Posts Tagged ‘Irish economic crisis’

The Tories can’t have the Irish crisis both ways

23/11/2010, 03:00:55 PM

by Pat McFadden

The UK government has been determined to paint our economic situation as a domestic one, blaming the Labour government for the deficit and thus for their response to it in terms of the spending cuts set out in the CSR. This politically-led approach to the crisis also requires them to play down or ignore the international nature of it. After all, the more they talk about common problems being faced by countries across the world, the more threadbare their case against the previous government becomes. It can’t all be Labour’s fault if a number of countries are going through the same difficulties.

You could see this approach reflected at the recent G20 summit. Instead of shaping the agenda as Britain did when Gordon Brown chaired the G20 summit in London last year, we appeared to play a marginal role, with little to say about how countries should work together, or what the response should be to the exchange rate tensions and the discussion of trade imbalances that dominated the summit. When the prime minister was asked what he had been doing at the summit, he said that he had been lobbying for England to host the 2018 world cup – a good goal to aim for but not the reason he was there.

Enter Ireland, with a flight of deposits causing a crisis of confidence in the country’s economy – and this after the country has implemented the kind of austerity programme the UK government is setting out on. Yet when government ministers talk of the Irish economy’s problems, they don’t want to talk about the Irish government’s fiscal policies. No. They insist that In Ireland the issue is all about banks, not the actions of the government.

This contradictory stance exposes their political strategy in the UK. How can it be all about banks in Ireland but all about Labour government profligacy in the UK? The truth is that the last few years has seen the unfolding of a banking crisis across the world to which governments of all stripes have had to respond. In the UK, the Labour government responded in a way that was determined not to let recession turn into depression. That’s the reason for the deficit, not government profligacy. And in the same way, it is a banking crisis that lies at the core of Ireland’s economic problems.

I hope the Irish economy recovers. It is true that as neighbours and trading partners, it is in the UK’s interests to have a healthy and stable Irish economy. But it does no one any good for our government to offer one version of events when it comes to talking about our own economy and another one entirely when talking about others.

Pat McFadden is Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East and a former BIS minister.

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