Coffee House

George Osborne isn’t working, we need a Plan B

27 October 2012

4:57 PM

27 October 2012

4:57 PM

Although sometimes implied in public debates, deficit reduction and growth are not alternatives. Both are essential for Britain’s prosperity and economic stability. On either count, George Osborne is failing.

In 2010, George Osborne inherited an economy that was growing at 0.7 per cent. Later that year he ignored the advice of many economists and set out plans to close the deficit within four years rather than eight. He also failed to set out a coherent growth plan, predicated on investment and jobs in the green economy that his party once championed.

The result, plain for all to see, has been a double dip recession. The economy has contracted in each of the last three quarters and has eliminated all of the limited increases in GDP made in the first year of Osborne’s tenure.


While extreme weather events and national occasions like the Olympics or Royal Weddings can explain dips in single quarters, it is Osborne’s dogmatic approach to spending cuts that has sapped confidence from businesses and consumers as well as directly taking demand out of the economy. Last week, in a ground-breaking new study, the IMF admitted that they had underestimated the impact that cuts have on growth during periods when the economy is under siege by a factor of two or three.

The result of Osborne’s slasher-nomics has been borrowing that is rising rather than falling. In this year’s budget, the Chancellor was forced to admit that public sector net borrowing (PSNB) would be 8.3 per cent in 2011-12 rather than 7.9 per cent as he’d predicted a year before. Since then, the situation has deteriorated. The most recent ONS release showed that the PSNB is up nearly 22 per cent in the first five months of the financial year compared to the same period last year. That’s worth saying again. Borrowing is going up even as the departmental spending cuts continue apace.

Given the fiscal straightjacket in which Osborne willingly bound himself, it would take great political skill to perform a fiscal u-turn. Unfortunately he’s not even interested in a g-turn. According to the CBI, the green economy contributed one third of Britain’s sluggish growth in 2011. Since 2004, the clean energy sector has grown worldwide by 600 per cent with the UK well placed to benefit from the increased demand.

Yet Osborne has attempted to slash support for the renewable sector and is implacably opposed to the low carbon targets that energy firms and investors are demanding. Little wonder that two groups of businesses have written to the government to set out their concerns on the direction of travel. Most worryingly, international firms including Siemens, Mitsubishi, Areva, and Vestas have said that current policy risks “damaging consequences for the scale of future investments in the UK energy sector.”

Criticisms that the Chancellor is a part-timer do not ring true. Closer to the mark is that he is a laissez faire ideologue whose world view is crumbling. For this reason alone, Britain needs a Plan B.

Will Straw is the founder of Left Foot ForwardAlistair Darling will be debating Norman Lamont this Monday to as whether we need a Plan B. You can find out more information on the Spectator Debate here.

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Show comments
  • HJ777

    Is Will Straw dishonest or just poorly informed?

    Anybody who has looked at the facts knows that Osborne hasn’t ‘slashed’ spending. What he has done is cut the deficit (by around 25%) principally through tax rises, not spending cuts. Spending is still higher in real terms than when this government came o power and it has only decreased (in real terms) by just over 1% over the last year. I would criticise him for this initial focus on tax rises rather than spending cuts.

    What is more, although did inherit supposed GDP growth, he continued to increase public spending (albeit less rapidly) for well over a year, but growth stalled. Why? Because the GDP growth he inherited had been ‘bought’ by a rapid (and unsustainable) rise in both spending and borrowing by the previous Labour government. In fact, the entire value of the GDP ‘growth” was less than the value of the increases in spending and borrowing. As public sector output is assumed to be the same as public sector input for GDP purposes (because public sector output is not priced), then it is obvious that the ‘growth’ he inherited was an illusion.

    Plan ‘A’ (increases in public sector spending, financed by huge deficits) has now been tried for over four years – it failed to bring about growth. So yes, we do need a plan ‘B’ – large cuts in spending and tax cuts (especially on business).

  • Hilton Holloway

    It shouldn’t take 90 messages to talk Mr Straw’s wet rambling down.

    1. The 0.7 percent growth was achieved by borrowing £152bn. Impressive eh?

    2. The single biggest way of putting money in people’s pockets – or not taking it out – is keeping mortgage interest rates down. If we borrowed more, rates would go up and billions of otherwise disposable income would be sucked uselessly into the bank’s coffers.

    Any Plan B cannot risk a rates rise. So there is no Plan B.

  • Nautical Nick

    What a spectacularly pathetic article. Devoid of any merit.

  • mikewaller

    I was about to put up a post suggesting the Chris Patten include the fairly recent suppression of the most active BBC messageboards by its senior management on his “must look into” list. However, having trawled through the numerous instances of childish invective below, I have changed my mind. Were I Master Straw or anybody else on the Left, I would be laughing my little cotton socks off if this is the best Spectator readers can produce.

    Regarding his piece, I am reminded of a remark an old trade union official used too make when he wished to seem affronted by some management offer: “At least Dick Turpin wore a mask”, his point being that at least Turpin knew what he was doing was disgraceful . Not so, it would seem, with the Ballsites.

    As the rather wonderful Frank Fields pointed out a week or so ago, throughout the entire post war era UK governments of all stripes bought our votes (and shame on us) by spending more cash than was coming in three years out of four. This resulted in the racking up of a huge debt in the form both of borrowed money and quite unsustainable future commitments. Two things have made this catastrophic situation even worse: (a) most other Western countries (our main trading partners) have shown the same grossly profligate tendencies; and, (b) we are in the midst of epoch-making changes in which the world’s economic centre of gravity is shifting irreversibly to countries that have only just become big players. They, of course, are not encumbered by huge debts.

    As a result, there is only one hope if were are to cling onto anything like our present standard of living: the great preponderance of our citizens have somehow to up their game. And what does the the latest scion of the House of Straw propose we do in these circumstances? Why, borrow yet more money and cod the people into thinking that terrible mess they find themselves in all down to some very recent failure in 11 Downing Street. I wonder, as a better alternative, has he considered a career as a snake-oil salesman?

  • LB

    Cut the deficit?

    Which one is that?

    The overspend?

    The structural deficit?

    The cyclical deficit?

    The increase in the true debt?

    Any bloody thing we want it to be?

  • Daniel Maris

    I think if you strip away the politicking, I agree with a lot of what he says. The reality is there are service cuts but increased borrowing. That doesn’t sound like a policy that’s working.

    I particularly agree with Straw’s analysis of the contribution of the green economy to growth. It’s a huge market which unaccountably, we’ve neglected (blame Labour as well as the Tories). I can’t for the life of me think why we aren’t making the turbines and turbine blades in this country. We’ve revived our car industry. We should revive the wind energy industry – and take a huge lead in wave power.

    Recycling is another sector that I think needs the government’s full backing, on that basis that not only does it create jobs here, it improves our balance of payments.

  • Holby18

    I disagree with this article on a number of fronts. I watch CNBC each morning as i am interested in the financial markets. Every UK commentator on this programme would disagree with a plan B saying the markets would go after the UK if they borrowed more. that is what Mr Straw is calling for – more borrowing. Before you know we would be paying 6% on our borrowing.

    As to the changes since 2007 – I am not an economist but I would suggest that global markets have affected growth. The Eurozone has been in an extremely difficult position which has affected our exports Further, most economic commentators would suggest that Obama did what Mr Straw is calling for and it has been an absymal failure.

    Mr Straw quite rightly indicates that temporary ups and downs each quarter and the factors influencing the figures. HOWEVER, he relates the three quarters of this year as reflecting a double dip recession without pointing up counter arguments. Goldman Sachs state that the UK was not in a double dip recession. Their assessment concurs with the Bank of England and to a certain extent the ONS who prepare the figures suggesting they are no longer relevant.

    It is no good just quoting one section of the IMF Report relating to cuts and growth factors which they had underestimated. You should have also indicated that despite denials by Mr Balls the UK had a much higher structural deficit of some £78bn – again the report underestimated this 5.2% GDP figure which is quite shocking given that France only had a 3.1% deficit.. Everything I have read suggests that Gordon Brown used borrowing to create economic activity when all indicators showed the economy was in decline. That is why when financial meltdown occurred, the UK was much worse off than many other countries because of the structural deficit. It seems to me that Mr Straw is calling for the same policies – more borrowing to stimulate economic activity resulting in a larger deficit and higher interest to fund this debt. It is not acceptable – short termism has been around for too many years under the last government for political advantage. We were badly let down by Labour. The citizens of this country with the exception of those working in the public sector or the unemployed will never accept any lessons on the economy from anyone associated with Gordon Brown. Further, a difference of 0.7% between the parties – Alastair Darling was going to cut the deficit by 2.2% whilst George Osborne set it at 2.9%.

    This is hardly a plan B.

    I am not particularly interested in heavy subsidies for green energy. I agree with subsidies but eventually these industries have to start financing themselves. I am retired and know that as a taxpayer I pay a huge amount to my energy company for this as well as through general taxation. We need a balanced energy policy and whilst green energy plays a part it is not at any cost. Further, why shopuld we agree to all these emission targets when our competitos have not done so. i am with the Chancellor on this issue.

    Totally disagree with where you think the Chancellor is re “world view is crumbling”. What an arrogant assumption to make. Save me from this analysis and to think that you want to become an MP. Back to Brownite policies – never mind people like me who have always worked, paid taxes and managed a household budget without borrowing. Such notions alienate me and to think I supported the Labour Party for years. Oh well…..

  • Bluesman

    Did your dad make you do this?

  • TomTom

    Going to follow Daddy into the Blackburn seat are you ? What would Barbara Castle say about dynastic politics ?

  • Fernando5

    I prefer to look at what Darling assumed in the last budget by Labour in 2010. For
    2011 Darling was predicting growth of 3% despite the end of the cut in VAT, the
    rise in income tax rates, the start of the cuts in government expenditure and
    the record level of household debt. The whole strategy was fantastic. No country
    that suffered a banking crisis like the UK came anywhere near achieving this.

    Labour’s policy in 2010 never created a sustainable recovery. The sole aim was to defer the inevitable austerity until after the election.

    Will Straw can do better than trying to defend that nonsense.

    • Ruby Duck

      He will never do better while riding on his daddy’s coat tails.

  • johnfaganwilliams

    DEAR MR Straw

    You live, happily I am sure, in a universe far, far, far, far from here where green polices make sense, where wind farms are economic and carbon capture has been invented. You must, because otherwise everything you write would be bollocks

  • Justathought

    Will the uncomfortable truth is that Jack and his ideologue’s squandered 13 years and have left our generation and our children to clean up the mess. The green economy under Labour resulted in not one wind turbine being built in this country with £billions being spent abroad creating high skilled /high paid jobs for our competitors.

  • anyfool

    In 2010, George Osborne inherited an economy that was growing at 0.7 per cent because Brown increased government spending by 3.7% in 09/10 something Mr Straw forgot to mention.
    Are we to take seriously someone who appears to think words like Slasher-nomics are a sign of serious thinking and at the same time forgetting that Balls managed to forget an extra 73 billion borrowing in one year by claiming we did not think we had done so.

    Given that there has hardly been any cuts why do these halfwits not actually say what they think Plan B should be instead of illusive indications.
    Will Straw is a forceful and articulate you say Fraser, there is nothing forceful in this article just a rehash of the mutterings of everyone who thinks Osborne can never do right, not one original thought in this article, empty prose from an empty head.

  • Henry Gruijters

    Will Straw, the problem is that the government is NOT cutting spending. It is actually decreasing the speed of economic adjustment with tax increases. Not a lack of spending, but tax increases are mostly to blame for the weak growth. Tax increases include.
    – a VAT hike from 17.5% to 20%
    – a new 50 percent rate on incomes over £150,000, (dropping to 45%)
    – a “temporary” payroll tax of 50 percent on bonuses over £25,000
    – a capital-gains tax increase
    and many more tax increases the bottom line is that as Tyler Cowen has aptly put it: the U.K. is another case of private-sector austerity without public-sector austerity (i.e., spending cuts).

    • Silly old telemachus

      Good point, I like the term private sector austerity, but I hate the fact a tory government s doing it.

    • David B

      I am afraid he won’t believe you as all on the left believe in the assumption taught to them by their left leaning economics professor at university that tax has no effect on the economy. Both Ed’s suffer from the same delusion. They don’t understand tax in the real world because they have never had to live in it

  • Richard 111

    I do not wish to disparage the efforts of anyone, but Straw Minor really must do much better than this if he seeks to be treated seriously. His contribution to a Six Form discussion was inadequate and he would find himself seriously intellectually challanged at a Debating Society in any of our better Universities.
    Like many of our students over the years, he fails to remember that the formulation of a plan has to start with a consideration of the environment in which we find ourselves. Straw Minor does appear to be stuck in the past, the product of a well meaning but flawed family background that, like some inhaitants of Downton Abbey, has not yet grasped that their comfortable view of the world will have to change if they are to survive in the big wide world.

  • Ed Tho

    sorry, tired, tired, tired- this is so last month.

  • MikeBrighton

    In 2007 Osborne inherited a wrecked economy bequeathed by an utterly discredited Labour government of which your dad Jack “no illegal rendition of terrorists to be tortured me” Straw was a key member so frankly I will take your opinions in the spirit of a bad joke.

    You believe in evidence based blogging so, if a reduction in spending of a minuscule 3% of GDP over 5 years is “too far to fast” at what rate of spending reduction does your evidence say should be happening? What do you and your discredited Labour chums recommend?

    I’ll await your reply with huge interest.

  • chudsmania

    Will who ? Sounds like another one in denial like Balls

  • ToryOAP

    I didn’t read this as I know it will be rubbish. I just wanted to say you are a prat and anyone who listens to you or your father is also a prat.

    • HooksLaw

      And equally you have to wonder at the vast nopotistic nexus that is the Labour Party.
      Its an inbred organisation.

    • Ordinary voter

      ToryOAP, as a Tory, it is respectable to read an alternative view, then you have have the right to disagree. But to say it is rubbish without reading is just intolerant and ignorant. Sorry, but you gave to respect other views, their wise you’ll end up being like a Labour stooge, who are intolerant of opposing views.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Oh, don’t be so naive. Lefties don’t give a flying f*** whether you disagree, want to debate civilly or have logic on your side, except when they pretend to in order to seize the moral high ground. All this gentlemanly bollocks about treating the scum with respect just plays right into their hands, because respect is the last thing they show anyone else who does not conform to their world view. This is supposed to be a conservative journal. What I want to read are good conservative writers articulating an alternative conservative view, a conservative narrative and cogently challenging the wet one-world socialist crap infesting our Parliament. I have no interest in the “alternative” lefty view which could be written for them by anyone here on the back of a plain fag packet it is so tediously predictable and which is already being rammed down our throats day in and day out by the likes of the BBC, the Guardian and the leftist trolls on this site.

        They are the enemy. Fraser Nelson is too immersed in his make believe bubble to see that or to understand what is at stake and thinks this is some chummy game of Westminster members bar waffle. More fool he. You might think that after 1997-2010 the penny would have dropped and he might be a bit more reticent about giving the bastards oxygen in his “conservative” magazine for another crack at screwing us all. Like they don’t get enough of that already!

        • dalai guevara

          For the left and right thinker there is just a black and a white. In the real world – which I inhabit – we now have 3D colour TV.

          • Daniel Maris

            I couldn’t agree more. The world is a complex place now – it requires some complex political – and economic – thinking.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Don’t be misled by the same old fundamentalists wearing new clothes. The complexity is largely the result of subterfuge and the dearth of plain speaking as politicians have to dance round political correctness and the tyranny of the mob. Multiple agendas conceal very little real change from fundamental left vs right basics. Everything has shifted left and to be right is now to be far-right and, if opposed to multi-culturalism and mass immigration, racist and bigoted too. Real world and 3D? I think not. Rather more narrow, confined and conformist than anything going before.

              • dalai guevara

                ‘Same old fundamentals in new clothes’:
                it makes me laugh when a chap called ‘mustard’ does not realise he is not inbred: The English word “mustard” derives from the Anglo-Norman mustarde and Old French mostarde. The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum.

                Multi-culti in is hypocritical form. How do you sleep at night?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Typical of you to resort to personal innuendo and jump to conclusions. I am opposed to “multi-culturalism” as a top-down, imposed left-wing political ideology not to racial or cultural diversity from and within the natural evolution of tolerant societies and “Mustard” is a pseudonym.

                  Alleging that the English are an “inbred” mongrel race is a tedious distortion and a weak excuse for trying to ethnically cleanse them (you people call it “re-constructing”). You attempting to cast the usual slur of racist bigot is a tedious expectation. It has however confirmed exactly the point I was making in my fourth sentence. You could have shortened your reply to the sanctimonious “I am morally good and therefore anyone who disagrees with me is morally bad”.

                  Oh, how I do sleep at night being so evil? Bleat, bleat. God, what a tedious buffoon you are.

                • dalai guevara

                  I have never claimed I was better than others. I have never claimed that my culture is superior to yours. I have never claimed the English race (?) was inbred, that would be nonsense.

                  The weakness of the anti we are all in this together crowd is that at the end of the day, we are actually all in this together.

          • 405lines

            3d tv?


        • Ordinary voter

          I think you miss my point entirely. Civilisation alone, we should read and listen to other views, it’s called freedom of speech. We have the right to agree or disagree. However, to dismiss someone’s argument before you even read it is akin to intolerance and a form of fascism. My opinion entirely. I may not agree with what many people say but I will always defend their right to say it. Whether they are the enemy r not. If you do not tolerate free speech then may be you are the enemy we should fear the most.

          • Fergus Pickering

            They have every right to say it. And I have every right to ignore it.

            • Ordinary voter

              How does mankind progress without new ideas and thinking. If you aren’t prepared to read them then how do you progress your mind. Opinions need to be constantly challenged otherwise society will be come stale. Fergus, on this site I am your friend not your enemy.

              • Colonel Mustard

                New ideas and thinking are fine. Party political dogma and the same old Labour script from a dynastic Labour propaganda peddler are something else entirely.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Absolute rubbish. And you have missed my point entirely. No wonder the Tories are doing so badly with people like you supporting them. Will Straw doesn’t need the oxygen of the Spectator – a supposedly conservative magazine – in order to exercise his freedom of speech but there is supreme irony in your passionate defence of a leftist whose party has done more than any other to destroy freedom of speech in Britain.

            • Ordinary voter

              The reason the Tories are doing badly is nothing to do with me thank you very much. Again, I will defend the right to free speech, however much I disagree. You win arguments by debate, not by whistling in the wind. How do you change opinion? By engaging in debate. During the eighties and nineties, the Tories had won the argument and new labour was the answer for labour. Yes, you may not agree with new labour and what they stood for, but they won the argument of the day. The Tories risk losing the GE because they are not engaging in a debate with the country. i don’t want that. Anyway, that is my view.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But fella, this is Will Straw. This is not just any old opinion. This is Will Straw’s opinion. Everything else he says is bollocks so why should this be any different? If your wine bottle says It’s Mateus Rose, no need to actually take a mouthful of the stuff. You KNOW it’s piss.

        • Ordinary voter

          Lol, I do understand your point, but I will defend any bodies right to say it, whether its piss or cheateuneuf da pape.

      • ToryOAP

        I don’t watch kiddy porn either.

  • kyalami

    I expect that Will Straw is not too concerned with facts. While he claims that the economy contracted in each of the last three quarters, the big news this week was that the economy grew by 1% last quarter.

    I wish these left wing writers would give us something to debate about. When they are this fundamentally stupid, it feels cruel to point out their glaring incompetence.

    • perdix

      This kind of article reinforces my view that I will never again subscribe to The Spectator. It’s really gone downhill over the years.

  • alexsandr

    this idiot doesnt understand that more government borrowing will suck money out of the economy thus making borrowing harder thus snuffing out any recovery.

    • telemachus

      Are you another of Osborne’s lackeys.
      Osborne choked off the growth stoked by Darling and as a consequence he aggravated rather than bettered the deficit.
      Short term borrowing is now regarded by every international expert that matters as the means to stoke growth and with the rolling escalating tax receipts bring the deficit tumbling down
      Yall owe it to your children and grandchildren to listen and learn

      • David B

        No we owe it to our children to start not just eliminating the deficit but paying of the national debt because we are mortgaging their future.

        The Brown/Balls/MillE borrowing splurge of 2008 to 2010 did not creat enough growth to pay what it cost. The IMF reported that just about the same time they destroyed what was left of the Balls argument that there was no structural deficit before the end of the boom.

      • telekuka

        my eye is on you!

      • telekuka

        Oh Lord, are there more of your ilk?

  • Torontory

    I really don’t know where to start with the intellectual inadequacy of the Straw argument – not least ‘The economy was growing at 0.7%’ with the implication this was sustainable. Does he really believe this was possible with a structural deficit of >70bn; the subsequent colapse in many of the eurozone economies – not forseen by any Labour politician as far as I am aware; the requirement for the banks to strengthen their balance sheets; overblown personal debt encouraged by the then govt ‘having brought an end to boom and bust’.
    The dishonesty was to suggest that 0.7% growth was ever achievable in these economic conditions – and could ever have been with increased spending, higher deficits and debt and almost certainly higher sovereign interest rates – is living in a fantasy world
    The only consolation is that sustained thinking like Straw’s will, hopefully. make Labour wholly unelectable in 2015.

    • telemachus

      Fortunately you are wrong.
      Straw like Balls has the correct analysis and as Osborne is devalued further it is he that will be ditched in 2015

      • telekuka

        is it nice being a plonker?

  • Archimedes

    By the way, now that you’ve put your left foot forward, you’ll find that you’ve got nowhere to go but backwards, unless you take the mental decision to put your right foot forward.

    • dalai guevara

      yes, but there is also the danger of ‘torsion’ when moving – i.e. saying one thing and doing another.

  • Archimedes

    “Last week, in a ground-breaking new study, the IMF admitted that they had underestimated the impact that cuts have on growth during periods when the economy is under siege by a factor of two or three.”

    It’s important to understand what the IMF actually said. They said that when interest rates are at the zero lower bound, the fiscal multiplier is higher.

    So, let’s unwrap that. We’re in a liquidity trap, where safe assets, such as government bonds, have high demand. Your suggestion is to increase the supply of safe assets, using expansionary fiscal policies? So yields will increase, and consequently the attractiveness of safe assets will increase? Thereby compounding the effects of a liquidity trap, and prolonging the absence of investment in the real economy, while some twit in Whitehall involuntarily ejaculates cash?

    There have been hardly any spending cuts – it has mostly been spending restraint.

  • David B

    Will you seem to think a bit more government spending and everything will be fine, the Ed Balls plan B. The problem was this is based on the “no structural deficit” senior that now even he has to admit is wrong after the IMF distorted his credibility on the issue.

    We need a plan that looks at the long term, accepts we over indulged between 1997 and 2010 and that we now have to sort the mess out, otherwise our children will have an even higher price to pay.

    • dalai guevara

      For the reasons you quote, Ed Balls is NOT the Plan B we are all looking for.

      • David B

        But what is your plan B then. saying you want a plan B then not setting out anything except critism of plan A is not an economic policy it is political opportunism. It’s vote for us because we are not the other lot. Blair used that in the 90’s and that was wonderful for the country

        • dalai guevara

          Erhm – today’s top scorer Chris has outlined the situation quite nicely, has he not?

          Again, the world is led to believe that there are only two answers to a problem. Of course you and I know this is obviously nonsense – there are always at least three.

          • David B

            Yes but Will Straw has not articulated an answer only a view that something else should be done. This is just politics. There is no economic argument to be evaluated and therefore no merit to his conclusion

            • dalai guevara

              I frankly am not that bothered what Straw has to say. Many are right on here to say this is just party politics. I agree. As expressed earlier in another place, there are at least three solutions to a problem.

              In socio-economic Britain today, we face the two threats to social stability:

              1- apparatchik politicians
              2- corporate rule

              It is clear to me that if we wish to get the balance right, we first and foremost need to get the balance right. When apparatchiks begin working for corporations, all is lost.

  • Chris Morriss

    He is trying to cut the deficit to zero in four years, and hasn’t even started yet! Read my words: spending has been increased this year and looks likely to increase next year. Where is the austerity?

    And this is only the deficit! There is still the vast debt mountain to make the attempt on, which will require the defecit to be significantly negative, never mind cutting it to zero.

    ‘Growth’ is not a magic wand. I fear that what all of our political parties will attempt to give us is inflation, dressed up to look like real growth. This is incompetence on a cosmic scale.

    A plan ‘B’ is not needed. Just start on plan ‘A’ now please. (And the suggested cut in child benefits for those who are selfish enough to have more than two children should have been brought in decades ago).

    • Roger

      Spot on

      • telemachus

        As you say Osborne is not only wrong but incompetent
        Call for Balls
        We are all fed up of that miserable sob in No 11

        • Colonel Mustard

          No “we” are not. Stop presuming to speak for everyone you arrogant little turd.

        • telekuka

          Yes, comrade, time for a final solution.

        • telekuka

          oooooh! You are getting too excited again.

    • HooksLaw

      He is ‘trying to cut’ the structural deficit to zero in 4 years. In fact the timescale has been extended by (I think) a year because of the slower growth not just here but world wide.
      Because of the recession of 2008 there in still the cyclical deficit.


      The spending tap cannot be turned off once opened. This is the greatest disservice amongst many that Brown has inflicted upon us. He has stuffed us for a generation and quite frankly we will never be ‘unstuffed’ if labour ever return to power.

      • dalai guevara

        There is no growth problem that is ‘world wide’. What papers do you read that make you think that?

        • David B

          Clearly you don’t get out at all. China’s growth is slowing, Induan growth slowing and Japan back in recession. As you will not believe me have a look at this

          • dalai guevara

            zzz…of course we know that there is contraction, but that does not mean the entire world is slowing: it’s like getting debt and deficit mixed up.

            ‘China’s growth is slowing’. So what, they are still expanding at over 7%+. India, ditto. These are absolutely h u g e markets.

            I have just been to Germany to note on-the-ground construction figures. Their SME books are full to the hilt.


            • Colonel Mustard

              Oh God, another globe-trotting troll waxing lyrical about German growth. Telemachus does that regularly. You must be in the same taxpayer funded parasitical quango or online rebuttal unit.

              You are all over this site like a nasty rash so maybe it is

              • dalai guevara

                When you start communicating fact based content rather than repeatedly endulging in assumptions about my background and the ways I stuff my belly, then you might stand a chance of me taking you seriously.

            • Daniel Maris

              Asbolutely agree Dalai. If those big economies are still growing at such rates, then in theory the opportunities in this globalised economy should be there for us. But of course this is to misunderstand what is going on with globalisation.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Does Straw think the UK should be run in the interests of Siemens, Mitsubishi, Areva, and Vestas?

    I often campaign here for some right-wing writers. Here is the counter-argument. If we get lefty writers we can all see exactly what they are thinking. Surprise surprise it’s tribalist rubbish. Why is it here again?

    • HooksLaw

      As far as I can see dear Rhoda, he thinks the economy should be run for the benefit of South Korea, Taiwan and China

      • dalai guevara

        There we have it again: apparatchiks vs. corporations – the classic dualism. When will we understnad that it is neither who should have the upper hand?


    Awa’ the Staggers to third generation spawn of Marxism.

  • HooksLaw

    yawn – like we are going to take Will Straw seriously.
    Just what has the vast amount of US govt spending achieved over the last 4 years? Come December, no matter who wins the election, there will have to be by law massive spending cuts.

    in 2010 Osborne inherited a broken economy kept afloat by a pre-election borrowing boom.

  • JohnOfEnfield


  • HFC

    Oh FFS, why is this once respectable journal with a proud history giving space to socialist prats like Straw?

    • Fraser Nelson

      Because a) we like debate and b) Will Straw is a forceful and articulate advocate of a very different point of view.

      • ToryOAP

        So long as it’s not Polly or Owen Jones I agree. I won’t read Straw’s tripe but I do agree..

        • telemachus

          Personally I agree about the detestable Polly but we could learn a lot from Owen.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Like what exactly?

            • telemachus

              compassion for a start

      • HooksLaw

        I agree with the point about debate, but not that Straw is articulate. We get a notion of how hackneyed he is when he says,
        ‘the low carbon targets that energy firms and investors are demanding’

        He of course means ‘the high subsidies that energy firms and investors are demanding’

        The man is an infantile joke – the debate is over.

      • Mirtha Tidville

        Really, have you not noticed that he was caught selling dope to an undercover reporter in the recent past but of course was not prosecuted. Is that the different point of view you want Fraser??…..He is like his father I`m afraid….a total plonker now please get rid of such people

      • 2trueblue

        So that and a packet of crisps will create a debate? Be reasonable, Liebore did not see it coming because they were so busy telling themselves how clever they were. They ramped up the debt , created a client state to keep themselves in power, emptied the coffers, opened the borders to immigration, did nothing to create the infrastructure to cope with the influx, our schools, hospitals, roads, housing were totally inadequate for the size of the influx. We then supplied translators to deal with the language and communications problem,(which eats into budgets in every service), the list is endless. The growth which showed up would reflect the amount of money that was spent by Liebore in their last days in power, but it was not validated by long term gain, and gave no real traction for the economy to grow going forward. That is why it was so short lived.
        At the end of the day, debt has to paid down, even for governments.

      • Procrustes

        So a point of view which ignores at least half the facts out is now ‘articulate’ and ‘forceful’ is it? Let us examine the green economy and its contribution to growth.

        1. Elements of it require subsidies to make it profitable. e.g wind farms. Subsidies paid for by business,individuals and probably government debt. So what’s the negative impact of higher energy costs on growth? or higher borrowing? NIL? Insignificant?

        2. I am sure the CBI will spin for anything where their members’ profits stand to be subsidised -they are simply a lobby group and their research should be considered in that light.

        3. Straw quotes a number of large corporations as being ‘concerned’ probably for the same reason as the CBI. Corporatism has always served the nation well…..not

        4.How can he say government is practising slasher nomics but using borrowing increases to illustrate the point? Certainly not articulate.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Odd that your liking for debate and the forceful and articulate advocacy of a very different point of view did not extend to debating Labour’s disastrously malevolent immigration policies and Neathergate. All we’ve ever had on that is one of its architects, another regular guest lefty, peddling the propaganda of its supposed benefits and a lot of dodgy statistics.

        How much did you have to pay Straw for this garbage? Or was it an old boys friendly arrangement?

      • HJ777

        The problem, Fraser, is that Will Straw wilfully presents falsehoods as facts and resorts to throwing abuse based on these falsehoods.

        If he’s going to refer to Osborne’s policies as “slasher-nomics” – and claim that such policies have failed – then he should present his figures about what Osborne has supposedly “slashed”. Those of us who have bothered to look at the figures can clearly see that spending has gone up under Osborne and that any recent reductions in spending have been very small.

        He may be allowed to get away with such falsehoods in the largely innumerate left wing press, but The Spectator should make him either present his facts or withdraw such claims.

    • telemachus


      The reason a respectable journal publishes Will’s text is plain from reading it.

      Osborne has pig-headedly stuck to an austerity bundle that ignored investment and growth such that all international bodies are now expressing increasing concerns about the damage he is foisting on the nation for, not months, but years to come.

      His blinkers on this are in danger of inducing economic implosion.

      It is not shroud waving to warn that people are going to die.

      Die as a result of the hypothermia caused by fuel poverty.

      Die because of the effects of malnutrition caused by inability to afford food price rises.

      Die because the nation will not be able to afford the comprehensive responsive health service bequeathed by the last government

      As Ed Balls pointed out Thursday

      “A one-off boost from the Olympics is welcome. But it is no substitute for a plan to secure and sustain the strong recovery that Britain desperately needs if we are to create jobs, get the deficit down and make people better off.”

      Were Osborne to have such foresight.

      Good for you Will-yo are very welcome here

      • Sarge

        I see, another ‘forceful’ and ‘articulate’ post……where pray tell,dimwit does Straw say anything about ‘all international bodies’? Their comments read like veiled threats rather than economic forecasts.

        and what pray tell is the contribution of green taxes to energy costs and therefore fuel poverty? Who imposed those taxes?

        PS -minimal research reveals shows a range of 2,600 excess winter deaths over a ten year period up to 26,000 depending on which self-interest group you believe.None explicitly say fuel poverty is the cause. If the stats and your premise are true, the problem happened on Labour’s watch more than the Coalition’s.

        I demand an enquiry into the two Ed’s role in this.

        Still not year zero dummy. Do keep up .

        • Ordinary voter

          I’ve given up on responding to silly old Telemachus, his arguments are full of crap and easily combat able. Actually, he is a bit of a bore!!!

        • telemachus

          Whose watch does not matter
          Prevention of more is key

          • Ordinary voter

            Fool. I’ll still debate with someone else who is worthy of intelligent debate. Go under a rock and stay there you most detestable little man.

      • kyalami

        You, Straw, Balls and Brown are advocating the kind of policies that led Greece to ruin and threaten to do the same to a number of other European countries.

        It’s not just, as Liam Byrne wrote, a case of “There is no money left” but we are in terrifying levels of Labour-produced debt.

        The much-quoted “one-off boost from the Olympics” was responsible for just 1/5th the 3Q growth (although in para 4, Straw seems to think the Olympics caused a dip, economic genius that he is).

      • David B

        Shame less than 1 in 5 of my comments on Labour List are published and most of those are published late