Via the delightful Mr E, I see that Ed Balls, Minister for Fucking Up Your Children and Families, has got himself into trouble on multiple counts:
First, he told some great big whoppers on the radio about Labour’s budget bringing the national debt down, when in fact their very own budget shows the national debt rising. Fraser Nelson illustrates with some pretty graphs.
Second, when Balls got wind of Nelson’s article, he demanded it be taken down, practically causing Nelson to bust a kidney from laughter in the process.
Balls was deploying the “false proxy” – one of the tools he and Brown use to mislead the public. The Brown/Balls spin technique is all about the gap between their verbal and financial positions. Debt is a classic case in point. Most people understand “reducing the national debt” to mean, well, reducing the national debt. Brown and Balls would claim to do this, when in fact they were increasing the national debt – but by slightly less than the growth of the economy. Orwell would have great fun with Brown and Balls – they have invented statistical doublethink. A way of describing ‘up’ as ‘down’.
Pretty sneaky, Balls. Pretty sneaky indeed.
Apparently, one of the things Balls said on the radio this morning was the following:
We have acted in the downturn, that will mean that the economy is stronger, we’ll have less unemployment, less debt. Therefore we will be able to spend more on schools and hospitals. The Conservatives have opposed these plans, the national debt will be higher with the Conservatives.
In the mind of the Man Who Would Be Chancellor, spending more = less debt and opposing spending = more debt. Excuse me while I ask, WTF. ‘The national debt will be higher with the Conservatives’? I grant that may well end up being true, but only because Labour have spent the last 9 months spending non-existent money like an overpaid benefits claimant in Asda.
Okay, wait, that was classist, wasn’t it?
Spending non-existent money like a teenaged geek with a stolen credit card in the Apple Store.
Whatever the simile, Balls has just proved that the level of political discourse is no better here than in my native land: ‘We rock, and the other guys are totes poo-heads. Am I right or am I right?’
One thing that is different, however, is the unbelievable fact that people win elections in this country by promising more public spending. Some of the electorate evidently want to wrap themselves in the cotton wool of this promise so badly that they’re happy just to hear it as bullshit, never mind it actually happening:
We don’t care if the commentators or the economists turn against us. This is all about shoring up the base in the northern heartlands, which we lost in the European elections. We don’t want or need them to understand the nuance of the argument. We just want them to hate the Tories again.
The equation being, of course, that the British hate spending cuts, and thus hate the Tories, yea even unto the Day of Judgment, Amen.
Whereas the Americans, as far as I can still tell, adore spending cuts, and have hitherto gigantically mistrusted anybody who doesn’t advocate them. Now, obviously, I’m well aware that Americans are being lied to also – no American government has managed actually to cut spending since, like, EVER – but the difference lies in the lies we wish to be told.
(Did you see what I did there?)
Americans want to pretend the government is spending less of their money than ever on less and less stuff. The British want to pretend the government is spending more of their money than ever on making the current stuff super-awesome.
I wonder what proportion of the US population pays income tax, versus what proportion of the British population pays income tax.
I bet it’s a smaller proportion here in the UK. Anybody have the data? I’m willing to be corrected.