Saturday, August 30, 2008

Darling admits economy is tanking

The stock government response to the recession has been to downplay it, and when that didn't work to claim that things were worse under the Conservatives in the early 1990s. Given the daily reality that most people face the first was insulting and the second irrelevant. Now they are trying a new tack, actually admitting it's all rather bad, in fact the worst it has been for 60 years, which means since the great depression. At least Alastair Darling has said this, in an interview with the Guardian. So, this raises a question: is this a change of language from the government? Or is it just a change of language from the Chancellor in contrast to the claims from his boss that things aren't so bad? This story broke this evening in an interview for tomorrow's paper, so I would expect a vigorous journalistic follow-up over the next couple of days that will tell us if this really is a new strategy. My small experience of public policy is that admitting things are bad is quite a good idea when they are actually bad, with the important proviso that you then have to credibly sort them out. Admitting that all is gloom and then failing gets you nowhere. In fact it leaves you with nowhere to hide. In the murky world of Labour's internal politics, Darling might just have deliberately hung his boss out to dry. George Osborne certainly picked up on this when he asked "Who is telling the truth at the top of government?". Who indeed?

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