It seems supporters of austerity, like David Smith in The Times, are trying to pretend that its opponents are wrongly claiming George Osborne abandoned it in 2012. They say it carried on full-throttle – when in fact he slowed its pace.
They’re trying to say that the economy won’t contract as a result of the massive government spending cuts that George Osborne is preparing to make in July. If austerity never stopped in the last Parliament, then the recovery can’t be attributed to its being eased off.
Well, we’ll see what happens in a few months, won’t we? In the meantime, here’s Simon Wren-Lewis:
Of course this could be another example of the straw man trick: to defend position X (plan A continued) against position Y (the pace of austerity slowed), create a third position Z (austerity abandoned) which is a silly exaggeration of Y, and show that Z is false. Ergo X must be true. Remember how critics of austerity had to be wrong because they claimed a recovery would never happen.
It really is very simple. George Osborne campaigned in 2010 that Labour’s plan to cut the deficit by half in five years was much too slow,and so began a much tougher austerity programme. More rapid deficit reduction was at the centre of that plan.
But deficit reduction was allowed to slow from2012. Why did the media not challenge Osborne on why this was happening? Why did it go along with the fiction that the plan was unchanged?
The media has no problem asking Labour politicians to account for why they borrowed too much (allegedly), but when George Osborne borrows much more than he planned, having previously stressed the importance of cutting the deficit quickly, this suddenly becomes unimportant. Strange, that.