Monday, March 15, 2010

Vince Wants It Both Ways

Yesterday, Vince Cable went up in my estimation. He told 5 Live that it was impossible to predict the level of cuts which will be needed this year until the books have been seen after the election. He said he had no desire to impost big cuts too soon but financial circumstances, and the level of confidence in the money markets in our ability to repay debt may dictate that big cuts will indeed need to be made sooner rather than later. That's sensible. It's responsible.

But then today, he warns against the effect of making big cuts too soon following a disappointing report in the Bank of England's quarterly bulletin about the state of the jobs market. Cable says:

"The clear implication of the Bank’s analysis is that if any Government tries to cut back too soon, it will aggravate unemployment, making the deficit worse and compounding the country’s problems. Each party must set out a clear process of what and how it will cut to tackle the deficit, but when this starts must be guided by economics, not political dogma."

He's right in the last bit, but compared to what he said yesterday, he's trying to have it both ways. Only 5 months ago, Nick Clegg was calling for "savage cuts". LibDems don't like to be reminded of that. Was he being "guided by economics, or political dogma"?

12 comments:

Paul Owen said...

Also: according to economics? Economics is not a science or is one which is in its formative stages. Its practitioners disagree constantly as we have seen. Cuts are necessary all are agreed. Timing is a judgement call.

Colin said...

Nothing new here. Classic Cable weather vane stuff.

With Vince, it's all about which way the wind is blowing, at any given time.

Don't forget, he was the only politician to predict the recession / downturn / depression / house price bubble / unsustainable levels of personal debt...

except he wasn't... he's an old lefty charlatan.

He's up against a good Tory candidate in Twickenham, he may well get a run for his money.

el-sid said...

Isn't there an element here of "When the facts change, I change my mind - what do you do Sir?"

The BoE figures represent a significant additional data point, and it's not unreasonable to use them to become gloomier on the outlook. Doesn't justify a complete U-turn, but I can sympathise to some extent.

Trouble is that whether GDP is -1% or +1%, it shouldn't affect government actions. Either £x can be spent in a way that strengthens the economy or it can't. If it can't strengthen the economy, then you've no business spending it, whether GDP is -5% or +5%. If it the spending will make things better then why not just do it?

Certainly doing things to invest in the long-term future of the economy is a lot better use of China's money than urinating it away on short-term waste for the sake of spending.

el-sid said...

PS Meant to say - since it looks like we're heading for a double dip, wouldn't preventing strikes be a more cost-effective way or helping the economy than spending lots of our children's money?

Just sayin'.

Fausty said...

The banks want to keep loaning money to this profligate government - and the latter doesn't mind a bit.

Not only must they ditch political dogma, all parties should start telling the truth.

We're all getting a little fed up with the corrupt system we have and none of them want to change it.

They just tinker at the edges to appear to be doing something about it.

Can they not see why their poll ratings are so low?

The voters can.

DespairingLiberal said...

He's reacting to the latest B of E unemployment forecasts. What's wrong with that? Surely one of the main points is to remain flexible in the face of day to day news.

All the parties are flip-flopping like mad at the moment on most issues anyway. It's enough to make a voter look to fringe parties!

Antisthenes said...

Another case of perception. He made a few comments on economic matters, that appeared profound but were not, everybody hailed him as the new messiah come to cleanse this land of greedy money lenders and he has been dining on his ill gotten reputation ever since.

You can FOOL most of the people all of the time. (Bully boy is a past master at the game)

Moriarty said...

"It's enough to make a voter look to fringe parties!"

You wish.

nickthornsby said...

I fail to see anything at all that is contradictory in what Vince has said. You valiantly attempt to have a go at Vince every few months in the hope that something might stick, Iain, but I'm afraid you need to be clearer. Exactly what in Vince's comments has been contradictory?

HillBilly said...

Nick Thornsby says:
"Exactly what in Vince's comments has been contradictory"?
Vince's unjustified Guru reputation was forensically dismantled by Andrew Neil a few months ago (Daily Politics?). On every significant economic issue Cable has changed his position. I expect that your more techy followers can find the link that eludes me.

Mulligan said...

Hillbilly

Indeed, as per his "one million, er Nick what was that, I meant two million pound" mansion tax.

Osama the Nazarene said...

SOunds like all teh parties want a blank cheque from the electorate.

We can't be specific for add your excuse here about where the cuts will fall but vote for us.

Come the election they all will have to do better in fleshing out where the cuts will fall. Boy George made a small start and then Cameron wet himself and all reverted to generalities.

Tories claim that cuts will be deep and must start now.

Liebor claim that there will be some cuts, but not yet and we know they are lieing. THe rest will be covered by tax increases on the rich.

Lib Dems veer between the two.