Every political commentator always rehashes the Clinton line that all elections are about one thing – ‘It’s the economy stupid’.
So in recent days the issues have drifted from the sublime to the ridiculous as we surely slipped ‘off grid’ for all the major parties. Today, with the publication of the IFS report was certainly always going to be about the economy and more specifically the deficit and austerity.
The IFS Report is here – http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7725
A helpful BBC guide to the main points is covered here on its election website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32424739
As you can see the parties have tried their best but haven’t been specific enough to help you sit down and work through their budgets for the next 5 years. Indeed I would argue that has never been the case and a manifesto isn’t a detailed plan for the decisions a PM or Chancellor – or indeed any SoS are going to make for the for 5-10 years. Surely a manifesto is a broad appeal to the type of government and its intentions for the next 5 years. So what the IFS report confirms to me is quite simple. The Tories are fixated on reducing borrowing and even talking about a very small surplus by 2020. This is their ideological position not just an economic one. The same was true of the last five years. The Tories criticised Labour for only wanting to half the deficit in this parliament – even though that is al they achieved and at great economic and social cost. By fixating on the deficit the Tories created the slowest economic recovery in history. You see the deficit isn’t ‘the economy’ it is one part of our economic story. If we take the Tories spending plans as face value there is a lot of pain to come. If we add in the fact that they have also ‘promised’ another £23bn of spending which they have not accounted for that will have tome come from somewhere – more cuts? Increased taxes or as Andrew Neil said – the magic money tree.
It looks as though with the other major parties the tax and spend plans look similar. Yes there will be reductions in spending but not at the rates proposed by the Tories and the deficit would be reduced much more slowly.
I know most of the readers of this blog/guide are interested in finding their way through the spin and enjoying finding out what is really going on behind the headlines. well today the IFS have thankfully done my job for me.
The economic and public finances are examined and explained. So if it is all about the economy it would be easy from here wouldn’t it? You decide which model of the economy you prefer and you back it? Well of course not. What money is spent on and if your priorities and values are reflected by the Party of your choice that counts just as much.
The economy is important as the basis for government but it’s not the size of the economy that matters – it’s what you do with it!