Can you remember the last time a British chancellor sounded so shrill? After 18 years of measured tones from Tory grandees followed by 13 years of Scottish gravitas, we are not used to hearing our chancellor sounding excitable and impulsive. Yet if George Osborne's recent outburst on AV and the Electoral Reform Society has received most attention, it is his rush to give partisan interpretations of events in Europe and the US that has caught my ear.
First he made the extraordinary claim that Britain could have gone the same way as Portugal if it were not for his deficit reduction plan. Leave aside the fact that Portugal is locked into the eurozone – so has no exchange-rate flexibility and the same interest rates as growing countries like Germany – or that Britain's debt is more long term than any advanced economy.
Osborne's logic is that if only Portugal had made cuts and tax rises on the scale and speed of his plan, it would not be facing this crisis. Yet Portugal has had austerity packages including two VAT rises in the last year. But just like Ireland and Greece, it has found that it does not matter how much the government cuts spending or raises taxes – if it cannot create jobs and growth, its deficit problem and the loss of market confidence will get worse, not better.
This scaremongering didn't work, so last weekend we witnessed the rather desperate and unstatesmanlike sight of a British chancellor using an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington to make a partisan attack on the opposition back home.
Osborne claimed President Obama's plan to cut the US deficit went further than his and left Labour isolated in the world. But Labour's plan to halve the deficit over four years is what all the major economies agreed to do at the G20 last year. And while Obama says he wants to eliminate the deficit in 12 years, Osborne wants to do it in four.
The reality is that it is Osborne himself who is isolated. He is going further and faster with deficit reduction than any other major economy in the world, and on a foundation of stalled growth and higher unemployment – the opposite of what we have seen in the US.
But there is a deeper concern about what's happening in America and the events of the last fortnight. A highly partisan Republican Congress is pushing for a deficit reduction plan that includes drastic cuts to education, healthcare and social security while preserving tax breaks for the very richest.
etc more plausible sounding excuses for firing up te printer at the link
Your next chancellor wants printy printy.
Theres a reaonable point in there somewhere about not cutting taxes for the rich while cutting medicine for the poor, probably.