The Conservative-Liberal Government’s softening up exercise for next week’s budget continues without shame.
Although this week’s report from the new independent Office for Budgetary Responsibility reported UK borrowing to be lower and tax receipts higher than the Labour Government predicted in March’s budget, the ConLibs continue with their fiction that having opened the books they have found things to be much worse than they feared, as an excuse for the cuts the Tories have wanted to make regardless.
The nobel prize-winning economist, Joe Stiglitz, the Financial Times’ veteran economics columnist, Martin Wolf, and several others have repeated their warnings that the ConLibs’ policy risks stifling growth, reducing demand and tipping us back into recession – as well of course of pushing unemployment far higher than it would otherwise have been. This is the crazy policy one expects from the Tories but it is extraordinary that the Lib Dems appear to have meekly swallowed it. Keynes must be turning in his grave!
Another short-sighted and wrong-headed decision by the Government was their announcement today to abolish the Regional Development Agencies. These provided a much needed strategic development body that could rise above the petty turf wars and nimbyism of some local athorities and ensure that investment, particularly in major infrastructure projects, happened in those places where it was most needed and provided maximum benefit to the region as a whole. It looks like a return to the bad old days of “buggins’ turn” or where those local authorities with the loudest voice or closest friends in Government skew decision making.