No George, business does not support you

George Osborne today claims that British business supports his “age of austerity” including cuts to public spending in 2010-11. Aside from the naked “supply siders” at the Institute of Directors, this is simply not the case.

George Osborne is widely quoted today responding to new reports by the Confederation of British Industry and Institute of Directors. He crows:

“The voices of British business are now saying what we Conservatives have been saying: earlier action on the deficit is a key to securing the recovery. It is a huge vindication of our approach.

“There is an emerging consensus that Gordon Brown’s economic approach is simply not credible.”

But is this the case? The Confederation of British Industry’s letter to Alistair Darling talks only about the time period over which the budget should be returned to balance, not when the cuts should start. Could this be because in September, the CBI’s Director General, Richard Lambert, told the Today programme:

“the economy is too fragile right now for massive cuts in public spending so we think that the government should be giving a credible plan for getting fiscal conditions into shape.”

Meanwhile, as the Independent reports, a key economic adviser to the Tories, Sir Alan Budd, has criticised the Conservative’s approach:

“If you go too quickly then there is a risk that the recovery will be snuffed out and we will go back into a recession. I mean what the Americans say, ‘Remember 1937’.”

And Madeleine Bunting in today’s Guardian writes that:

A group of economic historians argue that the public debt is not historically high, or even particularly high compared with other developed nations. They even got support from a very unlikely quarter when two Goldman Sachs economists argued in a report that the public debt is not as “cataclysmic as some commentators suggest”.

While Ruth Sunderland in yesterday’s Observer devastatingly shows the failings of the private sector:

A paper from the Centre for Research in Socio-Cultural Change (Cresc) at the University of Manchester* has found that despite a decade of apparent economic boom, private-sector jobs were not generated in sufficient numbers to fill the gap left by traditional manufacturing.

This leaves only the Institute of Directors wholeheartedly supporting the Conservative’s desire to start the cuts in 2010-11. The IoD is, of course, an elite organisation for “business leaders” and hardly a voice for all of British business. But their “supply side” agenda could not be clearer. As well as cuts in 2010-11, they also want:

• a new corporation tax rate of 15 per cent

• a new fiscal target to reduce spending to 35 per cent of GDP by 2020-21

• abolishing Sure Start and Education Maintenance Allowances as part of £50bn of savings

These policies would leave Britain with corporate tax rates lower than any country in the OECD aside from Switzerland, and the basket cases of Iceland and Ireland. The fiscal target would see spending fall below the 39 per cent reached by the Thatcher government in the late-1980s. Perhaps the Conservatives should be tell us if this is their true agenda.

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8 Responses to “No George, business does not support you”

  1. teresa pearce

    RT @leftfootfwd: No George, business do not support you

  2. Billy Blofeld


    And the alternative to George Osborne………… wait for it………. drum roll……………. 5 more years of economic “management” from Gordon Brown.

    What is worse – if Brown remains PM, he’ll feel strong enough to ditch Darling and bring in Alastair Darling as Chancellor.

    What a crappy choice the electorate have. No wonder 3 people threw themselves off a building in Glasgow yesterday.

  3. Billy Blofeld

    ……… of course I meant bring in the vile Ed Balls – instead of Darling…..

  4. Alex Ross

    No George, business does not support you

  5. Liz McShane

    Billy – shame on you for suggesting that the suicides yesterday in Glasgow were politically motivated. That is way OTT.

  6. Mr. Sensible

    Agreed Liz; Billy, where’s your evidence for that link?

    On this story, Will, the Tories’ economic policy is all over the place.

    Scrapping EMA and what have you is Tory ideology, isn’t it.

    As I remarked in response to today’s ‘politics summary’, I believe this blog and other sources said that some of those supporting cuts now; Branson, and the so called ‘Taxpayer’s alliance’ do not, in fact, pay UK taxes.

    Now, I’ve nothing to suggest these pressure groups don’t pay UK taxes, but…

    One thing that these groups also forget is that parts of the private sector are dependent particularly on capital spending, such as the Building Schools for the Future Program.

  7. UNISON EMids LocGovt

    No George, business does not support you

  8. Liz McShane

    Billy – when you have a moment or two, I suggest you read David Blanchflower’s piece from The New Statesman’s website:

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