OECD’s inconvenient truth for right-wing ‘Rally Against Debt’

A new report by the OECD out today contains a key graph that won't please the Rally Against Debt brigade, writes Left Foot Forward's Will Straw.

A new report by the OECD out today contains a key graph that won’t please the Rally Against Debt brigade. The group of right-wing activists supported by Tory donors and the TaxPayers’ Alliance who are due to protest in London on May 14th are rarely prepared to admit that Britain is one of the least indebted rich countries.

Today’s Guardian reports that:

The British political right is preparing to fight back against anti-cuts protests by staging its first pro-cuts demonstration, in central London next month, in a move that has provoked comparisons to the US Tea Party movement.

The Rally Against Debt, on 14 May, is being organised by activists including the Taxpayers’ Alliance group, which is backed by Tory donors. Hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters of the cuts programme are expected to turn out at Westminster in a rare show of force by what organisers believe is “a quiet majority”.

But the OECD’s new report published today shows that, despite larger than average deficits in 2009 and 2010 which helped limit the worst impact of the recession, Britain still has lower debt than all but one member of the G7. Japan, Italy, the US, France and Canada all have higher levels of gross government debt than the UK. Overall the UK is 12th out of the 29 countries covered by the report and suffers from none of the sovereign debt issues that face other countries on the periphery of Europe (see p.19 for more details).

There is a political consensus in the UK that the deficit has to be closed, the question is over what time period it should take place. All the signs are that the Government’s preferred, quicker approach, supported by most of those rallying against debt, is not working. If that proves to be the case, the right-wing ralliers may find that their approach leads to more debt rather than less.

Perhaps that’s why despite news coverage today and yesterday, the Rally has just 857 ‘likes’ on Facebook compared to some 40,000 who supported the TUC’s March for the Alternative on the social network.

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