The current government cannot continue to blame poor economic performance on the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
That was the central argument in a great article in today’s Guardian by Larry Elliott. You can read it by following the link here.
There are two things that strike me about the assertion that Britain’s economic fortunes are being so disastrously affected by problems on the continent. Firstly, it is a very convenient excuse. It’s not the first time I’ve said that the Conservative led coalition are leading the charge on these cuts because of their ideology, not through a considered view of what would be best for the British economy. The fact that things are so close to the brink in Europe provides a very convenient distraction from quite how damaging the policies of Osborne and Cameron are.
Secondly, if that is what they genuinely believe, I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to expect them to do something about it. Sadly, they seem rather incapable. It’s very illuminating to see today at the crisis summit, Sarkozy reportedly lambasted Cameron for trying to “tell us what to do”, allegedly saying that he was “sick” of Mr Cameron’s criticism. On a day where Cameron’s own party are forcing a vote in the Commons on whether or not we should have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, he can’t be all that surprised to find himself rebuffed by his fellow European heads of government.
David Cameron is right to say that the Eurozone crisis matters to Britain, as they remain our largest trading partner. But the difficulties in Europe are no excuse for the lacklustre recovery the UK has been experiencing in the last two years.
I also wanted to briefly mention William Hague’s comments on the House of Commons vote today. In a quite extraordinary statement Hague said that the government couldn’t support the motion because ‘it wasn’t in either governing parties’ manifesto’. The bare faced hypocrisy of that statement would be amusing if weren’t so infuriating. I’m glad the Conservatives aren’t supporting the motion, but it would have nice if they could have used that kind of thinking when proposing changes to the NHS or raising top-up fees.
Anyway, the UK economy remains in dire straits and unemployment continues to rise. A major step towards averting an even worse crisis in the Eurozone may or may not be taken this week. What is certain is that the Tory led coalition is either unwilling or unable to do anything about either problem.