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Time for a different song

October 7, 2021 1:10 PM

kkg3 (Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash)It will come as no surprise to read that we were not impressed by the Prime Ministers speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday

Ed Davey summed it up well

Boris Johnson's speech was the most out of touch display by a Prime Minister in decades, he has created a cost of living crisis which he refuses to fix.

People across the country are working hard and making big sacrifices, yet the Prime Minister refuses to offer any meaningful support. Instead he's hitting millions of working families with an unfair jobs tax and a £1000 Universal Credit cut, and leaving them to fend for themselves as their energy bills explode.

No wonder millions of people across the Blue Wall, sick of being taken for granted by Boris Johnson, are turning to the Liberal Democrats in their droves

The fact that it contained only one "new " policy paying a £3000 premium to teachers willing to work in deprived areas is ironic particularly since his government phased out a payment of £5000 only a year or so ago but was heavy on rhetorical flourish and jokes perhaps sums up the man perfectly.

But we under-estimate him at our peril' His central argument that stopping immigration will cause labour shortages which will push up labour costs and force improvements in productivity is superficially attractive even if the idea seems to have come out of the ether in recent weeks as shortages and cost increases caused by covid and a botched Brexit threatened to overwhelm the government. It plays well to his pro Brexit coalition.

The argument bears little scrutiny. If you look at the G7 countries the one with the lowest rates of immigration ( Japan) has the lowest rates of economic growth whilst those more welcoming of immigration ( US and Germany) have the highest. It is no wonder the address was condemned as "bombastic but vacuous and economically illiterate" by the free market Adam Smith Institute, while the Conservative thinktank Bright Blue commented "The public will soon tire of Boris's banter if the government does not get a grip of mounting crises: price rises, tax rises, fuel shortages, labour shortages. There was nothing new in this speech, no inspiring new vision or policy". And those are supposed to be organisations that support him!!

It certainly takes a lot of chutzpah to stand and condemn a broken economic model which for the majority of the past 40 years has been put in place by his own party who have governed for most of that time. To speak in favour of improved living standards when it was the conservatives who refused to sign up to improved workers rights when we were in the EU is equally cynical

And yet who can argue against the desire for a high wage high growth economy? Who can decry a bounding optimism about our countries future?

It throws down a gauntlet for us as a party. We can wait for the the government to fail which given their incompetence to date there is a fair chance they will. Or we take up the challenge to provide an alternative compelling vision for our country's future. There is nothing wrong with the economic ambition and levelling up as aims. There is a lot wrong with the Tories views on personal freedoms and social policies

As the Tories sound more and more like new Labour economically we have to create a compelling and engaging alternative to deliver a green future with enhanced personal freedoms. Otherwise the snake oil salesman that is our Prime Minister will continue to get away with is lies and disassembling