Sunak and Truss: Tory leader battle is a ‘greatest flops’ race between failed policies

Sunak and Truss: they may seem to be arguing but in fact their aim is the same: tax cuts. Their only difference is in strategy.

What new hell is this?

After nearly three weeks working on my libel trial and dealing with the fallout from it, I finally turned back to politics to find that the Conservative leadership election has come down to a race between these two deadbeats: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

Sunak is a busted flush because we know his tax history is dodgy, and his performance as Chancellor even dodgier. While he recognised the need to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, his choices did nothing but make matters worse and he shares the blame with Boris Johnson for the severity of the UK’s death toll and the depth of the recession that followed.

Truss, on the other hand, is simply barking mad. I’m not even referring to her now-infamously crazed comments about cheese; she has surpassed them with her increasingly strenuous attempts to get Vladimir Putin to nuke the UK until the glow can be seen from New York.

Sadly, nobody seems to be taking these piddling details into account. How about their economic policies, then – both of which come across as a recitation of recent Tory leaders’ greatest flops.

From Sunak, we get The Big Lie. I’ve been writing about this since sometime around 2013; it’s the idea that, if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. The Nazis stole it from us in the 1930s and now the Tories have stolen it back.

In this case, the lie is that reducing the UK’s financial deficit is the only goal of government economic policy, rather than improving the well-being of UK citizens.

To achieve this, like George Osborne before him, he would limit public spending – because he does not understand the vital role the public sector plays in producing a healthy and efficient economy. Any good news on the deficit would be translated into tax cuts.

From Truss, we get Starving The Beast – a George W Bush economic policy from the bad old days of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). I’ve been writing about this since the earliest days of Vox Political, back in 2012. It was a stinker then and the smell has become no better over time!

According to Mainly Macro‘s Simon Wren-Lewis,

her policy is to raise borrowing to sufficiently high levels such that at some point a deficit crisis will be declared, the answer to which is of course spending cuts… So while Sunak aims to keep to deficit targets and cut taxes in good times, Truss plans to cut taxes now so spending is cut in a future manufactured deficit crisis.

Starving the beast involves not just one big lie, but a whole series of untruths. Voters are being told that tax cuts will not raise demand and therefore inflationary pressure, and will also pay for themselves. When both fail to happen after the next election voters will be told that the high interest rates that tax cuts have made inevitable and a larger deficit has nothing to do with tax cuts, but is all the fault of a bloated public sector.

So you can see that the choice of replacement for Boris Johnson, the worst liar the UK government has seen in decades, is between two more liars.

And the Tory faithful will lap it up because both candidates are offering what they want: tax cuts and lower public spending.

These are the people who believed every bit of nonsense pushed on them by the Brexit press.

Whichever candidate they support, they will be voting to destroy the quality of the public services on which you rely, and to cause further harm to the national economy, and therefore your quality of life.

Neither Sunak nor Truss can win a general election and I think they both know it.

So I tend to agree with Professor Wren-Lewis’s conclusion, as well:

Expect no progress on reversing the damage the Conservatives have done to the UK economy over the last twelve years whichever of the two candidates becomes Prime Minister. Instead the only relevant question is how much more damage each can do until the next general election.

Source: mainly macro: Sunak vs Truss: a battle between two failed economic policies

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