. Labour say that to solve the country's problems, we need more government.
Don't they see? It is more government that got us into this mess.
Why is our economy broken? Not just because Labour wrongly thought they'd abolished boom and bust. But because government got too big, spent too much and doubled the national debt.
Why is our society broken? Because government got too big, did too much and undermined responsibility."

So, the collapse of the banking system has nothing to do with the recession, except to the extent that it is Gordon Brown's fault for creating the Financial Services Authority. And the doubling of national debt is not the result of bailing out the banks, but because of too much government spending on Regional Development Agencies and NHS computers.

This is a gigantic intellectual fraud, but it could well work. After all, the banks' detritus is now on the government's books, so the financial blackhole the banks created can now become government's fault.  And what better way to deal with the debt which is now on the government's books then cutting the kind of government spending Conservatives don't like?