Britain Pays and Pays and Pays Because Nick Clegg Through the Parliament to Osborne-Cameron Rather than Balls-Miliband
The lesson from the US: George Osborne has wasted the last three years: Camper-vanning through New England three years ago, I was struck by the worry and fear gripping America. Business leaders and commentators saw that another "global economic hurricane" was brewing. They called loudly for government action to boost growth. Most striking then was the contrast between US anxieties and the complacency of Britain's Conservative-led government. Events since have proved their hubris was woefully misplaced…. Very different policies have resulted in different outcomes…. In the US, the combination of monetary activism and President Obama's fiscal growth plan has helped ward off global threats, strengthened the recovery, and seen a continued fall in the deficit. In Britain, following George Osborne's accelerated tax rises and spending cuts, the economy has flatlined and deficit reduction has stalled, as I feared. The US has grown more than four times faster than the UK since the autumn of 2010 and more than recovered all the output it lost following the global financial crisis, while three years of stagnation in Britain means our economy remains more than 3% below its pre-crisis peak….
This week we will finally see signs of recovery in the British economy after three wasted years…. Conservative ministers will claim this modest return to growth is proof that Osborne's plan has worked… like Australia's cricket team scraping a draw in the next Test and proclaiming their tour a success. The reality is that, once again, Tory complacency is misplaced…. Britain is still a long way from a strong and sustained recovery…. This nascent recovery is mainly benefiting those at the top. Bank bonuses soared to almost £4bn in April as top earners deferred their payouts to take maximum advantage of Osborne's top-rate tax cut. But most families are not seeing any recovery in their living standards, with average wages after inflation still falling… family incomes are now facing the longest squeeze since the 1870s….
Labour is advocating… bringing forward £10bn of infrastructure investment now… a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed… fairer choices on deficit reduction, like cutting the winter fuel allowance for the richest pensioners, and boosting living standards with a 10p starting rate of tax for middle- and low-income families…. I want us to work with the US now to face the shared challenge of ensuring that economic growth is both strengthened and fairly shared….
Instead of complacent claims that everything is going to plan, Osborne should this week recognise that for ordinary families life is still getting harder. And with risks and uncertainties in the global economy ahead, he should finally act to secure the recovery he squandered three years ago and ensure it benefits the whole country. He cannot simply cross his fingers and hope the good weather will continue; he must act now with a One Nation economic plan.