Monday, October 04, 2010

Stop the Cuts Coalition?

Tim Gee suggests a few answers to his own question as to what the 'anti-cuts movement' could learn from the anti-war movement over at Liberal Conspiracy.

My own view would be that while there is technically enough space here, a comprehensive response to this would be too demanding of most people's attention. It's a terrible comparison in so many ways but I've been thinking about this quite a lot and since he mentioned it, I've got a couple of suggestions of my own:

1) Cutting spending is not the same as reducing the deficit. It's a fairly obvious point but it isn't being made clearly enough. This government hopes that the former will lead to the latter but neither they nor their supporters should be talking as if they were identical. There is good reason to think that fiscal retrenchment on the scale proposed by the British government will not have the effect they are assuming for reasons that have been well-rehearsed in various places but it is important to be circumspect here, which leads me to another suggestion...

2) No matter how likely a vindication of it might seem at the moment, opposition to the government's economic policy should not be based on a prediction. It's not just a question of allowing for the possibility that it might be wrong; I'm concerned that people aren't thinking about how difficult it will be to show it is right. Consider Ed Balls' 'like a hurricane' analysis, for example. His broad analysis, even if it turns out to be largely correct, won't seen to be so if the failure of this government's policy falls anything short of catastrophe.

It would be sensible to be more measured, which is one of the many reasons why the comparison with the antiwar protest movement is such a bad one. There was - for me, anyway - so much to disagree with the Stop the War Coalition on, but at least their basic position was straightforward: the alternative to war was not to go to war. But can it really be said that the alternative to the coalition's cuts is no cuts at all?

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