The left's bully tactics and the shifting of goalposts

The Left's tactics over Starbucks and the NHS show that it is not committed to economic recovery - and the right is failing too

Dear Chief Secretary...
On 11 December 2012 10:01

A now commonly told story in Westminster is that of a note left by the former Labour Treasury secretary Liam Byrne MP in which he jokingly informed his successor that there was no more money left.

Hilarious as he may have thought that was, they say every joke has an element of truth to it - this one was no less that 100 percent fact - Britain's cupboards were bare.

And let's not kid ourselves, they still are. Despite public perceptions that the British government is shrinking the national debt, Britain will raise the national debt by £600bn by 2015, and deficit reduction targets were last week shown to be significantly off the mark.

While this national crisis continues to unfold before us, Labour politicians as well as socialist activists are doing their level best to throttle the engines of growth. We saw it in grandiose form last week on two occasions - one with relation to a major coffee chain and it's tax arrangements, the other with partisan posturing over the increasingly embarrassing and outdated National Health Service.

With Starbucks submitting to 'public pressure' (read: a few hard Leftists) and Andrew Dilnot falling for Andy Burnham MP's scare tactics over NHS spending 'reductions', it is easy to see why Britain's debt crisis will continue way beyond the new 2018 deadline that has been vaunted in the media as the 'end of austerity'.

Frequently referred to as a short term measure, rather than a required national financial and psychological adaptation, austerity in 2013 will not be the result of a financial crisis from over half a decade ago. Instead it will be the result of a failure by Her Majesty's Government to assert the fundamental principles of economic growth: cut taxes, cut spending.

The Starbucks row has ignited the economically illiterate Left, with placation arising through short term offers of cheques and vague promises from the multi-national chain. Thinking any further than a few months down the line seems to be anathema to the Left, as Gordon Brown's wayward steering of Britain's economy once showed us. 

Starbucks and other corporates in similar positions will now be wary of their UK businesses, and worse, will likely opt for less investment and employment within Britain. Last week the doors began to creak shut on the government's inward investment strategy, producing globally embarrassing effects that far outweighed the positive message sent by the Chancellor when he dropped corporation tax again in his Autumn Statement.

And the Left continues to move the other goal post, too. While higher tax revenues through higher taxation (a logical fallacy) are demanded in one area, higher public spending and real terms rises are demanded in another. The government's response to both incidents has been weak to say the least.

While Britain's coalition government is indeed increasing investment in the NHS in real terms, this is a trend that is scarcely affordable. Yet for the detoxification of the Conservative Party brand, it has been deemed politically prudent to play politics with the nation's finances.

In Labour's last fiscal year at the wheel of government, NHS spending in real terms fell by almost 1 percent. While this is nowhere near the amount that the monolithic, state-funded healthcare provider should be slashed, it served as an indication that even Labour knew the beast had become too big.

When the Shadow Health Secretary wrote to the Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority to insist the government ceases to refer to NHS spending as increasing on the technicality that the coalition inherited Labour's last financial year, he did so knowing full well the media backlash that would ensue.

Labour indeed now has the government on the economic back foot, but in doing so, it has placed unrealistic and dangerous expectations within the minds of the public. It now has the country on the economic back foot, too.

The Left's insistence on higher taxes and higher spending is remarkably irresponsible, even for these guys, but what's worse is the conservative response - of which came there none.

If conservatives continue in failing to make the case for lower taxes for fiscal, rather than freedom related reasons, and if they continue in pretending that the NHS can continue to grow unchecked, in 2015 and in 2020, we're likely to hear another joke commonly told in Westminster.

It'll be that of the outgoing Treasury Secretaries and the notes they leave for their successors, "There's still no money left."

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator

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