It’s funny how things change. The Conservatives launched this, their first election poster this week. One of their three boasts is “THE DEFICIT HALVED”. This has now been redefined as a success, but Jonathan Portes has dug up some great quotes from 2011 when they were saying something entirely different:
Mark Lancaster: The Government’s plan to eliminate the deficit by 2015 is in stark contrast to the Darling plan, which was simply to reduce it by half. What assessment has the Minister made of the likely impact of the Darling plan on the level of debt and the cost of servicing it?
Mr Hoban [Mark Hoban, at the time a Minister at the Treasury]: If we had continued with the previous Government’s deficit reduction plan, debt would still be rising in 2015, not falling, meaning that we would have to spend an extra £3 billion in one year on debt interest while still having to make spending cuts. The lack of ambition in the previous Government’s plan put our credit rating at risk, thus threatening the prospect of higher interest rates and putting a brake on the recovery.
Then, only halving the deficit by 2015 as per Labour’s original plans would “put our credit rating at risk, thus threatening the prospect of higher interest rates and putting a brake on the recovery.” Now though, halving the deficit is cause for high-fives all round!
This is not to say that Labour’s plans were better than the Tories, both were stupid to focus on the deficit, which was never a big issue. I just make the point to show how divorced politics and economic reality have become. Failure can be redefined as success at will, and something that once was said could lead to catastrophe is now just a step on a road to long term recovery. It’s rather transparent, so hopefully more people will start to notice.