September 17, 2009

JUST TYPES:

The cuts agenda is a brilliant diversion from the real crisis: Cameron has managed to switch the agenda from market failure to public debt. If that sticks, it's a recipe for a Tory landslide (Seumas Milne, 9/17/09, guardian.co.uk)

Whatever else you might say about David Cameron and George Osborne, they have carried off a brilliant political manoeuvre. This time last year, as Lehman Brothers tipped the global banking system towards collapse, the Tories were floundering, irrelevant to the state intervention needed to prevent financial meltdown and hobbled by their support for the deregulation that unleashed the crisis. Cameron was reduced to bleating about "knee-jerk attacks on free markets", as he and his shadow chancellor made the wrong call on everything from the necessity of a fiscal boost to the takeover of the banks.

Twelve months on, the Conservatives have succeeded in turning the entire focus of political debate on its head. Instead of an argument about how to beat the slump triggered by the banking crash, all three main political parties are now competing over how to cut public spending and services. Cheered on by the bulk of the media, Cameron and Osborne have executed a startling sleight of hand, persuading a large section of the public that the real crisis facing the country isn't the havoc wreaked on jobs and living standards by the breakdown of the free-market model — but the increase in government debt incurred to pay for it.

For the Tories, this is a happy return to their small-state comfort zone.


One of the nice things about the complete interpenetration of media throughout the Anglosphere is that it puts paid to the notion that personalities, strategies, tactics and the like matter much. When the Stupid Parties everywhere from the US House to Denmark pull off the same "brilliant" manuever, you realize they're beneficiaries of social forces, not creators of them. Brits haven't been tricked into thinking they're spending too much on the State, the bulk of the West realizes the fact.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 17, 2009 7:54 AM
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