Posts Tagged ‘jonat’

The economics of Tony Blair

20/07/2011, 07:35:43 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Tony Blair, according to his economics advisor as prime minister, isn’t much of an economist. In contrast – the only leader to take Labour to three general election victories – Blair is a politician par excellence. While others are better on economics, what Blair says and doesn’t say on the economy is politically insightful.

Let’s take four points made in his speech and the Q&A at a recent Progress event.

First, Labour should focus more on microeconomic debates and less on the macro-economy.

This seems an oddly technocratic point but reminds me of the view of Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy that “Labour needs a draw on the deficit and a win on growth”. I suspect I took Alexander by surprise when I asked how we achieve this at a CLP dinner earlier this year.

I also suspect that Blair is giving his answer. We get a draw on the deficit by maintaining a strong line that closes it on the trajectory first specified by Alistair Darling. We get a win on growth not by making arguments about the economy as a whole but by crafting a series of bespoke policy offers sector by sector.

The combined impact of these offers would enable a win on growth and creates a series of talking points with business, which, as Blair stressed, matters because we won’t have this win until we have a phalanx of leading business people prepared to back us.

Second, these are distinct questions:

–          How do we make sure the crisis never happens again?

–          How do we get the economy moving again?

Separating these questions misses the golden thread of confidence. The economy won’t be moving again until we have confidence in a brighter future. We won’t have this until steps are seen to have been taken to mitigate the risk of the crisis of recent years repeating. Rock bottom public confidence attests that this isn’t coming from government. (more…)

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