Sunday, November 16, 2008

Are We Ready For A Captain Sensible?

The dogged determination of Brown to recklessly borrow his way out of recession, leaving a legacy of debt, should be a gift to the sensible ones. A golden opportunity to become the voice of financial sense and sensibility. But is the country ready for a Captain Sensible or happy with Brown's Flash Crash Gordon

The current economic woes reveal a stark contrast between two polarised camps of political and economic thinking. 

Conservative, LibDem and true Labour voices are urging caution and common sense in the interests of the country as a whole. That is at odds with a short-sighted government chasing petty political advantage, hell bent on wrecking lives for generations to come. 

Taking the Captain Sensible approach takes courage. It means refusing to cow-tow to the reckless spending fuelled by borrowing which Brown is determined to foist on the country. It means braving New Labour scare-mongering over cuts at an election.

Borrowing and debt have become embedded in the country's psyche with a culture of greed. For a decade people have been cushioned from reality along with the banks. The government too has been happy to follow that recipe for disaster. It take a brave and courageous soul to risk sticking their political neck out to burst that bubble. 

Faced with huge bills, the answer had been to borrow more. Ridiculously cheap imports lulled people into a false sense of security. People were encouraged to buy what they couldn't afford. Now it's impossible, to pay off the debt.

Captain Sensible faces a huge uphill struggle to change the habits of a decade.

Brown wants to lead the world and set off on a massive spending spree taking the country down with him. 

Putting our money where his mouth is, means tax cuts and spending have to be funded by billions of pounds of extra borrowing. For that to have any real effect, the borrowing has to be huge, around £15 billion, and on top of the huge debit already piling up.

Brown is in a strong position. He has the backing of a weak Bank of England governor, easily manipulated by the government. New Labour is well on its way to re-capturing much of the media, in particular the BBC state broadcaster, after the fall-out of the Blair years. 

Time and again Brown and his chancellor are portrayed as action men but they are only acting not solving the global crisis. Caution and real prudence are falling on deaf ears. 

Out of touch with reality, Brown is lovin' it, strutting around the G-20 world stage, quick to pour scorn on shadow chancellor, George Osborne, who is adamant he's doing his job "to tell the truth about the economy" and voice reasonable concerns.

Brown and the economy are out of control. The government is in denial about the true nature of the economic mess. 

Away from the government spin, the amount of real government debt is mind-boggling, following a decade of reckless borrowing and spending and despite the best effort to keep much of it off the public balance sheet. 

Last week Brown, Cameron and Clegg threw themselves into a topsy-turvy tax cutting bidding war. All are agreed over tax cuts and tax breaks but that raised the billion dollar question - just where is all the extra cash going to come from? 

All this should mean the recession is a wake up call, a time to tighten the belts and austerity management. 

The Orange Party has to be dragged screaming to echo the views of Thatcher but the 'housewife' approach of balancing the books of income and expenditure makes sense. And to balance the political books, the last true Labour prime minister, Jim Callaghan, eventually came round to thinking you cannot spend your way out of a recession by just cutting taxes and increasing government spending. 

There is not an unlimited supply of credit out there. Borrowing comes at a price. Eventually we'll be forced to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund, Saudi Arabia and China. That puts us at the mercy of others. Taking a begging bowl to beg for credit means they'll want something in return.

The alternative is to make sure we pay our way. That means cuts. But not in the way the government would have us believe. 

Scrapping ID cards, the useless NHS computer and ending disastrous foreign wars along with reigning in the billions squandered on ridiculous government waste and failed pet projects would give much of the savings needed.

Cutting back on spending means sacrifice but if people are asked to make sacrifices then the same should be true of government, with a start on those highfalutin' projects.

What is not clear is whether a new mood of common sense and sanity has really caught a willing public imagination nor whether there is a politician strong and brave enough to stick to the sensible and risk an almighty media backlash whipped up by the entrenched New Labour government.

It means not acting selfishly for short term political advantage by inflicting a terrible burden of debt on future generations which will leave a lasting legacy for decades to come. 

Look hard enough and you can find Captain Sensibles in some Tory, LibDem and true Labour politicians.

No comments: