‘George Osborne is under pressure to tear up his austerity programme after Boris Johnson called on the government to drop its ‘hair-shirt, Stafford Cripps agenda,’ reports the delighted Guardian today. Even Boris is against it! Even he can see that the obvious solution to our debt crisis is even more debt! Except, as you’d expect, it’s all nonsense. Kamal Ahmed at the Telegraph got it right: Boris’s problem is with Osborne’s language: talking about pain, rather than recovery. He quotes Boris:
‘We need to junk the rhetoric of austerity and be confident. I will be unveiling a seven point economic plan to drive jobs and growth in London which drives the whole of the UK economy… [we need to] stop bashing industries in which we are strong like banks… We also need tax competitiveness, we need to move to low and stable tax rates, in London and in the UK and we need to stick to it and stop moving around.’
Very sensible stuff from the Mayor, none of which was reported by the Guardian as it would have demolished its straw man of a splash. ‘Johnson hits out at Osborne’ says the headline. But further into the copy: ‘Johnson did not directly challenge the Chancellor.’ So why the headline? Why tell readers something you know (and later admit) not to be true?
We’re witnessing the difficulty the left has in reconciling its official narrative with what’s actually happening. Yes, George Osborne’s policy is not working – but for reasons that the Guardian can’t quite bring itself to accept. It’s not that his evil cuts are retarding the recovery. It’s that he’s slowly abandoning his deficit plan. The figures show that core government spending is going up, along with the debt and (last month) the deficit.