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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Difficult to Believe - But True

I am not often astonished by politicians, but this week has been the exception. While Mrs May has hit out hard at those who should be her most secure voters, Jeremy Corbyn has subscribed to a manifesto that just has a chance of mitigating his own negative impact on the majority of voters.

The reason why the Tories have struck at pensioners' benefits and capped what they will put into the National Health Service arises from the Treasury obsession with eradicating the deficit on government spending; though this is now deferred [again] until after 2025. The Conservatives' assumptions are that economic growth will be sluggish over the period of the next parliament, that productivity will not improve significantly, and that the recent dependence of the economy on citizens borrowing more to finance continuing consumption will weaken as real incomes decline. Hence they make 'cautious' assumptions about the government's ability to increase taxation, which force them to a very limited vision for government spending. Implicit in the data are that defence spending will not increase, that the police will continue to be starved of necessary resources, and that some 'savings' can be made when we are no longer chipping-in to the European Union budget. Behind the personal campaign being fronted by Mrs May there is a void in policy and absence of realistic hope.

Labour, by contrast, are proposing massive spending on the economic infrastructure and on science and technology: which is the only way in which the productiveness of the economy can be enhanced. Gordon Brown greatly abused the word 'investment' when he was piling up the government's deficit in his last years as Chancellor of the Exchequer: he categorised a lot of government's ordinary spending as 'investment', while he also supported the external financing of school and hospital building that is so much of a burden on the institutions that now occupy those premises. This inherited Labour legacy is unfortunate, because the shadow chancellor [who has the reputation of a dangerous 'leftie'] has imposed on the manifesto - and on Mr Corbyn - the crucial understanding that real investment is the only way to achieve substantial economic growth that can fund both greater real wages and higher standards of social and health services. The public is rightly cynical as to whether Messers Corbyn and McDonnell are the people who can deliver what they offer: but their offer is based on good common sense: which has not much been visible during Corbyn's long political career.

It is a depressing prospect that millions of pensioners will vote for their own disbenefit, rather than take a risk of supporting Labour. By contrast, millions of younger people with nothing to lose might as well plump for Labour, and the hope that tuition fees will be abolished, more homes built, the NHS protected and the police reinforced. The last fortnight of this election campaign will be one of the most interesting periods in which to be alive and active.

I'm going to buy a lottery ticket with my newspaper today, in the hope of being able to buy some publicity for the proposition: "don't vote for Mrs May unless you really want to experience what she is offering".

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