The Blame Game goes nuclear…
It definitely seems the Coalition ‘Blame Labour’ meme has run out of steam. We still hear the same old tired refrain trotted-out but there is no real enthusiasm now and with the Conservatives even losing their poll lead on economic competence it has lost its resonance. However, rather than soberly reflect on its own culpability, the government seems to be taking a radical new tack; blame the electorate. First we had William Hague saying the only growth strategy was for businesses to “work harder” and then we had Philip Hammond blaming families who ‘borrowed too much’ for the current crisis. I am sure this is a huge vote losing strategy so I am perfectly happy for them to continue along this road however it raises wider questions.
No doubt exists that current government policy is exacerbating the economic mess we are in, however, equally Labour’s policy in government was not perfect. The political point scoring on both sides is obscuring the real issues, the deeper structural factors that led to the crisis. So, we end up with two sides telling a story so distorted by a political agenda that it is of little use. Let’s look at Hammond’s comments, for example, he makes no mention of the reasons that hard-pressed families were put in a position where borrowing was the only option. It was an option they were actively encouraged to pursue by a variety of factors.
Labour’s meme, that everything would have been basically ok had it continued in power, does not accurately reflect reality; things would have been better for sure but we didn’t have and still largely don’t have proposals to address the radical structural imbalances in the system. The first order of business is to tackle social inequality and help those households struggling with debt. A mandatory living wage, extension of Debt Relief Orders, radically even the annulment of all household debt should all be on the agenda. Obviously, measures to stimulate broader economic growth, housebuilding, investment in public services should also be there, incidentally, these are also measures which get people back into work. Our position in the polls is due to dissatisfaction with the government mainly, however, we are now in the spotlight, what we would do is now becoming an extremely relevant question to the people who are dissatisfied with the current course. It will no longer be enough to just criticise the government, if we are to march back to Number 10 triumphant we will have to move beyond playing the blame game.