'To understand Balls, one must understand his self-regard. He’s convinced he is right; this is a huge weakness, given that he has been proven to be 110 per cent wrong. He genuinely can’t see this - and never will.Ed Balls is dangerous for the Country but with a supportive BBC acting as his cheerleader, he is very likely to win the economic argument and those the next general election. If Labour do win the next general election then it really will be time for all wealth-generators to flee.
In opposition, Osborne caved. He signed up to the ruinous Brown/Balls spending plan. At the time, the argument was that one needs ‘permission’ to make an argument: ergo, some causes (like cuts) are simply out of bounds. Successful politics then, means keeping within those boundaries. This suited Balls and Brown fine: they set the rule that state spending would be a one-way process. Over the last decade, British spending - as a share of GDP - rose by more than any other country over any other post-war decade. Again, this is politics rather than economics: the Brownites acted like sheep dogs, herding their Tory flock into accepting a high-spending consensus.
Balls, when he comes back, will want to try this trick again. His main gift is to use fake clarity. He has his tricks, such as saying ‘reducing tax’ when he means ‘increasing tax’ (we caught him out for this on Coffee House). He speaks about ‘supporting the economy’ while ignoring the other side of the debt coin: the effects of debt interest. Osborne can, and should, talk incessantly about the burden of debt we are leaving for other generations. He can humanise it. Because debt is not an abstract concept: it can only be paid by people. You have to put a face on it: the face of a voter’s child, grandchild and great-grandchild. These are the people whose money Balls wishes to spend.
Balls will argue that Osborne’s mild cuts are too harsh by keeping it all verbal. Osborne can quash this by giving a crucial figure: his spending cuts average just over 1 percent a year. Which household, or business, has escaped so lightly? Osborne might also care to publish his cuts in the international context. The only place that either metrics have been published is in The Spectator (all the more reason to subscribe, from just £1 an issue).
He who sets the yardsticks wins the debate. Balls concealed debt with PFI. When the crash came, Brown even produced a fake national debt measurement that excludes the cost of the bailouts - something the Irish didn’t do, in spite of having much greater cause. It worked. Choose the right metrics, and you get away with murder. But by setting the metrics, Osborne can set the terms of debate; and he’d best do so, before Balls does.'
Sunday, 23 January 2011
More Arthur Daley than Arthur Laffer
Fraser Nelson in The Spectator exposes the real Ed Balls and if you want more information than the adoring BBC will give you then I recommend you read the whole piece; here's an extract or more: