George Osborne "stands ready" to help Ireland in the midst of economic crisis. It's the least he can do after cheerleading their disastrous economic policies as a "shining example".
Reuters today quotes George Osborne ahead of an EU finance ministers meeting:
“We’re going to do what is in Britain’s national interest. Ireland is our closest neighbour and it’s in Britain’s national interest that the Irish economy is successful and we have a stable banking system…”
“So Britain stands ready to support Ireland in the steps that it needs to take to bring about that stability.”
But in 2006, George Osborne wrote in The Times:
A generation ago, the very idea that a British politician would go to Ireland to see how to run an economy would have been laughable… Today things are different. Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking, and that is why I am in Dublin: to listen and to learn.
The British Chancellor went on to lecture that:
“In Britain, the Left have us stuck debating a false choice. They suggest you have to choose between lower taxes and public services. Yet in Ireland they have doubled spending on public services in the past decade while reducing taxes and shrinking the State’s share of national income. So not only does Ireland now have lower business and income taxes than the UK, there are also twice as many hospital beds per head of population.”
The story now is rather different as Irish unemployment stands at 13.9 per cent while GDP contracted again in the second quarter. Tory cheerleaders including politicians, think tanks, and bloggers praised the Irish decision to reject a stimulus package similar to the policies of Alistair Darling and Barack Obama. They went on to praise Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s austerity budget a year ago. Now they say it would all be fine if it wasn’t for the euro or bank bailout. Yet even before the bank bail out, the cuts weren’t working as growth plummeted and the deficit remained stubbornly in double digits.
George Osborne wants to help Ireland in the “steps that it needs to take to bring about that stability.” But with his track record can we trust him to make the right judgment on what those steps might be?Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.