In the weeks after he took office, George Osborne justified his austerity programme by claiming that Britain was on “the brink of bankruptcy”. He told the Conservative conference in October 2010: “The good news is that we are in government after 13 years of a disastrous Labour administration that brought our country to the brink of bankrutcy.”
The Conservatives have constantly tried to portray the Labour party as less than competent with the economy, and more recently the government made facetious jibes about “magic money trees” being required to fund Labour’s promising anti-austerity manifesto, which backfired. In fact the Conservatives have even claimed, rather ludicrously, that the opposition is “dangerous”.
However, back in 2012, Robert Chote, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) formally rebuked Osborne for his intentionally misleading “misinformation” and dismissed with scorn the “danger of insolvency” myth that has been endlessly perpetuated by the Conservatives.
It’s worth remembering that the Conservatives’ historic record with the economy isn’t a good one. Margaret Thatcher presided over a deep recession because of her authoritarian introduction of neoliberal policies, regardless of the social costs. Her only solution to an increasingly damaged economy was more neoliberalism. John Major also presided over a recession, and who could forget “Black Wednesday“.
The global recession of 2007/8 would have happened regardless of which political party was in office in the UK. Osborne had also committed to matching Labour’s spending plans, but he later criticised them.
The financial crash process was started by the neoliberal Thatcher/Reagan administrations with the deregulation of the finance sector. We were out of recession in the UK by the last quarter of 2009. By 2011, the Conservatives fiscal policy of austerity put us back in recession.
It’s good to see Osborne finally concede that there was no basis for his ridiculous claims in 2010, in a recent interview with Andrew Neil, for The Spectator‘s Coffee House Shots (12 October).
It follows that there was absolutely no justification for the Conservatives’ incredibly harsh and damaging neoliberal austerity programme.
You can listen to the full interview with George Osborne and Andrew Neil by clicking here.
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