Dead Men Left

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Yellow Tories: it's the economy, stupid

Not content with New Labour having turned over monetary policy to an unelected cabal of "experts", the Lib Dems want something similar for fiscal policy:

The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, said that Mr Brown was "making a mockery" of his own fiscal rules.

"This move shows again the need for independent scrutiny of fiscal policy," he said. "For too long the Chancellor has been setting his own tests and then taking the credit for having passed. He should admit he has made a mistake this time."

The drive, integral to the neoliberal style, to remove any democratic control over economic policy is all too evident here. Sure, Gordon Brown is fiddling his figures to meet his so-called "Golden Rule": attempting to contain increased public expenditure - the product of severe political pressure - within the strictures of neoliberal economics was never going to work. This is the failure of the Third Way for the macroeconomy.

But the Lib Dem response, far from breaking with the orthodoxy, is to call for still greater restraints on elected government. They would rather sacrifice minimal democratic control to "independent" scrutiny than announce they no longer support the neoliberal regime. To demonstrate their loyalty to capital, they're even dropping their one distinctive policy pledge:

Charles Kennedy has suggested that the Liberal Democrats will drop their policy of imposing a 50p top rate of tax on earnings above £100,000 a year...

His Westminster speech, which comes as a Liberal Democrat commission starts to review tax policy, is a signal that he does not want to position his party to the left of Labour and allow its opponents to brand it a "high- tax" party...

Mr Kennedy said: "We were correct to point out at the general election that only 1 per cent of all taxpayers would be affected by our proposals on top-rate taxation. But we must not lose sight of those who aspire to achieve income levels which will bring them into the top-rate taxation band in time to come. So we should not fall into the trap of believing that through taxation and spending we can cure all ills."

"Left-wing"? This shower?