Here is the Prime Minister’s conference speech, and here is the Leader of the Opposition‘s. I am taking the by-election soon very seriously, and am nearly despairing about the Crisis and my future, so these are important to me. Urbi et orbi, the Party and the country, what do they want to say?
In Mr Cameron’s speech, I found one direct lie. He said, What are hard-working people who travel long distances to get into work and pay their taxes meant to think when they see families – individual families – getting 40, 50, 60 thousand pounds of housing benefit to live in homes that these hard working people could never afford themselves? A workless couple with six children in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the most expensive boroughs to live in the UK, will get £400 a week, £20,800 a year, in housing benefit.
On economics, the speech was poor. He argues that if the UK borrows more, interest rates will go up, for the Government and for individual borrowers, increasing mortgage payments. True. But if public spending goes up and this produces more growth, the UK will borrow less. He does not address the question of whether greater spending produces growth. With Keynes, we know that it does: though there may be a cut-off point beyond which it ceases to produce a benefit.
He did a bit of feel-good: things to be proud of Britain for. He attacked the Labour party- the “One Notion” party, that was the one joke I noticed in the speech. Labour “Wrecked our economy”, he said. That is disputable: the financial crisis is Global, and it is unclear that a Tory government from 2005 would have done better. Certainly unclear from this speech.
A person of faith, not a religious faith but a faith nonetheless. A faith, I believe, many religious people would recognise. So here is my faith. I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better pl ace than we found it. I believe we cannot shrug our shoulders at injustice, and just say that’s the way the world is. And I believe that we can overcome any odds if we come together as people.
What is the problem? The middle classes see that the system does not work for them but for the cosy cartels and powerful interests that government hasn’t cut down to size. That is a striking claim for the leader of the party in Government from 1997-2010. What would he do that Gordon didn’t?
I wanted to see what he had to say about “Predatory capitalism”: “Pressure for the fast buck means businesses just can’t take the long view”. What would he do? End the rule that companies must publish accounts every three months. Mmmm. Still, it is harsh to judge him on just this speech.
He names a topic close to my heart: Scotland can leave the UK, but the soul of our nation would be worse off as a result. Mr Cameron, too: We’re better together and we will rise together, possibly a reference to Flower of Scotland.
What about that factual disagreement? Mr Miliband says that This year borrowing is rising not falling. Mr Cameron says that We have cut a quarter off the deficit in the past two years. Both might be quoting selectively, both might be fibbing, but it makes it hard to choose between them.
Labour would work for The People. The Conservatives would work for The Go-getters- at the bottom of society as well as at the top.
I still don’t know.