Wednesday, November 22, 2006

George And The Doc

Free market economics can be fun... no, really

Today George Osborne attempts to answer the good Doctor Stelzer's accusation that Tory economic policy amounts to 'plenty of nuthin'.

Yesterday, Rupert's favorite Doc let the Tories have it with both barrels. Quote:
  • Osborne has got trapped into defending the proposition that tax cuts threaten economic stability
  • even Gordon Brown admits the public sector is so bloated that it needs a fiscal diet, and that the public sector is so wasteful that it is pulling down the nation's productivity. This is the beast that Osborne produces to feed, lest anyone think his party "mean".
  • Tory policy is really a policy-by-default. It assumes it is politically impossible to rein in spending. It assumes that unlimited consumer choice is unacceptable, which means that the public sector monopoly can operate free of threat to its inefficiency. It guarantees the further enlargement of the public sector.

So much for the economic realities, but even politically, the Doc reckons the Tory stance is not much of a match-winner. He points out that Brown not only outranks Dave and George on economic stability, but he's also highly likely to to outflank them on tax cuts. Wibbly economics and loser politics: you begin to see why Rupe remains a Brown supporter.

George's response? Well, he's a big fan of the Doc's and that Hayek chap, BUT:

"Though I want to slow the growth of spending, I do not want to bring about "real reductions in public spending". And it is also true that we are not going to allow people to take NHS money and combine it with their own funds to buy healthcare. We want to focus limited resources of improving the NHS for the many not providing opt-outs for a few.

It is time to learn from three election defeats."

In truth, it's just the downbeat centrist image-led muddle-through we've heard many times before. But smacked down on the counter alongside the bright fresh clarity of Stelzer, there's just no contest.

PS When evil scheming geniuses fall out: Richard Branson's outburst yesterday on hearing that he'd been outplayed by Murdoch in his attempt to gobble up ITV was a classic of the genre. Referring to News Corp as the "empire", he said "If the Sun and the Sunday Times and Sky and the News of the World all come out in favour of one particular party, the election is going to be won by that particular party. Basically we have got rid of democracy in this country and we might as well let Murdoch decide who is going to be our Prime Minister." I'm amazed he didn't mention Rupe's well-known penchant for eating babies.

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