In this post I will be making fun of Nick Clegg for his gross misunderstanding of the way the economy works, but it contains a very serious point.
The Lib Dems, through their coalition with the Conservatives, are facilitating the systematic trashing of the UK economy, including many of the things we had to be proud of about our country like the NHS. This is being done, we are told, because the problems in our economy are so serious, if the Government did not take the action it is taking, the results would be catastrophic.
There are many reasons why this story is false (which I have tried to outline elsewhere), but Nick Clegg seems to have swallowed it whole. When you listen to him talk about the economy though, it quickly becomes clear that he is very confused. He has made a lot of statements that are just flat out wrong, and in another time, the general response to these statements would be ridicule. Clegg’s lack of understanding is a danger to the well-being of the public at large, because as the Lib Dems blunder on in support of the Coalition, more and more long term damage is being done.
Here then are 4 of Clegg’s greatest hits from the last year.
1. “…we must never forget that tackling the deficit is a means to an end and the end we all seek is growth. Our goal isn’t balancing the books for the sake of it, but doing so to meet our real aim: jobs; businesses investing; entrepreneurs getting off the ground.” – Speech on the economy, 8th May 2012
The clanger here is the unspoken assumption that balanced budgets are some sort of panacea – that only then can we get back on our feet. But balanced budgets are not an appropriate economic aim. Find out why here.
2. “Because of our action on the deficit we have kept the markets at bay while our neighbours have been picked off one by one. We’ve kept interest rates at record lows. Because we have stuck to our plan, the UK – the country which had the biggest budget deficit in any advanced economy, bigger than Greece, Portugal, Spain – will, by the end of this Parliament, have a deficit lower than the G7 average.” – Speech to the IoD, 25th April 2012
This is a clanger for a couple of reasons. First, he is comparing the UK’s fortunes to those of the Eurozone countries. This is stupid because the UK has its own currency, while the Eurozone countries gave up theirs to join the Euro. This means the two just can’t be compared. Find out why here. The second reason is that he is claiming the UK’s low interest rates can be attributed to the action taken by the Government. This is highly dubious. Find out why here.
3. “I think we have a moral duty to the next generation, to our children and our grandchildren, to wipe the slate clean for them. We set out a plan, it lasts for about six or seven years, to wipe the slate clean.” – At same event as No. 1 above, 8 May 2012
This is a pretty unforgivable clanger. Clegg is confusing the deficit with the debt here. The Government’s plan is to shrink the deficit, but the overall debt pile will increase year on year. In no sense can this be called wiping the slate clean. The children and grandchildren stuff is bullshit too as I outline here.
4. “So to those who ask, incredulously, what we – the Liberal Democrats – are doing cutting public spending, I simply say this: Who suffers most when governments go bust? When they can no longer pay salaries, benefits and pensions? Not the bankers and the hedge fund managers, that’s for sure. No, it would be the poor, the old, the infirm; those with the least to fall back on.” – Lib Dem Conference speech, 25th September, 2012
Here, Nick Clegg is talking about the possibility of the UK government actually going bankrupt. This is incredibly stupid. He should have been laughed out of the conference for saying this. Here’s a good take-down of Clegg’s conference speech and why it was so idiotic.
You would think after two and a half years in government, Clegg would have picked up some understanding of the economy, but the above suggests he remains dangerously ignorant. I guess Upton Sinclair was right: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” This sums up Clegg and the Lib Dems pretty well. Finally given the chance to be part of government, their political survival now depends upon going along with the very worst policies the Tory Party have to offer, in the vain hope that it will all turn out for the best before 2015. That is looking more and more delusional by the day. Happy New Year everyone!