Monday, 31 January 2011

Are Ed Balls & others really deficit deniers?

There is a common theme amongst right wing bloggers and commentators to refer to anyone who resists cuts as a deficit denier and their favourite target for this tag is Ed Balls. Unless I'm missing some hidden meaning, to be a deficit denier is surely to deny a deficit exists. Now, this would be a pretty odd thing to do considering that there is unquestionably a deficit and this is what the right wing types are looking to do. They want to paint Ed Balls as completely out of touch with reality. In actuality, Ed Balls does not deny there is a deficit; quite the opposite, he acknowledges it frequently. He just thinks that there is a better way to reduce it than the way that most right wing folk are advocating.

Unfortunately, those who believe that wholesale massive cuts in public spending is the way forward have done a very good job of convincing a great many people that it is the only way to reduce the deficit. It has to be said however, that the people they have done the best job of convincing is themselves. There is absolutely no arguing to be had with them. For them, every protest about any cut is deluded socialist thinking. They do not engage with  the people who just want to try and find a better solution. If the coalition announces a cut, it is wholeheartedly supported, no questions asked. If anyone wants to criticise the decision it isn't long before they get a response along the lines of  "Labour created this mess and now the Tories are going to fix it". Brilliant.

It should be pointed out that there is a growing movement on the left who are just as fanatical in their belief that all Tories are evil millionaires, determined to smash the little people back into their places. They too, have been successful in convincing a great man people to join their band of brothers and fight the coalition every step of the way. Now, whilst such engagement is to be admired, they would do well to pick their battles and frame their arguments a little better. A significant portion of the population are Tories and don't appreciate being labelled as scum.

For me, I think the deficit is something that is so serious that such polarisation in views is only damaging our chances of a stable recovery. There are some things where strongly opposing views are required, add to the debate and produce significant legislation. I don't think this is one of them. I think this is the type of problem that requires a moderate touch. We want to bring about a managed reduction in our deficit, yes but we also need to provide the right platform for growth. If you rely on your car for work, selling it, whilst reducing your debt in the short term, will be catastrophic for your long term prospects. However, downgrading your car could still reduce your debt whilst keeping your job secure. Government needs the same sort of thinking.

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